Marietta, GA, United States | Member Since 2010
Knew nothing about this book when I picked it - just sounded interesting. I"ve always thought I'd like to read something about Ancient Rome (or Tudor England or Egypt under the Pharoahs} that dealt with everyday life and relatively ordinary people. To be sure, this is a murder- mystery, but it's full of everyday occurrences - meals and broken feet and shopping and petty grievances. The characters come across after about 2000 years as fellow human beings. Ruso is likeable even though he's irascible and Tilla is an incredibly strong and down-to earth woman. There's much humor woven into the fabric of this story which really enlivens it. The only difficulty that I had in reading this was keeping the characters straight - maybe because of the unfamiliar names, but it was hard for me to remember the connections between the characters, All in all, a very enjoyable read. I plan to get the other 2 in the series.
This book was way too long. The whole middle part could be cut out and it would make a good story. The premise is interesting and well presented, (I won't spoil), but I found the
"story within the story" to be distracting, time-consuming and boring. High school stories never interested me very much even when I was in high school. I don't think King's forte is writing romance stories and a lot of that part didn't ring true for me. The performance was OK in general, but Sadie's voice sounds too masculine and not really very believable for a woman.
Murakami's prose can be absolutely beautiful, even in translation. In the End of the World portion, his description of the golden-fleeced unicorns is amazing, very realistic and un-Disneyesque. In the Hard-boiled portion, the story takes on a "noir-ish" quality and his protagonist is a down-to-earth everyman. The story is confounding, like a puzzle with many pieces that don't quite fit, but nevertheless very compelling. I read this about a year ago, so I've lost a lot of the small bits, but the feeling of the book has stayed with me. That's my definition of a good book - unforgettable.
While reading this, it occurred to me that, "oh, this is like Alice in Wonderland" in which Alice goes to a dreamlike place where things don't quite make sense in the "real" world. Then I remembered the title, so I guess that isn't amazing insight on my part.
I've read 2 other Murakami books, Kafka on the Shore and The Windup Bird Chronicle, both of which kept me reading Murakami, but neither as unforgettable as HBW&EOW. I like breaks between reading his books, but I think I'm ready for another now.
I loved this book. Everything in it seemed honest and true. Supposedly fiction, but when you read the author's biography, it's very similar to that of the protagonist. I learned after reading it that it's considered "young adult" fiction. Glad I didn't know that because I probably wouldn't have read it if I had known. Great insights into living on "the res," and the tenacity and commitment of a teen who knew that to succeed, he had to get away and pursue a not ever easy education.
I go for the post-apocalyptic stuff - favorites - Earth Abides and On the Beach. This one didn't do so much for me because it spanned too much time and was disjointed. I found it difficult to follow the story and lost interest.
A murder-mystery in ancient Rome, or at least an outpost of it. Love the characters, the story, and the attention to detail of life 2000 years ago in the Roman army and its interactions with the "natives." Great read. Re the performance, the accents of the Romans are more proper and erudite vs the accents of the natives of Britannia (Northern Britain, Scotland,) which are reminiscent of today's accents from those places, even though it's all in current-day English.
Wish I'd noticed how long this tome was when I selected it. I loved the title and topic and I wanted to know more....but not that much more. I didn't get very far, so my review doesn't apply to content and presentation - just seemed daunting to me.
I liked this book but didn't think that everything was neatly tied up in the end. To me, there were many unexplained phenomena that just hung there unresolved. I'd like to see what Murakami could have done with this story. It held my interest but aside from the lack of resolution, the writing was a bit flat - the characters "nodded" and "shook their heads" way too much; surely there's a better way to convey assent or dissent than to use these terms ad nauseam.
This book called to mind another popular romantic novel - The Bridges of Madison County. Both of them are over the top as far as unbelievable romanticism is concerned, with the main characters in both taking no responsibility for the betrayal of commitments in their lives. This book never explores why in the world Tin Win - committed as he was to MiMi - married an American woman and fathered 2 children, then abandoned them all. I was not at all moved by Tin Win and MiMi's love story - a lot of teen angst and incredibly repetitive. How many times was it necessary to narrate Tin Win's touching MiMi's body and the ecstasy that engendered in both of them. We know, we know...they're in love. A lot of this book strains belief - is hearing heartbeats (without a stethoscope) really possible??? And in the end, the fact that they, primarily MiMi, were so loved by the locals that on the 15th of EVERY month the townspeople form a procession to their home, bearing offerings, flowers, candles, etc. Oh, and what about the blatant plagiarism of John Denver's song, Shanghai Breezes (The moon and the stars are the same ones you see, etc.)
I did find parts of the book compelling - especially Julia's story - I wish that had been a bigger part of the book. I had to listen until the end just to see what happened. Not a boring book for the most part, but overly romantic and melodramatic.
Wish I'd had college professors like this one. Prof. Albala was animated and enthusiastic about his subject and held my attention. I especially enjoyed the portion about food in ancient Rome and the very early recipes that still exist from there and other places a s well. His discourse puts a human face on the people who preceded us and brings them to life through the very human process of nourishment.
I didn't think I would like the book - the title says to me says "Ladies' Book Club Book" and that's exactly why i selected it - we're discussing it tomorrow. I ended up finding it compelling and a really good story. A lot of negative reviewers did not like Victoria, but I really empathized with her - she had a rough upbringing but she knew herself and wanted to be better, for herself and other people in her life. The last book I read prior to this one was The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog - and it tied in beautifully with this book. It's non-fiction about children brought up in difficult circumstances and the resilience they displayed. I see Victoria in the same light. The backbone of this book, the meanings of flowers, provided an interesting base. Not 5 stars because the ending was melodramatic, sickeningly sweet and Hallmark Hall of Fame-ish.
I gave the performance 2 stars because the narrator seemed to be using what I consider to be "teen-speak" - if I had to hear the word GarDEN one more time...... I also felt that she had difficulty with the male voices - they sounded forced.
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