Every few minutes the oblivious elderly narrator bumps into the microphone or some other object nearby, which is very distracting. If you think of the reading as a favorite uncle or prof telling you his opinion of the history of the known world up to that point, (and who just happens to bump into whatever is near him) that makes it more tolerable. I am surprised anyone thought this narration worth selling as a product or worth paying for; I should have previewed it first, obviously. That said, if you can ignore all that, then the stories are mind-numbing, in a good way. So many civilisations I had never even heard of before! So many tyrants being horrible in ways new to my imagination when I foolishly thought the current evil of humanity was surely the worst. Amazing perspective on human history, in other words, and very worth either reading or listening to. It would be useful to have a map of the ancient world handy, though, as it is hard to envision the rise and fall of all these kingdoms, tribes and empires.
I got this on impulse when the promo suggested it was like Gabaldon. I was seeking something simple, easy and light that would be pleasant to listen to and require little concentration. This fit the bill perfectly. The Scottish settings, accents and characters, the mysterious and tantalizing knowledge of the author's ancestor's life, and the story-line about the Jacobites was very nice, indeed. There was no time-travel, and no iconic male like Jamie, but it was a nice enough listen. I didn't care for the tones of voice the narrator selected for the characters but the overall effect wasn't bad enough to be distracting.
I wanted to like this, and to learn about the South from it. But I guess I have to just finally admit to myself that I am not sophisticated enough to appreciate "great literature". What I love and long for is a good story, well-told. This offering was so full of cruelty, hatefulness, anger, irrationality, and stunted, ugly human characters that I was left reeling, feeling sick at heart. For me there was no redeeming quality, at all, except that I have learned to strictly avoid Faulkner for the rest of my life! I would warn all sensitive souls away from this one.
I have always loved Walt Whitman's poetry but did not have a real sense of him as a man until I listened to these tender, insightful and achingly poignant observations of the field hospitals during and after the Civil War. They are very moving snippets from his journal, very honest and personal. I was surprised that I had not heard of them earlier, as I am a Civil War 'buff'. This is a valuable contribution to knowledge about that time. Whitman's kindness to both 'secess' and Union soldiers made me appreciate him all the more. I did not give this a 5 star rating because it is not 'of a piece', but an odd assortment of topics in a bit of a mish-mash rather than an integrated work; it is from a diary, after all, and not actually ever meant for an audience, perhaps. However, as a deeply caring and wonderful human being Walt Whitman earns 10 stars.
I don't think this would be funny if I was just reading it. And I surely think no other narrator could do it justice. It takes the author's comic delivery, the exact timing of the punchline, the very thick southern drawl - and then it all adds up to being hilariously wonderful. I had not noticed this was published in the mid 1980s and kept being surprised at the names being mentioned: the American politicians and celebrities of that era, which I had not paid much attention to at the time and if I had, had long forgotten. It was interesting and fun, anyway, even if I did not 'get' all of the snide comments about them. Mr. Blount has a genuinely humorous take on life and gave me some deep, delighted laughs, which I much appreciated. In fact, I am still laughing.
I admire Nevada Barr for her courage in writing a novel like this, but do wonder who the intended audience was. I would think that it is not graphic, passionate or erotic enough to appeal to lesbians, and is probably cringe-inducing for many (if not most) straight women. The historical context is very interesting and disturbing: the lack of basic legal rights for women, the medical ignorance, and the sheer prejudice against lone women much less lesbians. I found it harrowing and hard going, and had to space it out over months, as I got too upset. The ending was oddly abrupt but I was still relieved it was finally over! The narration was good. I prefer the author???s usual genre over this work but am glad I listened to it as it has piqued my interest in women???s history in the settling of the American West.
Our faces are pushed mercilessly into the repulsive medical details of several diseased characters. We must endure endless crankiness, selfishness, and self-congratulation by truly unpleasant and stunted personalities who are all unhappy about something. This was almost unendurable except I kept hanging on, thinking the rave reviews could not get it so wrong. Well they did. Ugh. Nasty people, nasty diseases, nasty plot resolution through deception. However the narration was very good; this mess was not Mr Miller's fault.
I admit I had no knowledge of, or particular interest in, the polar expeditions but was interested enough in the travel and adventure to listen to this book. The first half was a bit of a slog, as they hit bad luck pretty quickly and the day in and day out trying to wait out the pack ice holding them captive was slow going.
But the second half, as Shackleton leaves his crew behind to try to make it to any semblance of civilisation and eventual rescue is staggeringly impressive; it is only a series of extraordinary decisions made by Shackleton that allowed them to survive. And perhaps a few miracles, too: e.g. stuck on a razorback mountain with the temperatures dropping below zero, guaranteed to freeze to death if they stayed or tried to turn back, he chose to slide with his two men into the completely unseen, fogged in, precipice below - and against all odds they actually survived this without a scratch, picked themselves up and kept going!
The narration was utterly gripping, well paced with the action and emotion, a fantastic job. I was shaking for some time after finishing this, my heart was still pounding so hard and I could hardly catch my breath; I could only think 'men used to be like this!' Now I want to know everything about all the polar explorers because this is a breed of men I have never encountered. Shackleton is my new hero: he had a genius for survival and leadership, and he returned to rescue all his men without loss of life. Incredible. This is an exceptional story about human nature.
This author/narrator has a manic, relentlessly self-pleased and chirpy little manner and voice; if you can tolerate that you may enjoy the story. I couldn't, and didn't.
This lovingly told memoir is warm-hearted and engaging. The detailed descriptions of the marvellous spicy snacks and elaborate feasts served - whether on impulse from a street vendor or at formal family gatherings - have triggered my own preparing Indian food for weeks now; it is so wonderful! Also very enjoyable is the insight into the extended patriarchal family structure that generations of her family have lived within, as well as learning about the sub-caste they were part of, and the work they performed for the establishments of the era, whether Moghul or British. It is all told simply, as if to a sympathetic friend from whom nothing has to be hidden; sorrows and triumphs alike are shared simply and warmly. I loved listening to this book, and the narrator was excellent. This was a whole side of Indian culture that I had no idea about; very worthwhile!
This is a worthwhile and engaging story from early American days which offers us an insight into the very different lives lived then. Revealed are a touching faith in God, the workings of a strong, close-knit extended family unit, and the harsh reality of the daily killing and skinning of clever fellow creatures, raccoons, who don???t stand a chance against the cunning of humans with dogs. I enjoyed this book but found myself cringing and holding my breath during all the scenes of killing and skinning of raccoons, which upset me deeply, as I find them very appealing creatures. It was clear the skins were sold for furs and coonskin caps. It is a sad thing to kill such beautiful, wily animals at all, but that was just the reality back then. I view it as historical and can only hope it is not still happening. I am shocked that modern people consider this acceptable fare for children but then I am not a parent or teacher. If you can enjoy a story about a boy and his hounds killing all the raccoons they possibly can, then this is for you. The narrator is wonderful. I wept for the raccoons, the dogs, and that long ago time. But I wept for humanity, too, for its joy in killing.
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