I just finished this book and it is one of the most insightful contemporary novels I've read recently.
That said, I sympathize with the readers who stopped listening after a couple of hours and gave it 1-2 stars as I would have. The beginning does seem like a simple retelling of adolescent banter and escapades that got irritating and old very quickly. I thought I'd misunderstood the description.
But I kept listening and found the book incredible. Murray's story presents the odd and at times unexplainable elements of human nature in a post-modern age. Who "wins" and who "gets ahead." And how many of us never really see what's truly going on -- even though we're 'good' people.
So, if you like cultural insights - and can accept the obnoxious, humorous, and tragic antics of both adolescents -- and adults. Then you may enjoy this book.
I'm going thru the series and kept wondering how much I actually like it. I rated the last book in the series somewhat harshly - but there seemed to be good reason.
This book I enjoyed much more. It returned to providing a very sound historical context, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Mary R. seemed human again (instead of superhuman) and Holmes shows a very sensitive side (which is presumably always there, but always in check).
I've read this book series up to this point and this book really makes me question whether to continue. This story seems really too trite. It also starts to become comical how excellently Mary is at everything she puts her hand to (from languages to magician tricks to pig-sticking). And the story all wraps up too nicely in my opinion. The narrator tends to accentuate the pleasant outcomes, and the tone starts to stray too close to the romance genre.
Also, while this is of course historical fiction, and one must put all kinds of comments and behavior in context, I found hearing the typical Brit's assessments of all things Indian rather painful. Yes, it was typical for the 1920's but it felt a little too raw.
I still am in question whether I like this series or just keep plugging on. Sorry to the extreme fans - simply my opinion.
Never usually buy abridged but as it was the only recording of this title, I took a chance. I found the end greatly lacking. Wait for the unabridged!
-I love historical fiction so any novel based on actual stories attracts me.
-The stories of orphan trains should be told.
-The parallel of orphan and foster care experiences.
Not so much:
-I found the narration highly irritating as it's performed as a young girl's voice. I actually checked back to see if the book was for adolescents. I hold the directors responsible, not the narrators. Narration does not have to match the age of the character -- in my opinion, this often comes out contrived and unpleasant.
-The story does seem somewhat predictable.
Apologies to the narrator, but the director should have asked for voices of people. It sounds like the instruction was for a children's book of forest friends. If you've listened with joy to Wodehouse for years -- do not try this version! Had to stop and get another book of narrated by J. Cecil. I gave the story 4 stars anticipating Wodehouse came through again.
I love this series: the depth of the characters, the word pictures -- all set in a historical period of such import and with such detail.
This book is in the top tier of my library.
I actually think it could be a satire of FB pages although it was written over a century ago! Mr. "Nobody" records his daily life and thoughts, and plans to have them published. He is oblivious to how others view him - somewhat of a sop. And yet, he is a sympathetic character because he always tries to act honorably.
The narrator is perfect for the material - his inflections, etc. sound just like the diary author would speak.
It is so humorous in such as understated way that I found it hilarious.
Humor is very individual but if you like absurd, deadpan satire (some Monty python skits come to mind) than you will probably like this.
I'm not from India so can't comment on the narrator although it does seem odd to not have a native speaker (not sure what audiobook directors/producers are thinking of sometimes)
That said, I found the book captivating. The type of story - the intersection of rich and poor - is not uniquely Indian -- it could be written about any country. But this is the Indian take on it, with comical/pathetic insights and images of the lifestyles of the growing middle/upper-middle class, and their relationships with the service class.
This is a great tale of fortunes one and lost, unchanged love, and personal redemption. Included is the Lorax-like quality of the growth of this midland city, and a glimpse to the building up of America.
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