This is an outstanding title in the "Opera Explained" series, one free from a lot of extraneous detail and unneccessary introduction. We get right into the opera almost at once. And what an opera it is, containing as it does a political message, a paean to the joys of married love, and a score so demanding one wonders at the endurance of its performers. While the plot appears at first glance to be somewhat commonplace, it nonetheless shows the triumph of good over evil, justice over tyrrany, and hope over despair.
Furtwängler praised the opera, saying its political message and music "will always represent an appeal to conscience." But perhaps just as much, it is a monument to its composer's own statement: "Strength is the morality of the man who stands out from the rest, and it is mine."
Even if you're not a great fan of opera, if you love Beethoven, you're likely to enjoy this brief look at the incredible work he swore would win him "a martyr's crown" for his trouble. It is nothing less than a wonder to behold.
I got the whole season. In a state of overwork and fraught nerves, I wanted nothing more than to escape into some light hilarity. This series, for the most part, provided that admirably, although it gets a bit stale as it moves toward Season 7.
The British take the mickey out of the usual suspects. Satan says, "Screaming always sounds better in German, don't you think?" (Something to do with waiting for the verb). The French, oh, the French! And of course, the Americans don't escape unscathed. Then it's time to turn on one's own with lots of topical UK snark on pop culture, politics, and sport.
You'll meet the all-too-good professor. And Thomas, the most evil thing ever to emerge from Godalming. (Well, as yet). But the devil is the star-turn, of course, and he is quite a bit more lovable that you might have imagined.
I feel better now. Maybe you will too after you spend a season in hell with the deranged Andy Hamilton and his impish minions.
This was my first Michael Innes book and I enjoyed it. I was hoping there would be more about painting in it, as Honeybath is a Royal Academician and portrait painter. (I am a figure painter myself). However, he never did get around to beginning his portrait, which is ostensibly why he finds himself in the setting which contains this clever mystery.
Actor-musician Jeremy Clyde provides his usual good timing and beautiful tone for the narration. (He comes by that posh voice honestly, you know). The only thing I'd change would be just a touch more differentiation between the characters.
Order a Bucks Fizz and listen for yourself. It's worth a credit, and I for one will be back for more.
Robert Harris is a wonderful writer, but this book is not his best by any means. Unfortunately I was stuck in airplane mode with this the last book in my downloads. Otherwise, I don't think I would have finished it. It felt like being stuck at a very long cocktail party with a quant. I kept looking at my watch wondering when it would be over, which is not something that happens to me when I listen to a Harris book! I was really surprised at how little I cared about the characters and how unbelievable the plot became. This is really a sci-fi book.
Rodska's narration was uneven. He's great at portraying a pompous corporate character, but falls short with the foreign accents. He seems to believe a Dutchman sounds like either a concussed Swede or someone who has a broken jaw. Very annoying.
So if you want my opinion, give this a miss unless you're obsessed with numbers, trading, and computers. Choose another of Harris' excellent books.
I've been disappointed with so many new, highly acclaimed books lately that I find myself turning back to the classics once again. (As usual, curmudgeon that I am). Now I'm working my way back through the Simenon canon and enjoying every minute. I'd almost forgotten how much I loved Maigret! A big, strong, man of few words who can take a bullet and keep on working, never complaining or blaming. For me, that's old school sexy and I'd like to see it come back into style!
The stories are edgy, sometimes raw, and always realistic. Paris is not idealised as it is so often, but shown with all its flaws and very much anchored in that particular postwar time. Simenon knows how to choose just the right detail in his description, saying volumes in a simple but compelling observation. Such simplicity is a great gift, and much appreciated.
In short, you can't go far wrong. The translation is good, the story fast-paced and interesting, and Gareth Armstrong has fantastic pacing, a beautiful voice, and gives us an excellent narration. May you enjoy taking a trip into the old days with the unforgettable, highly original character that is Maigret.
I loved listening to Anthony Heald reading these wonderful old tales from Bierce. He was just perfect here! If you've read Bierce, you'll love the collection. If not, you'll love it all the more. He's the kind of author you wish you could read again for the first time because there's no one quite like him. As with Poe, many have attempted to imitate him, but all fail in the attempt. He remains his own twisted, unique self and I love him for it. May you enjoy this collection as much as I did.
If you've never met the Cazalets, let this be your introduction. And if you have, you'll love returning to Home Place to see them all again. The casting is perfect: every performance was distinctive, powerful, and absolutely top class. It was enjoyable to hear the ever-ladylike Penelope Wilton's narration throughout. It is a bit of a soap opera, of course, and rather melodramatic in parts. (I would have liked deeper characterization in several places). But what a story! It has everything: war, peace, love, desire, denial, regret...all of human life. You won't forget these characters, nor "Home Place" the estate that is, if you will, a character in itself. Highly recommended to those who love a sweeping family saga, and to all who enjoy hearing BBC Radio at its very best.
There are many issues detractors have cited about this book, and many of them are valid. It depends upon what the reader is expecting. For me, I found much to admire in this book. I admire Fox's determination to find out as much as she could about Jane. Sadly, "bit players," especially when they are women, are often rather elusive, if not obscure. Even when they witness and participate in great events, they may be eclipsed. (Anyone who has researched a particular female relative in a family history may realize what I mean on a smaller scale).
I've read about the Tudors for many years, and I found several things that were new to me in this book. I also enjoyed the writer's style, erudition, and her honesty in attempting to find the real Jane. She does not make promises she cannot keep: she is forthright about possible "things one may never know." Jane emerges as a tantalizing, elusive figure, and in Fox's eyes at least, she is redeemed to some degree from calumny and derision. I also enjoyed the small details and the elegant, lively descriptions of Tudor life.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves reading about the Tudors. I enjoyed Fox's writing so much that I plan to read her work about Catherine of Aragon and her sister, too.
I will listen to Rosalyn Landor read anything. Her narration here was as beautiful as ever.
Pile into the Citroen with the Holzers and Sybil Leek and join them on a wild California road trip to investigate hauntings and sightings of the early-to-mid sixties. There's a ghost-inhabited closet, a spectral Carole Lombard, the discarnate monks of Etna Springs, and of course, the recurring Holzer theme of psychic topless dancers!
The most interesting story was that of Count Degenhard von Wurmbrand. A tall, elegant Austrian officer who relocated to America in 1927, Wurmbrand had a stunning tale to tell that gives new meaning to "rara avis." The ominous ravens, a castle south of Vienna, and unusual characters could well serve as the foundation of a compelling horror novel or screenplay. (For all I know, they have done).
Tom Pile's narration is excellent. He never sounded campy or silly portraying the female characters. His voice is just right for this kind of story: sort of "Robert Englund meets Jeffrey Combs" in the best way.
When you grow up in a haunted house, as I did, it leaves an impression. Especially on house guests. I started reading Holzer when I was a small child to help me make sense of what we lived with in that house. Whether it was a ghost, "leave-behind," energy imprint, or a grand mass delusion, he helped me come to terms with the fact that not everything can be explained, nor does the unexplained need to be feared.
Holzer had an usual gift for combining the "unheimlich" with the "gemütlich." Perhaps only a Viennese gentleman could pull that off! He always gave the impression that he was sincere and honest. He was not a trickster but a seeker. With a gift for friendship and writing, he told it as he saw it. Even though I don't agree with everything he believed or did, I respect him for his spirit and courage.
This little collection is filled with stories ranging from a bayberry-scented apparition in the home of a conservative banker in Philadelphia to a premonition of death given to a striptease artist on the night train to Zurich and so much else. Whether you believe the stories or not, they'll give you something to think about.
In 2004, I took "The Ghost Writer" on a long, dreaded flight. By the time the plane landed, I knew I would be reading everything Harwood published for the rest of my life.
Listening to Simon Vance's performance was such a treat. It's like when you listen to a piece of music and love it on an emotional level, then listen again to find the deeper structure and beauty. "The Ghost Writer" is all the more impressive ten years after.
Harwood plays fair and respects his reader. All the clues are there but he expects you to pay attention and think things through. His foreshadowing is subtle and well-timed. There is no dumping of information or meaningless backstory, and every scene contributes to the advancement of the plot. His writing is masterful, and as a poet, some of his imagery is arresting, but his prose never calls attention to itself. Add to that compelling characters and layers of intriguing mysteries waiting to be solved, and you've got a writer worth reading every time.
In a world of overwritten, self-conscious twaddle we are told is "literature," modern masters like Harwood shine all the more brightly. He provides everything I read fiction for and I hope he will continue to write novels for many years to come.
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