I could never see very far around the bend ahead, and the story galloped for most of the read. Sarah Waters writes scenes that are richly atmospheric, and Juanita McMahon's voices are magic in themselves, so even when we're in suspense, waiting for what seems inevitable (so you may think), the wait is interesting and I always felt as if I were in the room with these characters.
I love historical English fiction and it's nice to get away from historical figures and into the lives of ordinary people. The comparison to Dickens is inescapable in that these are the struggles of the poor and it's a cruel world out there. It's also sexy and tricky. This is smart and well-crafted and an escapist reader's delight.
I decided to take a step out of my niche, and the description of this novel sounded as though could be something amazing. Instead it felt watered down, and was often an insult to my intelligence. I found myself re-writing passages in my head to make them more believable and vivid and exciting. Details were overlooked altogether, one supposes in order to keep the story moving, but all too quickly and vaguely. People rushed and circumstances unfolded at a pace that stretched credibility, the heroine behaved as though hypnotized in her ability to accept the bizarre and move forward in every situation.
I suppose if light fantasy romance is your genre and one of your favorite authors you'll be fine, but I need something with more depth.
The narrator certainly didn't help, she extended the lackluster performance of the author.
I am not sure how much of the blame to assign to the author, and how much to Scott for this story being so depressing, and at times even infuriating. Long before it ended I wished that Zelda had done as her father bid, and married a nice rich Southern boy, and remained in a town where she was loved and in all her daring and eccentricity still supported and possibly understood.
Although I am familiar with Scott's works, this was my introduction to the Fitzgeralds, and I would not wish to meet them again. I am strongly considering returning the book. I doubt I will read anything written by the author again. It was too fluffy at times, skimming what might be considered common knowledge, and focusing on the gaps as she fills them in with her own imagination, like a lumpy cake with too much icing. It was uneven in my perception due to this, I felt as though I had to Google my way through the book, filling in details.
Ultimately the book was Scott's story, you might hate him after this. What a despicable person in Fowler's hands, and I don't want to waste more time investigating, seeking any clues to the contrary. He and Hemingway made me sick, the doctors made me angry, and Z just made me sad, both the woman and the novel. I regret the purchase.
* * *
Jenna Lamia's narration was fine, although a bit uneven. She starts strong, her pacing and voice thoughtful and evocative, but later on she loses her focus and speeds up, seeming to forget that she's portraying a first person who is Southern and genteel and from an earlier time. It pulled me out of the story a few times. Still, she's one of the best Southern voices I've ever heard in narration, it never felt forced or fake, and this from a Southerner who takes that upper case "S" seriously.
I was so surprised to find that I was more interested in Cora's story as the book opened and was delighted to find my wish granted. It took skill to take the spotlight away from someone so famously beautiful and interesting as Louise Brooks (although we still get plenty of her, as well).
The relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Carlisle was done so well. I love their pragmatism.
I have never listened to her read, but was enchanted. I can't imagine the book without her, and would be pleased to find her reading something I chose again.
Louise herself, as the reason for my initial interest in the book, because she remains so interesting.
I demand a great deal of escapist fiction and this was perfectly satisfying. Unusual story, intelligent, over too soon.
Craig's voice and friendly, chatty manner invite a re-listen, yes, definitely.
Hearing Craig read it himself. Only he didn't read it so much as just tell his story, as if he had never rehearsed a word, it was fresh and funny.
The accent (obviously!), a deeper connection between the man and his beautifully honest, humble rise to fame. There is more to him than the guy at the desk on the Late Late Show, for sure, here he goes into personal territory and it's not always for laughs. It gives such deep meaning to his "It's a great day for America" slogan. He means it with all his heart and now you know why.
I laughed constantly, and sympathized quite often.
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