Alice in Wonderland but with real people and a "real world". I could have gone on listening to this book - 900 pages was too short .
I don't think I have ever been able to see and feel characters like I did in this book. Unlike ones where the first chapter was used to tell you what a character was like, you felt these characters grow and evolve throughout the book like a faint portrait that gradually sharpens to clarity.
The ONLY issue I had was with the narration. The three narrators didn't always pronounce names the same way which led to some sorting out on my part.
Never heavy handed or obtuse, the story was as straightforward as a child's fairly tale but with the subtlties and nuances that appeal to adults.
The story spanned so many years and there was really no connecting theme until the last few pages. It's shining feature is that it made me want to look up more about the actual Grimke sisters.
I couldn't tell if if it was the narration that sounded like someone reading a picture book to three-year-olds or a story that was rampant with stereotypes of women that irritated me the most. She obviously tried to explain the contribution of women in WWII, but the stereotypes and one dimensional views of women, especially the Southern ones, was a disgrace. There was a real story in a woman trying to survive a narcissistic woman, but there was no real exploration of the damage and recovery and it was treated as humorous, which is disrespectful. I did appreciate the few insights that Sookie had about her mother.
Overall I thought the story was messy.
Without giving away spoiler, which you will discover in the first few pages, I liked the instrument she used to move back and forth between story lines. Yes the story is a little heavy on romance and all too predictable, with the men being something out of a yard sale romance novel. However, the story itself moved along quickly enough that this was not a serious drawback.
The narrator was absolutely a dream to listen to and I wouldn't mind hearing more of her. There were lots of different accents to handle, Scottish, Russian, Irish, British, American- and they may not have all been "strictly authentic, ( I am not an expert) but her ability to move quickly between them was amazing as well as her ability to handle both men's and women's dialog.
Perhaps I just don't like this writing style, but it was so inane I just couldn't go past one hour.
Listening to this was like hearing every frame of a long movie, in excruciating detail described along with totally irrelevant conversations. The conversations of a group of travelers in front of him getting off the plane, the menu in a coffee house, the details of an airline ticket. And on top of it the narratormakes every five words into a melodramatic, mystery thriller cadence for 32 hours. And his voice for every female character made me cringe. The basic story was interesting, but could have been written in two thirds the words.It was as though every scene was described in two or three ways because the writer couldn't choose which one to use.
Aside from that, I found the character unsympathetic, though I really wanted to care for him, given the hard luck he had.
I really struggled to finish this.
One of the funniest books I've ever read! But it has some real lessons as well. One that I'll listen to again and again when I need a lift in spirit!
It was very hard to follow this book because it jumped from one story to another in the space of a sentence. I had to back up and listen again often. I really didn't enjoy the various stories, it was almost like a collection of short stories, sort of like a Cloud Atlas but not as epic.
I usually enjoy accented narration as a way to relate to a different culture but these were two heavy and often hard to comprehend.
The narrator for Vera was good, but the other two were not. The man had no inflection to speak of and ended every sentence in the same tone. The voice for Mary did the same; every sentence ended in a dramatic whisper and did not convey this character and killed the male voices. Otherwise, the book itself was absolutely stunning!!!! The themes were beautifully interwoven - time, history, family, parenting, self awareness. I am listening again despite my disappointment in the narration.
When my book club chose this book, I thought "Oh no, another "issues" book. It was, but not in the way I expected. It brought a whole new understanding for me and I will remember the story for a long time. I recommended it to my husband. There were issues but told through the eyes of WW2 veterans, farm wives who are trapped in toil and the cruelty to a race that lasted well into the 20th century. All a different take on the stories we like to glorify about the rural south. My only complaint is with the recording which on multiple occasions repeated itself for a few lines.
Being from Kentucky, I thoroughly enjoyed the authenticity of the accent and narration of Barbara Kingsolver. She captured the tone and nuances of the language so exactly that the dialogue was an accurate protrait of the area. Aside from the environmental issues, her portrait of the lifestyle and attitudes of rural southern communities was pitch perfect. The exploration of all the lives of the people there put the difficulties of conveying the critical environmental dangers in full view.
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