I first read the four original James Herriott books in the late '70s and early '80s, when they were first issued. The U.S. government records audio books for blind folks like myself, and the readers they get are good. However, in the cases of the Herriot books, they made the huge mistake of using an American reader. Fortunately, this recording has a British reader--an absolute must for these stories. Mr. Timothy is exceptional, and sounds a great deal like the man who played Herriot in the TV series "All Creatures Great and Small," in the '80s. The decades between haven't taken the fun out of these tales, and neither has an extremely unkind biography of Herriot, though the author certainly tried to destroy what Herriot created. I close with a line from the original Dr. Doolittle movie--"Maybe what the doctor tells me isn't all together true, but I love every tale he tells me. I don't know any better ones, do you?"
The only better Sheldon book than this is "A Stranger in the Mirror," and Audible hasn't got it.
So this is his best work that Audible has.
Sheldon does what John D. MacDonald also excelled at-drawing highly unlikable characters and filling you with desire to see how low they can sink into the quagmire of human depravity.
Noe!l Page is a spoilt French girl. She runs away from an arrangement her father made for her-straight into the arms of the worst sort of man a girl can find.
Larry Douglas is a beast no one girl can tame.
Meantime, Katherine Alexander is a Chicago beauty and intellectual. But she is an emotional cripple.
She finds the right man in Washington, DC-then leaves him in a minute when she meets Larry Douglas.
But Noe!l Page has been keeping notes on Larry, no matter that he's across the Atlantic, and she has a plan for him.
The narration is terrific. The reader is an Englishman with a rare gift for voices.
I am particularly impressed that he can do American accents-usually a reach for even great British actors.
This is a very adult book. As in every Sheldon book, the sex is rendered in gasping (unrealistic) detail.
It travels effortlessly from Chicago to France, back to the States, then to a frenetic finish in Greece.
The time is before, during and just after World War II, a time frame Sheldon made his own in "Stranger in the Mirror," as well as this book.
Stephen King can still write a short story that packs a wallop. He does it twice here. "Blockade Billy" particularly appeals to me, since it's a baseball story, and I'm a huge fan, as King is.
He creates a baseball team in dire need of a catcher-and a catcher who will be one-no matter the cost.
Cost is a factor in the second story, "Morality," to be exact, the cost of a woman's soul. She and her husband are in desperate need of money, but the act they commit to get it is more than the lady can handle.
Blockade Billy is read by Craig Wasson, who is as good as it gets and clearly loves his baseball.
Whoever reads "Morality," it's a good yarn too.
This is an incredible book, and Craig Wasson's narration makes it so much better it isn't funny. Wasson doesn't just bring the characters to life, he brings the book itself to life in a way few narrators can manage.
The novel itself is awesome-only Stephen King could posit a world where the Kennedy assassination is better than the possibilities if Oswald's bullet had gone elsewhere.
Jake, the main character, has one chance to go backwards, a million to one chance any man reading this would probably take.
King reconstructs both the good and the bad of the late '50s and early '60s which few manage. Most gloss over the '50s as a perfect decade, which it must have been-if you weren't black, Jewish, homosexual or disabled in any way at all.
King has written once you can't put down, for the first time since "Green Mile."
I'm used to loving everything Joan Rivers does. Sorry, not this time.
She just wasn't funny.
particularly the material about her dog Spike I found appalling, and that's a word I never hoped to use to describe anything done by a woman I admire so much.
I know she has aged, but this just never should have been recorded.
Her book, written 7 years later, is 7 times as funny on one page as this entire thing is.
I was ready to write a melting love letter to this book and its author-until I find how much had been left out!
Can we talk here?
Where was the part with the funny nicknames for all our 50 states? Where were some of the other hilarious jokes?
What was there was excellent. I loved it to death. I've loved Joan Rivers since the early '80s when she subbef for Johnny Carson, and appeared on Hollywood Squares. What a hoot.
solid 4 out of 5, should have been 5 but for the missing material.
This book, and "the Stand," by Stephen King, go back and forth in my mind as far as being the best book ever. Mr. Horsley brings this book to life as only a Texan can do, even better than the skilled narrator who did the audio for the Library of Congress. He was good--Horsley is exceptional. He captures the brashness of Gus, the savagery of Blue Duck, the timid nature of July Johnson, and so much more. With such an epic to work with, many potential narrators would be overwhelmed. This reading lends an added dimension to an amazing book--more realistic than anything John Ford ever put on the screen. In this real Wild West, the good guys certainly don't always win, and even the good guys show the character flaws that make them seem more real than any hero John Wayne ever portrayed. McMurtry only wrote two other books worth bothering with--Streets of Laredo, the sequel to this book, and "Last Picture Show." Other than that, don't even bother. Forget the two prequels, they're worthless. This is easily my favorite western, and as i stated at the outset, one of my two favorite books of all.
This is the first of an awesome series. When I first read it, when it was on the bestseller list, the narration was done by an American. Even with that handicap, these stories made me laugh, cry, and think. They're back, and better than ever, with Christopher Timothy reading them. He excels at the voices, and well he should--having portrayed Herriott on TV. Time hasn't taken the fun out of these books, and neither has an unflattering biog of Herriott done after his death in 1995, although its author certainly tried to wreck the fun of these books. The stories bring happiness to even the most harsh experiences. The tales of failed dates with his dream girl would give heart to a man facing those struggles in these modern times. The tales of an outsider becoming an insider in an often clanish community are a pure delight. Read on, and enjoy.
I have always loved animals, particularly my 4 Seeing Eye dogs. In my teens, these books were new, and I read them all. This could be the best of the series, because of the wildly funny stories of Herriott, a smallish man, trying to party with Granville Bennett, an overpowering party animal no man can keep up with--though he obviously enjoyed trying. Add the tale of Herriott finally establishing a beach head with Helen, after a number of disastrous attempts, a tale to bring a smile to any man who chased, and finally won, a delightful woman, and you have a book to read repeatedly. I now know that Christopher Timothy, the narrator, played Herriott on TV, and that too brings back memories. The series was the last show Mom, Dad and I could watch together, and it made us all laugh--even Dad whose strength was nearly gone, and Mom who seldom found cause to laugh. Read again, and again, and enjoy.
I was prompted to revisit this old gem because of the recent peanut butter scare. At least, to-day, the perpetrators of that crisis will be dealt with. It wasn't always so, as this book clearly states. This book is a difficult assignment, but the narrator clearly worked long and hard to pronounce the Lithuanian words and proper names. This is a man who brings a book to life--many narrators can't, or won't. This book is not intended for the young, or the faint of heart, as the descriptions of brutality, and the descriptions of conditions under which food was once prepared, are nearly as graphic as Edward R. Murrow's rendering of Buchenwald.
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