This is one of Scott Turow's best novels, and John Bedford Lloyd does an outstanding job as reader. "Burden" focuses on a character from "Presumed Innocent," the defense attorney, Sandy Stern.
Turow doesn't flinch from exploring some of the more unsavory areas of human experience. There are scenes in "Burden" that are challenging in that regard. However, it's to Turow's credit that he is willing to delve into his characters' inner longings so fully.
The plotting is very strong. Just as we think we're beginning to understand what's going on, a new level of chicanery introduces itself. Sandy Stern's extended family is made up of fascinating characters, well-drawn by Turow. As with all of his best novels, each step of the plot is intriguing and the ending utterly satisfying.
I read this novel years ago, and didn't remember liking it that much. But I enjoyed it immensely with this re-reading. The characters are complex and the plot has plenty of twists and turns. The ending is a bit weak, although it would work extremely well in a film version. But that's just a little bit wrong with a great novel. The narrator is top-notch.
When I got started on this five-part audiobook, I was really interested, despite the narrator's rather limited range of inflection and characterization. I was still interested in Part 2 and pretty interested in Part 3. I had to make myself listen to Parts 4 and 5, especially Part 5. The plot gets weaker and weaker as the author examines and re-examines the same characters in the same way, without shedding any new light. When the author moves on to another generation, they are less interesting, and they have the same tendencies and rivalries as their elders. There just isn't enough plot to stretch out through this long, long book. Especially with a narrator with such a limited range.
The interweaving of the various plots and characters is masterful. This is one of the best of Rendell's novels I've read. The characters are fascinating. Their failings and struggles are involving and often touching. And, miracle of miracles, it doesn't end in misery! The narrator does a wonderful job with all the different accents. He portrays women well, which is challenging. This is an audiobook that you can read over and over again. Ten stars.
I've read "Angela's Ashes" many times, in a hard-copy version and as an audiobook. It's one of my favorites of all time. And who could read it better than its author, Frank McCourt. I remember that the first time I read it, I thought to myself, "I'm not going to read any more if one more baby dies." Luckily for me, none more did.
The depth of the tragic events of McCourt's family is intense. It would be unbearable, if it weren't for McCourt's ability to find humor in any relationship or circumstance. Not many books have made me laugh out loud. This is one of them.
In fact, the balance between despair and humor is an essential element of the greatness of "Angela's Ashes." This is a book that I know I'll return to again and again and always find satisfying.
I got "Eye of the Needle" as a special Audible offering. It is somewhat entertaining. When it comes to serious novels, I prefer fuller characterizations and more interesting plots. This is "standard fare."
"Careless in Red" is extremely well-written. The reader, Charles Keating, is first rate. Luckily for me, I had read the novel in which Thomas' wife is killed, so I wasn't "at sea." I can't recall at the moment the title of that previous novel. I would recommend that, if you're new to George's Scotland Yard's Thomas Lynley novels, you start with an earlier novel. Of course, reading them in order would be best.
Elizabeth George is a masterful writer and her novels are quite challenging. Her characters are multifaceted and often filled with inner turmoil.
The reason I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 is that I think that there are just two many story lines to follow, involving minor characters. Or, I should say, characters I wish had had more minor roles in the novel. However, this is an excellent novel.
"Bridget Jones's Diary" is one of the funniest books I've ever read. The narrator, Tracie Bennett, is very good and does marvelous voices for all the various characters in the book. I've read this book about 20 times now--as an unabridged hard-copy book and an audio--but it never grows stale. As I recall the follow-up, "Bridget Jones, The Edge of Reason" was excellent, too.
I haven't listened to the audiobook yet, so I will return and either edit this or add another posting about the audio version.
THIS IS A FABULOUS NOVEL. There is no one (I know, there will be someone, a mean person, for instance) who will not enjoy this book.
A close friend of mine who was prevented, by her *own father* to continue school after the 6th-grade (in the 1940s, in a dirt-poor, rural, black community), because she had to go to work and bring in money, LOVED THIS NOVEL (past tense only because she's deceased).
I have a Master's in English, and I LOVE THIS NOVEL. And everyone in-between will love this novel, too. You will laugh so hard that you will be embarrassed if you're out in public. You will find yourself laughing at the memory of some of the priceless scenes, when you're sitting on the bus, and you'll have to cover your face, if you don't want everyone looking at you as if you're an outright crazy person.
And it will touch your heart deeply and restore, if this is needed, your faith in the human race.
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