I believe about 30% of the book could have been cut and kept the story moving in a much better and more realistic way. The haphazard insertion of the dog's point of view as well as the side step of an Irish shopping trip did nothing to maintain or evolve the story. It was as if the author merely had some extra material, and chose to stuff it in to fill pages.
Stick to 3-4 main characters and actually write about them rather than use them as a fulcrum to launch into shallow 'thoughts' about a few people with whom then come in contact.
When she wrote about the trainers, she did a good job. When she wrote about the fringe, she seemed to do it for her own amusement, rather than for the story.
The repeated mispronunciation of common words is completely unacceptable in a professional reading.
La Jolla... come on... she isn't in kindergarten.
The recording editor should be fired.
There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to the intermittent 'horns' which play, quite loud I might add, randomly throughout the book. It serves no purpose other than to wake my children, as I listen to the book, on long car trips.
This is a very good book. I was surprised simply because I purchased it on sale as a 'first in the series' book only. I thought both the writing and the narration was very well done. So much so, that I purchased the next three books.
I think the book and story are pretty well done. However, the incredibly weak willed, whiny characters are almost too much to tolerate. I enjoy the story line and there are enough twists and interesting thoughts to keep it moving, albeit slowly at times. I think Williams could have cut 15-20% to make a much better book. My biggest issue is with the incredibly whiny, self-centered, feeble characters. This is the people Williams made, not poorly developed characters. I believe they are developed well, as slack, spineless, 'why me' characters. But the issue is that almost EVERY character is written this way. There is little spine in any character, with the 'inner talk' trending almost always towards the 'why does this have to happen to me... people should treat me better' kind of way. Rarely does a character dig in and show character... it is typically 'deus ex machina' forcing them to muddle through, rather than choice of the character. I think this is really brought to the surface by the very well done narration. Hill does a great job with varying voice, however, he seems to have an affinity for the whiny voice. Which, for this book is not a problem, given the sad-sack characters he has to work with. However, my only thought is that it is the combination of Hill's great narration and the overly wrought spinelessness of the characters synergistically grating against my being. I have never spoken to the radio in my car as much, telling the characters to get a grip and put in some effort.
The direct prose of Hemingway always leaves a clean feeling throughout the narrative. The brilliance of the scenes comes from the simple phrasing rather than through the self congratulatory word choices of so many authors. Hemingway does not write through a Thesaurus filter, as so many contemporary authors choose to do.
I have read the book several times throughout my life, and never felt the dreariness which pervaded Hurt's narration. I always felt more life in the book. Perhaps Hurt's characterization of the drunken despondancy of the characters is more accurate to the mindset of Hemingway, I don't know. However, I could not get past the over-riding feeling that I needed a drink myself, just to get through the chapter. I like Hurt's film career very much, with my favorite film being Children of a Lesser God, however, I did not like this narration.
The book is a clean, precise example of Hemingway's work. Having taken the summer, and essentially relived the book's experience, it is gratifying to relive those places through this book once again, albeit in a more sober form. From Paris to San Sebastian to Pamplona and even ending in Madrid, the book pulls me through the memories quite well.
It is amazing, having grown up thinking that I was a relatively courteous man, just how important and how obvious the thoughts in this book really have turned out to be. This is a book I wish I had read as a kid, then again as a teen, and then several times as a young adult.
The narration tone and cadence is great.
I highly recommend this book.
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