Los Angeles, CA | Member Since 2013
Yes! I would like to see more focused research about Lady Almina's life rather than listen to lists of who was at dinner, what was served and who wore what.
I liked the son's adventures the best.
Based on the comments of other readers, I was excited about reading this book. I listened to the audible version and I must say that, while interesting, it didn't engage me as I thought it would. Yes, it tells the story of the countess of Highclere Castle, the site of Downton Abbey; and, yes, Lady Almina lived a very compelling life, especially in her years as a nurse during World War I. But I was immediately wary when the Introduction states that this is not a biography nor is it a history. So, then, what is it? Much of the book (especially the early chapters) are lists culled from guest books and photographs. Who came to dinner. What did Almina wear on her wedding day? Who were her bridesmaids. Where did they have their wedding reception and what was served? Frankly, this was not particularly compelling to me.
The book gets more interesting when journalistic records of the time improve and we learn more about Lord Carnarvon's many trips to Egypt and his discovery of King Tut's tomb.
This is rich material but because of the lack of sufficient research, it lacks a deep exploration of the key relationships in Lady Almina's life. After all, relationships form the foundation of the engaging Downton Abbey...that's what keeps us involved in the show...and that's what is missing here.
It's a classic for a reason. This book is a wonderful, compelling and searing slice of life in 1930s Alabama. The author's examination of prejudice is exceptionally told, without being preachy. The story, from the little girl Scout's point of view, is honest and true. And, by the end, every female reader will be in love with Atticus Finch while every male will want to emulate him. If you eschewed it during your school days, it's still not to late to read it. It's a timeless story that will stay with you long after you close the book.
From the moment I joined Audible.com, I waited for this book to be available. It is an incredible artistic achievement by an Oscar-winning actress. Sissy Spacek reads the novel superbly, showing respect for every word on the page. It is a remarkable artistic achievement.
Thank you, Audible, for finally getting this book to your listeners. It is an A+ listening experience.
There are some things about this novel about poor sisters living in the slums of Paris in the late 1800s that I really liked. For example, the author paints a vivid picture of the place and time so we can almost feel what Marie and Antoinette are going through. When Marie works so hard to pass her ballet exam to move up to the cadre, the reader can feel the poor girl's fatigue. Basically, I liked the story (up to a point) and got caught up in their dramatic situations -- how they both had to work so hard for so little; how they had to deal with their father's death and their mother's alcoholism; how Antoinette is so in love with the loser Emile that you want to just shake her; and how Marie succumbs to her patron, Mr. Lefevre, which nearly ruins her life and almost destroys her future.
The author's senses of verisimilitude of the time and place feels spot-on.
But, there is no joy in this book and, most importantly, very little hope for these characters. It is dreary, depressing and dramatic. It is also somewhat repetitious, as you see similar scenes play out at different times again and again. If the book were shorter, the dreariness wouldn't feel quite so overwhelming. But, it is long and all-encompassing and soon becomes oppressive.
The book is nicely written; the author's use of language is superb. And, she creates an environment that is realistic and characters that you feel for. But, eventually, it was too oppressive an experience. I wanted to like this more than I did...but I just didn't.
The narration was superb, though. I really loved the voices of the two sisters; they were distinct and yet had similar tones.
I liked the setup, environment and even the ghosts but the language is so difficult that much of the story and characters are obscured. The main character is never really developed and neither are the children. The notion of the ghosts doesn't pay off (to me) and so I was never really engaged in the story. I suppose my sensibilities have changed with the times but the story of a governess who takes care of two children in a big country home that is haunted by the ghosts of the old governess and butler just didn't captivate me. It would seem that this setup is ripe for tension and terror but the language keeps the listener at such a distance that the emotions didn't ever heat up for me.
In what could've been a terrific and haunting story with many layers and dimensions, instead, I found this to be a disappointment.
On the other hand, the narrators were both excellent.
I will admit that Hamlet is my favorite Shakespearean play and the idea of this book didn't sound appealing when I first heard about it. But, because I love the play so much and the narrations of Richard Armitage, I gave it a try and I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised.
In a word, this novel is EXCELLENT. It doesn't change any of Shakespeare's plot but it does offer a tremendous amount of added depth to the story and to the characters. For example, we get a glimpse into the depths of Ophelia's despair and depression so when her story is completed, we have a better understanding of what happened.
The authors have done a masterful job of giving new life to well-known and much beloved material. This was a stunning and wonderful listening experience...which brings me to Richard Armitage, the book's narrator.
Mr. Armitage is a fantastic narrator and I'm a fan of all the books he has read. But this could be the jewel in his crown. He does such a superlative job reading this dense, complex novel. The listener never gets confused, despite the myriad number of characters and accents required of the narrator. It is a phenomenal performance, one of the best I've ever heard in any genre.
Thank you, Audible, for commissioning this novel. It was truly an exceptional listening experience.
Whenever I need a swift mood change, I immediately go to Cabin Pressure…it doesn't matter which season or what episode, the program never fails to disappoint me. Every episode is hysterical and well-acted and I laugh heartily at every line. I'm so disappointed that the show is over...
I liked this book quite a lot. The characters are fresh and the situation is all too real. I also like the way the kids not only interact with each other but with the adults...everything feels honest and true.
I knew it was going to be sad but I had no idea just how sad. While the author's depiction of cancer is honest, it's not something I think I would have read had it not been such a popular novel.
The narrator was excellent and made the experience even more enriching.
But, life is difficult enough without reading about children with cancer!
I have been living in a cave...but so glad I'm out of it now that I've discovered Georgette Heyer's Regency novels. After reading "Venetia" and "Sylvester: or the Wicked Uncle," I turned to "The Convenient Marriage" and was equally enchanted by her characters and the wild-and-woolly plot.
In this story, The Earl of Rule, needing a good marriage, makes an offer to Lizzie, the eldest Winwood sister, but she is in love with someone else. Lizzie feels obligated to marry the duke to save her family's current destitute situation, so Lizzie's youngest sister Horatia steps up to rescue her forlorn sister. She makes Rule an offer: she will marry him in place of Lizzie to rescue the family's fortunes but will allow him to live his life as he always has (meaning, he may continue his affair with Lady Massey) and she will be left alone to live as she will.
The deal is struck...and then all hell breaks loose as Horatia gets into one scrape after another, Rule realizes he is really in love with his wife, she feels like her antics have ruined everything and her gambling ne'er-do-well brother Pelham oddly enough tries to come to her rescue.
It's a convoluted plot with lots of characters, masked bandits, sword fights, secret identities...but it's a delight -- funny, charming, enchanting and sweet. If you like Jane Austen's work, you will love Georgette Heyer's stories, which take place at a similar time but are infused with tons of humor and plenty of sweetness.
A huge plus is the narration by Richard Armitage, who somehow manages to do all the voices and make them sound distinct. His narration is a major asset to this story. His voice is so spectacular, I would really, honestly, listen to him read the phone book. He transformed this story into something really engaging and fun.
This book is utterly engaging, one of my favorite reads of the year so far. Charming and funny but with important underlying themes concerning true love, expectations and appearances, this book was a delight from beginning to end.
I loved Venetia's strength of character -- how good and honest and trustworthy she is -- and how Georgette Heyer plays with that character by having Venetia do what she can to destroy her own purity in the name of true love.
While I will admit to being a fan of Richard Armitage, this is the first time I've listened to him narrating a book and his reading was captivating and so entertaining. His various voices were pure gold and none of them sounded like the other (how does he do that?!). I was completely charmed by his narration which made the experience so much more fun.
Heathcliff and Catherine survives the cruel tests of time, I found myself perplexed by the lack of likability of these two protagonists. Catherine is flighty and immature while Heathcliff is surly and mean. They both did things to hurt each other; is that true love? The fact that they love each other through the difficulties of their lives doesn't assuage the hurt they cause each other during their lifetime.
The setting is certainly luscious and the supporting characters are interesting. But, rather than find Heathcliff's undying love for Catherine as overwhelmingly romantic, I couldn't get past how cruel he was to everyone around him. It made me sad.
As a young woman, I was thoroughly entranced by Heathcliff's dark, brooding and romantic nature. But he is much less attractive to me now.
I know I will be cast aside as a renegade and maybe even a fraudulent English major. But, there are more intriguing protagonists who are brooding and romantic in literature that I found more likable -- Mr. Darcy and John Thornton, for example.
The narration by Janet McTeer and David Timson was luscious and wonderful, particularly Ms. McTeer's. It was a delight to the ears and I loved hearing every second of it.
4.5 Stars. I wasn't quite sure what to think when I began this book -- it was three disparate stories that I knew were going to connect but couldn't figure out how and, I wasn't sure I wanted to know as the characters seemed so ordinary and even somewhat superficial. And then, in a split-second, the book took off and I was hooked!
While some may look at this as a piece of women's fiction, I believe it runs deeper than that. To me, it is a treatise on guilt: how people live with this very strong emotion and how their feelings about guilt affect those around them. It begins with the perfectly ordered life of Cecilia and John-Paul and their perfect little family of three beautiful girls; it continues with Tess whose husband Will is leaving her for her close-as-a-sister cousin Felicity, causing Tess to engage in a wild affair of her own; it ends with Rachel whose daughter Janey was found murdered decades before yet she can't get over the pain, especially when she uncovers evidence that -- to her -- shows incontrovertible proof that someone she always suspected must be guilty of the crime.
The author moves between the three stories with ease until they all coalesce. And, despite the plethora of characters, they are all treated with care and seriousness.
This was a good read -- engaging, involving, dramatic and entertaining. I very much enjoyed Caroline Lee's narration. She hit all the right notes with her reading and captured the emotion of the characters extremely well.
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