The book is really 4.5 stars. It's an excellent story, although there are a few loose ends. I first read it when I was 12 or 13, and I still enjoy the story.
The narration, however, was very distracting to me. I'd rate it at about 2.5 to 3 stars. I like Kellie Martin, and when she's just narrating it's mostly fine. But, all her characters sound the same. The only difference was if they were from "the cove" or not. It was frustrating, especially during dialogue scenes. It was hard to keep track of who was speaking, and there were several times when I had it wrong. All in all, I'd prefer to read it than listen to her narration.
One bonus of the audio, though, is an interview with the author's son. It was very interesting and answered one of the complaints I had about the ending. However, if you don't know the story, wait to listen to the interview until after you've finished the book as it gives the ending away. For some reason, the interview is at the beginning. It would have been better if they'd put it at the end.
Overall, it's a good story for young and old alike.
I really wanted to like this book, but I have to be honest and say I struggled with it at times. For a while, I wasn't sure I'd make it through the book, but I'm glad I stuck it out. It did get more interesting. However, I found I could only handle it for short periods at a time. I learned a lot and found some things very interesting, but other parts were VERY tedious. Maybe an abridged version (yikes!) would have been better. I just didn't care about some of the details of china patterns and the animals at celebrations, especially since they were the types of things that would have been found then, but we don't know if they really were part of her celebrations. Details are important, but this author just went too far into the minutiae at times.
Other people have criticized her portrayal of Cleopatra, saying the author was too sympathetic and her views were skewed. That may be, but I think she does make a good point that all the recorded histories were written by men who were predisposed not to like Cleopatra. The author makes some good arguments for her point of view. I guess we'll never really know the truth, but I would guess this view of Cleopatra is closer to the truth than many of the other views we've been given of her. I don't think the author is trying to be sympathetic, but rather fair.
Less whining, less recounting of her daily totals, like-able characters, and a plot.
It was SO boring and annoying.
To be fair, my reaction to the reader may very well be tainted because I found the book so boring. The reading seemed boring, too, but it may have more to do with the subject than with her. I just couldn't separate them.
I rarely say things like this, but skip the book and watch the movie instead. The movie skims over the two main focuses of the book: whining and giving daily statistics???number of calories consumed, weight, number of cigarettes smoked, number of alcohol units, number of lottery tickets purchased, number of lottery numbers correct, and on and on. At least if I'd been reading the book, I could have skipped over those parts. But listening to them over and over drove me crazy. She goes up a pound, and her world comes crashing down. All she does is whine, and seriously, how does she still have a job?!? I have no sympathy for any of the characters, especially Bridget. I was so bored, I just stopped listening before I was even halfway through it. I enjoyed the movie and was looking forward to listening to the book. What a disappointment!
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