This is a great book, beautifully researched and written. I wish, however, that I had bought the hard copy. The narrator's style was cold and uninvolving, although at the beginning I was hoping to get used to it. After 40 hours, unfortunately, I did not; she lacked all passion for her subject. Doris Kearns Goodwin would have been a much better choice as reader. It didn't matter to me that Toren was a woman, and she has a beautiful speaking voice. This brilliant book deserved better.
This was possibly the poorest narration job I've experienced in many years of listening to books. It was overwrought, melodramatic, and made Conroy sound like a whining, self-absorbed humorless scold. I kept trying to imagine how a line of narrative would read in book form, without the narrator getting in the way. Reading this book would have been better. But not by much. Horrible childhood, I get it. It's an ugly tale of self-aggrandizement and score settling and trashing family members and others for a variety of sins against Pat Conroy. It sort of damages my opinion of him and his books. I wish I could get my credit back.
As one who dislikes throwing around superlatives, I must call this book an astounding revelation. As an Irish American on my mother's side whose great-grandparents emigrated to New Orleans during the Great Famine, I now realize how profoundly uninformed I was about this tragic period in Irish history. If I thought about it at all, I just assumed it was caused by crop failures for a few years. Now I understand that it was greed, indifference, political expediency, British prejudice against the Irish for their perceived "laziness" and "unwillingness to help themselves" that caused a serious problem to become a catastrophe.
My sweet and gentle Irish grandmother, who was born in New Orleans in 1876, could not be riled by much, but we learned to dare not mention the English to her. I always thought that was quaint and amusing. I'd give anything if she were here today so that I could learn what she knew.
I had just finished reading "Cooked" by Michael Pollan, so I downloaded this book which had been on my wish list for a while. I also recently listened to "Flight Bahavior" and really liked Barbara Kingsolver as the narrator. I was immediately pulled in to the narrative of their year of eating deliberately. I felt really inspired, and realized I was ready for this book.
Some people found its tone a bit preachy, but it appealed to me because it just made so much sense, as did "Cooked." I started buying nearly all my meat, dairy and produce from our Saturday morning farmers market, and whole wheat bread from a local bakery, as Pollan suggested. I just finally got that Big Agribusiness doesn't much care how healthy and environmentally responsible the products they produce are.
A supermarket tomato sold in February is inedible and buying it is just dumb. I'm trying not to bore my friends and family; my daughter gives me the eye-roll. I've started to really enjoy meal planning and cooking, and for those of you who are ready for this message, read this book!
So much is wrong with this book; where to start? With the cardboard, cartoon characters, I guess. The museum honchos - prissy, silly, clueless. Seriously, they're more concerned about the bad publicity of having to postpone the exhibition opening than the fact that three grisly murders have occurred there the day before, and the unknown person/thing who did the killing is STILL THERE? The hot shot, pompous head of the FBI in NY who snidely dismisses southern FBI agent Pendergast, he of the honey-dripping accent that everyone thinks makes him dim-witted? We immediately know that these folks are in for serious humilation when the sainted Pendergast shows them for fools.
Then there's the narration. The reader is adequate when speaking in a normal voice, but his accents (an Austrian and a Scot sound like Col. Klink and the Gorton Fisherman, respectively) are laughable.
But maybe the worst part is the loud and annoying special effects - tunnel, walkie-talkie, etc. - that had me grabbing the volume control button repeatedly to avoid ear damage.
There was never the slightest sense of tension or threat as the plot progressed. I did get this book on sale, but it was still a waste of time and money.
This book kept my interest because I believed I was listening to a well-crafted psychological thriller. The problem: it was all setup and no payoff. It needed clever twists, feints to keep you off-balance. Maybe that maturity will come to this author with time. The plot premise had good potential, but it didn't deliver in the end.
On the first page and doesn't let go. We are drawn in from the moment our hero climbs on the ledge to jump, and suddenly we're hip-deep in Ukranian bad guys who sound like a chorus of Boris Badenovs and enough plot twists to make us dizzy. You could bring your critical eye here and find many Oh Please moments, but it's much more fun to just go with it and enjoy the ride.
I realized nearing the end of this book that I was saying a silent prayer: Please don't end please don't end... I want to follow these people's lives forever. Arthur and Kel's characters were so deftly rendered that there was never a hint of self-pity or melodrama about them. I haven't felt such empathy for fictional characters in a long time. This wonderful book deserves more than five stars.
This was a beautiful book, many-layered and satisfying. I know that good fiction can and often does end leaving open questions about the lives of the characters. I hadn't appreciated how warmly satisfying it is to follow a story like this one to its fully realized conclusion.
And who but Elizabeth McGovern could have rendered the story with more grace, empathy and warmth? Moriarty and McGovern combined to create a flawless listening experience.
Now I absolutely love him! This book was honest, inspiring, fascinating. He was unsparing about his flaws and mistakes, had no false modesty about his many achievements, and generous to his colleagues. When there was criticism, he gentlemanly changed the names of the characters involved. Although I was moved to do a little research to discover the identity of "Mr. Pleasant" in one story. His is a life well lived and well told.
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