I was not sure about this book, but I felt like I had to finish it. I liked the story line and the setting. But, I kept thinking something was missing. I finally realized towards the end that I really didn't know the characters. They were there, they conversed, things happened to them, but they had no depth. In addition, the modern day character seemed to be channeling her ancestor, but that was never really confirmed at the end.
I really loved the premise of this book and I thought that it could have been a serious exploration of losing faith. But it wasn't. The characters were there, the plot was set, and yet it stayed on the surface, never delving into the philosophy of a spiritual crisis. Barbara O'Neal's writing, especially her realistic dialogue, was very good and the narration by Tanya Eby was spot on. I just feel liked the author missed the opportunity to go deeper.
I have to say that this book was extraordinarily clever. You would probably have to read it more than once to really appreciate the extent of the acumen that was needed to write it. The ability to combine astrology with a unique place and time (1860's Gold Rush in New Zealand) signals a very talented writer. The swirling of characters as they mirror the night sky made for a great tale, and yet there was something lacking. The attention was placed so much on the "mechanics" of it all that it lacked emotion. And, real attachment to any one character was just not possible. In the end, all the players were just living descriptors of the signs and planets, seemingly lacking any soul...which is why any good astrologer knows that a chart is nothing without the influence of spirit.
This book reminded me of Jonathan Stroud's young adult fiction in its dark/fantasy storyline, but lacked Stroud's writing polish. The idea of joining a Golem and a Jinni in a relationship in turn of the century NY, however, was quite unique. The novel, unfortunately, had its flaws. There were times that I really had to remind myself that it was a fantasy because sometimes the "magical" characters inconsistently showed both human and non-human traits. And, as all current books, it was too long and poorly edited. The narration by George Guidall was outstanding.
Guzeman's writing was lyrical, Cassandra Campbell's narration was lovely, and the plot was interesting. But this novel was very depressing...a treatise on how one woman's evil destroyed the lives around her. There was great inconsistency and naivete in the actions of the characters which made the story seem less believable. I think a better editor could have taken this novel to the next level.
I probably wouldn't keep reading these books but for the fact I've been reading them for decades. And, I'm curious how the series will end. In W is for Wasted, Kinsey is much more emotional than in Grafton's other novels. Her relationship phobias are a bit more pronounced and you get the sense that she is becoming more lonely. The mystery part of the story was Ok, maybe a little predictable, but always entertaining. And, Judy Kaye's narration as always, was stellar. I would have given it a 3.5 if I could.
This book was so many things...epic, sad, funny, educational, weird, creepy, and gruesome. A strange description for the life of a wealthy, mostly spinster, botanist spanning the 19th century. Elizabeth Gilbert certainly has an incredible imagination and a beautiful way with words. And, the narrator for the audiobook, Juliet Stevenson, was spot on. The main character was an intriguing mix of brilliance and innocence with real human flaws. And, yet, I just didn't form a bond with her. In addition, I found the communication issues with all the various players, which lead to devastating life choices, frustrating. This is what kept this sweeping and unusual novel from being a 5 star book, for me.
I have very much enjoyed Dara Horn's other books and even attended a writing conference where she spoke and so I was really looking forward to this novel. I plowed through it, hoping that my opinion would change, but it did not. I could not connect with any of the characters and did not feel that the Josie/Judy saga ended with the spiritual insight of the Joseph story. Instead, it seemed more like an outlandish soap opera. In addition, the three parallel plots did not meld well together and moving from one to the other felt jarring. I was really interested in Maimonides and the Guide for the Perplexed, but was disappointed that this was not explored with greater depth (ie: Josie toying with these philosophical concepts at greater length). I suspect a better editor would have helped to make this a more powerful piece of writing. I usually like Carrington MacDuffie, but I think she was miscast for this book.
If I could, I would give this book a 3.5. It was a unique premise - searching for the origin of the noodle along the silk road. And, I really got a sense of "place" as the author moved west in her travels. I did feel that the last two stops - Greece and Italy got less attention. And, the "personal journey" of the author could have been explored in a bit more depth. I enjoyed the travelogue more than the actual cooking experiences. AUDIBLE ALERT: The reader mispronounces the spice "cumin" throughout the book.
Barbara O'Neal takes a romance and steps it up a notch with interesting characters and an unusual story line. It is also refreshing to see characters that are humanly flawed, yet still likable. I found the narrator a bit annoying as she ended each sentence with the same upbeat tone.
Certainly not the greatest of literature, but what can I say, I love Lauren Graham. It was so nice to hear the Lorelei voice of the Gilmore Girls come through as opposed to her character on Parenthood. This was a sweet, entertaining story about a young actress trying to get that big break. I would love to know how much of it was autobiographical and how much was made up. I will miss Graham's voice on my IPhone now that the story is over!
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