I loved this book. Chabon is brilliant, and to have Clarke Peters (aka Lester from The Wire) read it to me was almost too good to be true. I live in the East Bay, so I loved the references to places big and small. I was also fascinated by Chabon's ability to write about things he hasn't completely experienced (i.e. childbirth) in ways that based on my own experience, rang true. This is a wonderful fictional piece of local history and a story woven around very colorful characters. I miss all of the folks already.
Doris Kearns Goodwin gave the nation an invaluable gift by weaving together so many primary documents to write this book. She brings both Eleanor and FDR to life and in doing so gives voice to the sub-themes of the 1940s such as race, gender issues, xenophobia, etc. It's a US History teacher's dream. Unfortunately the narration left something to be desired; aside from some non-standard pronunciations I was baffled as to why he chose to read Eleanor's lines in the most silly, sing-songy voice that made her sound like an out-of-touch dimwit. Fortunately the history speaks so loudly that despite that distraction, listeners come away with the true picture of who she was.
This is one of the best books I've ever read (well, heard.) Hochschild weaves hundreds of strands of history into a gripping and compelling narrative. As soon as I finished I just started it over. And Arthur Morey does a superb job - even if the book wasn't so fantastic, it would be worth listening to just to hear him.
I couldn't finish this, which I realize doesn't give me much authority to write a review. But this is what I would have liked to hear before selecting it. It's a page-turner and it's certainly not boring. What's wrong with that? Usually nothing. But I felt like I was being strung along through a non-stop maze of violence, suffering, explicit sex scenes, hangings, lust, death, etc. with no time to recover or process the events as they occurred. This is an action-packed plot that happens to take place 900 years ago. I wanted to be immersed more in the broad themes of history but instead I feel like I have literary PTSD.
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