Having read a great deal aboutTudor England, I was certain I would be bored with the repetition. I found myself happily surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. The narration is wonderful and the history accurate for the most part. The sections Weir fictionalized for the sake of the story were believable and rang true to the actual historical reports. Whether you read about this period of history or not, I think you'll find this portrait of Elizabeth I before she becomes Queen, a compelling and fun listen about a smart, wily, and human woman. Cudos to the narrator! Just listening to her voice was a pleasure.
I would recommend this with some reservations. The book is being touted as the new "The Help". If you're expecting a nuanced book like "The Help", you may be disappointed. The characters seemed cliched and one-dimensional and the story line contrived. While it had its sweet and wise moments, it often seemed overwrought with too many plot lines, many of them rather immaterial to the point of the book (life's ups and downs and how we redeem ourselves anyway). The book would have been better with fewer plot lines and more in-depth character development of fewer characters. As new characters and their stories unfolded, I found myself asking "And the point is?" The ending goes on and on and on and I wondered if the author just couldn't sum it up. That said, I listened to the end and felt moderately engaged with the sometimes over-long story.
I love historical fiction and was hopeful that this would introduce me to a period of ancient history. The history is secondary to an obvious and not too interesting plot. The plot devices are clumsy and the "mystery" very unmysterious. The writing is mediocre, the characters shallow and predictable, and the plot reminded me of "bodice busters" without the good sex scenes. Some of the prose made me wonder if the author was kidding. I can't find my note but I think the line was " . . . her skin was as luminous as an unshucked oyster". Really?! The one star was in praise of anyone who writes a book.
I have to say that I enjoyed this, but not as much as "Mistress in the Art of Death". The main character's relationships are less intense and less interesting than in "Mistress". I also found the mystery less interesting and a bit harder to follow. It's an enjoyable listen but didn't grab me. It's almost like the author was struggling to compete with her first book. Well-narrated.
This work relies on plot rather than character development. The prose style isn't anything to write home about but doesn't get in the way. Some aspects of the plot are too coincidental to be believed but all in all it was good entertainment. You won't be deeply moved or have any life changing experiences, but it is a good car trip book. Light reading/listening.
Started this but can't imagine continuing. The narration is terrible! The narrator(s) sound bored. I am sorry I bought it and am not going to continue to listen.
What should be an interesting story is marred by 7th grade level prose and really bad narration. The narrator's voice is very modern and young - perhaps better suited to romances for young girls. The story, while simplistic, would have been better served with more gravitas in the narration department. The characters are selfish, silly, and predictable. I find myself feeling annoyed instead of engaged. I'm about a third of the way through and haven't decided whether to finish listening or not. I keep hoping the prose style and characters will be less annoying, but alas . . .
I enjoyed this book immensely. While versed in parts of English history, the reign of Henry II is new for me. The connection between the plot and its historical significance is cleverly concealed until the end. Adelia, the main character, is anything but a wilting violet and unusual for her time. I was concerned that this book would be gruesome as it revolves around the violent murders of children. While the details are set forth, they are not presented in a gratuitous or prurient manner. There are a few missteps in the writing but none that made me want to put the book down. The narration is fabulous! The author's comments setting out what parts of the book are factual and what parts are fictionalized is narrated at the end which gives the book added historical interest. I highly recomment it!
I loved this book! Nuanced, unsentimental portraits of three remarkable women, two of them African American maids and one a young white woman who questions the status quo of the 60's during the civil rights movement. While these events are important historically, they don't generally appeal to me as subjects for fiction. I was drawn to listen because of the stellar reviews and I'm so glad I did. I was deeply touched and now, having finished miss the characters as though they are friends who've moved away. The story evolves easily and naturally. I couldn't put my IPod down. The writing is insightful, artful, real, subtle and respecful. A classic. The narration is beyond wonderful.
Most of the forty hours I spent listening to this book I amused myself by planning what I would say about it. It wasn't bad enough to stop, but it's a bit of a slog. The characters are moderately interesting and there's some history, but it's a soap opera - good guys and bad guys duking it out - over and over and over. I kept thinking, "enough already!". Truly, it's one struggle after another, some graphic and disturbing violence. The prose was basic, the story only moderately interesting and very repetitive (ie. the bad guy raped and pillaged his way through the book which got old), and the end didn't ring my cathedral bells. Kind of a set up for the next long book. The one stellar fact is that the narration is outstanding.
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