Loved this gently satirical novel about unpretentious people of all ages who live by their wits and accomplish remarkable things. The way the life of a 100-year old escapee from a grim retirement home unfolds to encompass a century of world history is amusing and remarkably well-written in a most engaging tongue-in-cheek style. A growing cast of other eccentric characters adds further spice to this tale of a surprising and appealing centenarian. This is a great little book. I recommend it highly.
The description made me think this book would be good, and I did listen to the end -- but only because I felt entitled to know the outcome after investing too much time hoping it would get better. I'm sick of mysteries with women protagonists who insist on doing stupid things and ignoring advice from others and their own heads, thus digging themselves deeper and deeper into trouble -- until the deus ex maxima ending that makes everything suddenly all right. I don't insist that all heroines be supremely strong and practical, but this one was practically catatonic except for her overly emotional inner commentary. Some of the side characters were interesting, especially the mother, and the plot might have been engaging if the main character hadn't been so irritating.
Delightful book -- full of interesting characters, dark humor, and social/political commentary delivered with a deft touch. Terrific narrator -- local color is spot on. Oh, and a good story too. I even enjoyed some oblique potshots at my august alma mater. All in all, highly recommended.
I don't expect all protagonists to be fully likeable, but Lee Fiora is one of the most self-absorbed, insensitive, imperceptive and downright tedious characters I've encountered. It's hard to believe that anyone so dim could have gotten into a prestigious prep school, much less with a scholarship, and even less that she would become the best friend of the most liked girl in her class. Somewhere I read a recommendation for this book as being better than another one I was considering. Can't remember what that was, but if this is really the case, I certainly don't want to! As a public school graduate who attended an Ivy League school, I don't have any reason to be defensive of prep schools, but I will say that even the "villains" in this book are more interesting than the "heroine." The book drones on far too long, and I kept thinking I should just stop listening. Maybe I kept at it thinking it would get better, but it didn't.
New to this author, I found the book absorbing, original and a welcome change from the sadly formulaic mysteries by more local authors that I have sometimes inadvertently purchased. Notable features include (a) well drawn and interesting characters and situations, (b) insight into an Italian legal system quite different from our own (sometimes jarringly so), and (c) a satisfactory resolution without any apparent compulsion to tie up all the loose ends (e.g., whodunit?). A refreshing experience that leaves me eager to read more of the author's work.
A fascinating story, well-narrated. This is the second book I've read in the space of a year where persistent, even heroic efforts by persons close to someone suddenly manifesting mental illness to find the right doctors and treatment have discovered an underlying physiological cause that, when treated, restored the patient to a normal life. The other book was "Saving Sammy: Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD." It is alarming to think of all those diagnosed with schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc., and consigned to numbing drug treatment and mental institutions who might also be victims of ailments that, if properly diagnosed and treated, would give them a productive life rather than dooming them to the shadows. It cries out for better research into possible physiological causes for the most serious and disabling mental illnesses.
I thought it was difficult and exasperating to live through the manufactured debt ceiling crisis on the outside, as a citizen, watching our political "leaders" give priority to playing their own ideological games over the national, and indeed international, interest. None of the players come off well, least of all the Obama White House, so I'm glad I listened to most of this after the election. Whether this coloration reflects reality or just Woodward's preferences and ease of access to sources is open to question.
As someone with experience in both legislative and fiscal matters in Washington, I found the level of detail excruciating and am amazed that I actually plowed through it all, albeit not always with full attention. Now I realize that what can seem fascinating if you're on the inside is only tedious and frustrating to those in a more real world. The constant barrage of proposals for multi-billions and trillions of expenditure cuts, along with the [to me] incomprehensible resistance to including revenue increases and even more to allowing the debt ceiling increase, left me dazed and groping for some semblance of what all this means in the real world.
I'll end with two observations: The first is one I have often felt, which is fury at George W. Bush and those who went along with him in Congress for throwing away in a nano-second the hard-won surplus of the Clinton years in favor of an irresponsible insistence on both guns and butter, huge tax cuts and enormous increases in military/security spending. The second is a new one. Previously I had felt some regret that many of Bob Woodward's books are available only in abridged versions from Audible. Now I realize that this is a blessing. If only this one had been abridged, it might have been bearable.
I had enjoyed all of the earlier books in this series but hadn't read a new one in a while, so I happily picked up a couple in the last sale. What a treat it was to return to the dry humor and entertaining life of sporadic defense lawyer Andy Carpenter, combined with genuinely interesting insights into court case development and trial techniques. It's refreshing to find a mystery story that doesn't take itself too seriously or dwell at length on blood and gore. One feature I particularly like is that the relationships with other parties involved in the case, including policemen, prosecutors, even deep down Judge "Hatchet", are cordial and understanding, a nice change from the "loner in opposition to all forces in authority" model that dominates much of this literature. Grover Gardner does a perfect job of portraying Andy Carpenter and his observations of himself and the personalities and circumstances revolving around him -- and Gardner seems to enjoy every minute of it. Plus I'm not in essence a dog lover, but it's easy to appreciate the dogs that, err..., "people" this series!
Good follow-up to Rogue Island. Paints a wryly amusing picture of the seamy side of our smallest state, and also of the sad state of our newspaper industry. Engaging and original characters; reasonably engrossing plot. Narrator does an excellent job with local accents which greatly enhances the experience. For those interested in a good listen and an intriguing view of Rhode Island, perhaps especially those who attended an occasionally-maligned "elitist" university there, this book is a great find.
From the description, I thought I would like this book, but I found it irritating and unrealistic. In particular, I found the main character unsympathetic -- self-absorbed, self-destructive and uncommunicative. I got very tired at his answering virtually every direct question or comment with a shrug and being rude to people who were trying to be helpful. Perhaps his single-minded pursuit of his "art" and of the somewhat lame "mystery" was supposed to make him seem noble, but it came to grate on me, especially since it led him to neglect his child and didn't exactly strengthen his custody argument. Also, the rain was a "damper"!
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