.. but so what! I have now completed Trollope's entire Barchester/Barseter series (6 novels) and enjoyed them all. "Doctor Thorne" presents an interesting (and familiar to Trollope fans) story of class vs. wealth and character vs. class. The series chronicles the lives of persons in rural and small towns identified largely by ecclesiastical boundaries in mid-19th century England as it transitioned from the dominance of landed gentry to the rise of wealth and power of industrialists. If you like wholesome stories about the triumph of romance over class and cultural barriers, I highly recommend this series! The narrator, Timothy West, is superb! On to The Pallisers for me!
I accidentally stumbled on Anthony Trollope novels about 3 months ago, and since then have dusted through 11.5 Trollope novels! I am now in the middle of the last book in the Palliser series, of which Phineas Redux is book 4. "Redux" is the second book featuring the character of Phineas Finn (the first is the second book in the series by that name), a young, impassioned, endearing Irishman who comes to London to make his mark in Parliament -- and among the social elite. By time we meet Phineas again in this book, we've been charmed by the adventures of young Phineas, and we meet him again as a more mature man resuming his public life after experiencing some pitfalls of life. This period in Phineas' life is a bit more serious than in the earlier book, giving him even more appeal -- like following a boy who has become a man. Some portions of the book were deeply moving as Phineas faces hardships of a more serious nature than most of Trollope's storylines, and Phineas is a character capable of taking us to this depth. Of course in addition to Phineas we continue to follow the lead characters of the Palliser series, Plantagenet Palliser and his wife, Glencora. A host of others who add to the drama and fun! These books are light, engaging, romantic - a nice fictional "snapshot" of British society and politics in the mid-19th century. Phineas is a standout character among many -- worthy of two books! If you like books of this period and theme, you'll love Phineas and entire the Palliser series, as I have!
You won't be disappointed by Framley Parsonage. I found it a bit slower start than other stories in the Barchester/Barseter series (I have read all 6), but eventually it picks up and presents the familiar Trollope chronicle of behind the scene clashes in ecclesiastical societies, including the clash of piety vs. prosperity among clerics. It also continues Trollope's theme of the triumph of true love over class. Trollope's books give a good fictional account of the breakdown in the British class structure even as that structure extended to the Church of England. I have enjoyed them all! Timothy West truly adds to the pleasure of the novel making the audio experience much richer than the printed books (which I have also read). He is perfect for Trollope's novels!
I was somewhat disappointed that this book turned into more of a story of chaste eroticism than historical fiction. But it was engaging nonetheless.
I agree with others that the formatting is very awkward in this rendition. The reading performances are mostly very good, and there are minimal distracting background sounds and music. (If you just want a pure Bible reading with no "dramatic" presentation, this is not the book for you. Still, this version does a nice job of not overly dramatizing.) The big critique of this version is that the formatting makes it virtually impossible to make content selection. It downloads in 17 parts, and you have no idea how the 66 books of the Bible are distributed among these parts. I had to bump around through several parts to try to find where the Old Testament ends and the New Testament begins. Within each part, the "chapters" breakdown into the actual chapters of each book of the Bible, hence countless chapters per part. If you click on a particular chapter, you have no idea what book you are in (unless you happen to luck upon the start of a new book, which is announced at the beginning of the chapter). Having read (and listened to) the Bible several times, I can more or less figure out what book I'm in, but anyone who hasn't spent a LOT of time in the Bible would be completely lost unless listening "cover to cover." Finally, there is awkward and excessive silence between each of the many chapters, making the flow quite disjointed. These are all unfortunate oversights and/or flaws, since this book would be pretty amazing were it more user-friendly (hence my overall rating of 4 despite these serious formatting problems).
Still, it is the Bible, and for those like me who enjoy it in almost any form, it is worth the download, since it is a somewhat more "entertaining" presentation.
If you like the spy genre, and particularly stories about the origins of the CIA, this is worth the long read. For its scope and comprehensiveness, it gets an overall "4." Initially I wasn't very impressed by the reader, but over 40 hours you get used to it, and Brick has a few particularly good characterizations. But in the end the story falls somewhat short of its very high aspiration. Littell does a commendable job of trying to show the guts, glory and dysfunction deeply woven into the CIA. He does a good job of weaving known events with mostly credible fiction, though in the end I think he gets a little lost in his own story and struggles to bring the yarn to an end.
I was not previously familiar with this story but became intrigued by the Audible description and took a chance. It was well worth it. An engaging, anthropomorphic metaphor for much of the human communal experience. I found it particularly interesting in light of current issues. I won't say more at risk of giving too much away, but highly recommended -- it can be enjoyed by young children (5 and up) at the simplest level, and inspire thoughtful consideration of broader meanings in older youth and adults. Nicely done narration as well.
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