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whynot?

Maui | Member Since 2004

128
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 29 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 9 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
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  • The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Barbara W. Tuchman
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    Overall
    (318)
    Performance
    (148)
    Story
    (147)

    The fateful quarter-century leading up to World War I was a time when the world of privilege still existed in Olympian luxury and the world of protest was heaving in its pain, its power, and its hate. The age was the climax of a century of the most accelerated rate of change in history, a cataclysmic shaping of destiny.

    Doug says: "Fascinating history"
    "Liked the book, liked the narrator"
    Overall

    I, too, started with "A Distant Mirror," which I've read in print twice (20 years apart), and I've always liked Tuchman's ability to use a few singular characters to illustrate the broad strokes of an era. Having listened to several Henry James, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, et al, novels recently, I realized I didn't really have a comprehensive view of late 19th century/pre-WWI political and social history, and I was pleased to find Tuchman had written about the era. Like Simon Winchester, she uses gem-quality details to bring both place and time to life.

    I enjoyed the narration very much, but this is clearly a very subjective matter. I have listened to several books (coincidentally) narrated by May, and I really like her tone, her accent(s), her voicings, and her pace. I learned early on in my Audible membership to listen to a sample before downloading, and I am still grateful for classics that offer several narrator options.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Forsyte Saga

    • UNABRIDGED (42 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By John Galsworthy
    • Narrated By Fred Williams
    Overall
    (278)
    Performance
    (94)
    Story
    (91)

    The three novels that make up The Forsyte Saga chronicle the ebbing social power of the commercial upper-middle class Forsyte family through three generations, beginning in Victorian London during the 1880s and ending in the early 1920s. Galsworthy's masterly narrative examines not only their fortunes but also the wider developments within society, particularly the changing position of women.

    Kay in DC says: "A delight"
    "The Narrator Has a Curious Effect"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Forsyte Saga the most enjoyable?

    The story is labyrinthine, lots of characters over a long period of time, each with his or her own eccentricities. While some of the subject matter is very politically incorrect today, it is an interesting chronicle of social and economic changes at the end of the Victorian and beginning of the Edwardian eras. The transition from a largely rural, farming country to a more urban investment-based middle-class also drives the early story, complete with successful Forsytes buying country homes later.


    What other book might you compare The Forsyte Saga to and why?

    The book reminded me a bit of "Middlemarch," with its gentry versus people of commerce themes and its focus on marital strife. There were also elements that echoed some of Trollope's themes (especially his Barsetshire Chronicles and Paliser novels) regarding proper behavior and the role of money in a changing society.


    What does Fred Williams bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator seems really dull at first, almost mechanical and droning, but after a while, his subtle intonation really underscores Galsworthy's droll characterizations and wicked satirical wit.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Unlikely Spy

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Daniel Silva
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (580)
    Performance
    (260)
    Story
    (263)

    "In wartime," Winston Churchill wrote, "truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." For Britain's counterintelligence operations, this meant finding the unlikeliest agents imaginable - including a history professor named Alfred Vicary.

    Brian says: "Riveting"
    "Not Typical. Or That Good."
    Overall

    Sorry, but this is just not his best. Must've bought this one on sale after having listened (or read in print) some of his others. Let's say it was his first, and therefore he was young and inexperienced (and randy), but WAY too much focus on the physical and not enough on the plot. His other (Gabriel Allon) books are much more developed and better written. Not much to recommend this one: if you like WWII there are much better books, and if you like Daniel Silva, well, that TOO.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Divine Comedy

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Dante Alighieri
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    Overall
    (210)
    Performance
    (103)
    Story
    (106)

    One of the greatest works in literature, Dante's story-poem is an allegory that represents mankind as it exposes itself, by its merits or demerits, to the rewards or the punishments of justice. A single listen will reveal Dante's visual imagination and uncanny power to make the spiritual visible.

    whynot? says: "Almost Divine"
    "Almost Divine"
    Overall

    This is an excellent recording that rectifies most of the negatives in the reviews of the other options. It's a great introduction to Dante that will either satisfy your curiosity about "The Divine Comedy" or lead you to more in-depth study afterward.

    Having sought a good recording of "The Divine Comedy" for some time, this recent release was welcome. Much of what one likes or dislikes about recordings of classic verse depends on the translation, the narrator, and other variables. This one worked well for me in that I enjoy the narrator (and have bought other recordings because I like his voice), that it is unabridged, and that the translation is pleasing to listen to (although it is prose and does not mimic the original's terza rima).

    Each cantica is preceded by an author's note about its structure; each canto has a brief narrative overview. This makes it an excellent choice for first-time readers and/or people who want to read it without devoting a great deal of study to the process. That said, many people would say that "The Divine Comedy" requires a great deal of study,and that a footnoted, print edition is requisite. (I think not, depending upon one's interest, but some of the structure notes -- and biographical references -- would be more accessible in print.) It is perfectly listenable and one need not take a course to grasp the main points and see how it influenced later literature.

    My only complaint -- and this is because I listen to several classics over and over -- is that there is no convenient way to listen to it from start to finish without the cantica and canto introductions. After one understands the processions, listening to just the verse would be a nice option.

    71 of 74 people found this review helpful
  • The Great Age of Discovery, Volume 1: Columbus, Magellan, and the Early Explorations

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Paul Herrmann
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (173)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (56)

    In the space of 400 years, Western man methodically set out to explore and map the entire earth. During some of the most dangerous expeditions ever mounted, an extraordinary group of determined men forced passages through vast oceans, dark jungles, and withering deserts. Never has their like been seen since. What drove these soldiers, sailors, and civilians to leave the comforts of civilized life and face the horrors of shipwreck, starvation, cannibals, and disease?

    Howard says: "Discover this Book"
    "Eerily Oudated, but Really Good!"
    Overall

    I have to agree with both the people who enjoyed this book AND those who noticed that all was not as it seemed. Sadly, if you check the print version of the book, you will note that it was published in 1974. Alas, the good intentions! Every country in Africa should be a first-world econonmic power by now, should you cling to the narrator's zeal for power plants and democracy.

    It IS a great listen, though, as long as you are well-informed and have kept up with world history SINCE the Nixon administration. Otherwise, you will be world-class confused.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Middlesex

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Eugenides
    • Narrated By Kristoffer Tabori
    Overall
    (6086)
    Performance
    (2263)
    Story
    (2287)

    In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry-blonde classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them - along with Callie's failure to develop physically - leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.

    Christopher Allen walker says: "Great Pulitzer Winning novel!"
    "Maybe I'm Jaded"
    Overall

    And maybe this is damning with faint praise, but I thought this was a good book, not a great book. I would offer five stars only to a classic, and I think "Middlesex" unlikely to become one. The scope of the book was amazing, the characters well developed, and the story lines neatly tied up. It is a very handsome package, but not exactly a great gift.

    For a book of its length, the listener should love the narrator. I found this one good at interpreting the characters and giving them distinctive voices, but occasionally over-the-top in his delivery -- sometimes even grating. I felt in some chapters that I was being harrangued -- not led -- through the narrative.

    Still it is a gratifying glimpse into several subcultures and multiple time periods. It is well worth listening to, but hard to compare to Virginia Woolf's "Orlando" (as many do) except in the most literal aspects of the main character's sexuality. Whether this is literary fiction or just good best seller writing, I do not know.

    22 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • The Master

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Colm Toibin
    • Narrated By Geoffrey Howard
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (188)
    Performance
    (52)
    Story
    (51)

    In The Master, his brilliant and profoundly moving fifth novel, Colm Toibin tells the story of Henry James, a famous novelist born into one of America's intellectual first families two decades before the Civil War. James left his country to live in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London among privileged artists and writers.

    Kathy says: "Perfect"
    "A Pleasure from Start to Finish"
    Overall

    "The Master" is one of the best novels I've ever listened to. Having read the reviews, I was hesitant to hear (rather than read) the book. It is a perfect audiobook though, with an easy pace and a talented reader. Toibin's grasp of the creative mind, of the historical era and manners, and of the insights of an expat New Englander are spot on. It's not a juicy tell-all faux-bio for fans of Kitty Kelley's style, but an empathetic imagining of "being Henry James." Reasonable speculation is made based on family acquaintances and events of the time. The language is rich yet restrained to befit the subject. Characterization is subtle, bolstered by the author's tremendous insight and sympathy. The reader feels suspended in time, taken to a place where James's painstakingly private life can be observed without intruding on decorum. Elegant and worthwhile if you love literary fiction and the life of the mind.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • The Great Age of Discovery, Volume 2: Captain Cook and the Scientific Explorations

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Paul Herrmann
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (104)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (35)

    As the 18th century approached its midpoint, commercial and military competition between the European states became fierce. And whoever obtained accurate information about distant lands would hold an advantage. Were there continental landmasses in the Pacific? Was there a Northwest Passage to Japan and China? What lay in the interior of Africa? Was it possible to cross the Sahara? Where did the rivers Nile and Congo originate?

    Aaron says: "Entertaining and moving"
    "Quaint"
    Overall

    Both Volume 1 and 2 make for interesting listening, but I agree with the other reviewers that the book's original publication date of 1958 should have been disclosed. In addition to the antiquated notions on the origins of Polynesian culture, the book's near-giddy tone about the "modernization" of Africa rings particularly bizarre after decades of AIDS and the ravages of ethnic cleansing. I thought the narration, aside from the malaprops, was quite tolerable (if a little chuffy). The chronological skipping around sometimes caught me off guard, but overall, I enjoyed both volumes.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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