Emma Messenger is fantastic here! I have always loved this novel, and have read it many times, but I don't think I've ever enjoyed it as much as I did during this listen. One of my pet peeves with narrators of classics is when they read them woodenly, stumble over the language, or read as if they are reciting the phone book. Emma Messenger breathed such life into her narration that it felt like Jane herself was speaking to me.
I found her interpretations of characters ideal, especially Jane and Mr. Rochester. She really conveyed the passion and frustration between them. She managed to give each character a unique voice without sounding as if she were straining her own.
I plan to download other books narrated by Emma Messenger. I cannot express enough how truly enjoyable her interpretation of this novel is!
Also, with the classics I love, I tend to download different version of the same story (since they are often less than the cost of a sandwich here on Audible!) to have a different interpretation or version of the same novel. I have no intention of downloading another version on Jane Eyre, though, since this is perfection.
Potential spoiler alert...I do not plot summarize or give away specifics, but my reactions to the book in general might be enough of a hint to spoil the experience for some.
I am a huge fan of Louise Penny, and this book does not disappoint me.
This one made me particularly sad…or hit me especially hard…or was simply harder to take than the others. It’s been several days since I finished, and I have yet to download the next or move onto a different book because I’m still trapped inside this story. Yes, I am late to this series, so I have the luxury of reading several back-to-back, not waiting with bated breath for new releases…yet.
It differs from the others because it hits closer to home with the characters. Someone I already care about is in the hot seat here. It felt like finding out someone I love has a deeply disturbed side. It was a swift kick in the stomach once the story finally got to the finger-pointing moment. I kept thinking, wait, this can’t be, this is a dream sequence a la bad television, and so on.
However, this is not a negative reaction. The problem I often find with series is that the main core of characters tends to escape unscathed. It’s not remotely realistic. I mean, come on. In a tiny place like Three Pines, what’s the likelihood that every single significant character will be blameless when a murder happens just about every season? The author addresses that in this book for sure.
I can see why some might think this book is too much of a departure for the series. I disagree entirely, though. I think this is the author stepping up her game and pushing the boundaries in her series. It is definitely different, from the crime to the culprit, and everything in between. This book probably lacks the most action, yet it has a lot more introspection. I enjoyed that very much.
And finally, the visceral reaction I’m having is a clear indication that this book made an impact on me. I read (and listen to) a lot, and it is not often I have this type of reaction. I highly recommend it, especially for people reading the series in order.
Ralph Cosham is perfection as usual. He is one of my favorite narrators, and he brings Three Pines to life.
I loved getting to know Cassie Maddox from her own perspective. I already had a sense of her because she was a prominent part of In The Woods, the first Dublin Murder Squad book. I highly recommend downloading that first, since Cassie’s background information and relationship status is a continuation of what happened there.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the improbable doppelgänger aspect did not hinder it in the least. I think what made that vital plot point less of a stumbling block was that the author does not try to explain how it happened. There’s no shared parentage or ancestry, no twin separation at birth, or anything like that. There’s a potential regional connection, but that gets pretty much shut down as well. Once I accepted that the similarity simply existed and the author was not going to waste time explaining it into the ground, it stopped mattering.
Do not be worried that a plot centered on a motley crew of enigmatic college students will resemble a CW or Fox teenage TV show. Nothing could be farther from the reality here. Each character is finely drawn and original. The dialogue is quippy, natural, intelligent, and focused. Each person is believable and not at all a stereotype. Truly, the author did not take shortcuts when developing these characters.
As I mentioned in my In The Woods review, this series departs from typical crime drama. Like In the Woods, The Likeness is a psychological thriller more than a traditional who-done-it. Figuring out who perpetrated the crime is secondary to becoming intimately involved in the psychology of the tightly-knit group of characters. Understanding the motive behind the crime is more important than concealing who committed it. The fact that this is an undercover op for Cassie is much more a focus than if this were Cassie acting solely as a murder detective. That is important to recognize, since yet again, the resolution of the investigation is not nearly as complete and air tight as you might expect from the crime genre in general. I like this. It is refreshing, and much more realistic.
Tana French is truly a master in regards to her characters. I’ve read piles upon piles of books, the serious, down-to-the-grit-and-grime-of-humanity types. Not one comes close to her character development, in my opinion. Cassie Maddox is interesting, exciting, unpredictable, unexplainable, hard-headed, confusing (could I squeeze any more adjectives in there?), yet still very likeable. Her other characters are just as flushed-out and well-rounded. Everyone is multi-dimensional, possessing a realistic mix of personal ethics, irrational behavior, personal issues, goals, desires, and stress that results in a very realistic portrayal of people. There are no purely good characters, which I find refreshing. Cowboy antics are met with real consequences, unlike in most crime novels where maverick behavior is acceptable because the ends tend to justify the means. Not so for the Dublin Murder Squad.
Heather O’Neill is the ideal narrator. She is perfection as Cassie. I would love to hear more of her readings. The minute she started narrating, she was Cassie. I did not have to adjust to her at all.
With each new book, Tana French cements her place as my favorite author. The Likeness is no exception. It is truly masterful and haunting, and I cannot wait for the next book. I highly recommend this book.
I feel compelled to write a review, despite the fact that the novel is several years old. I really want more people to experience this author, so here we go!
I won't give a plot synopsis since many other reviewers have. Instead, I'll focus on why I enjoyed this book. One caveat: I have only recently become an avid suspense/thriller/mystery reader. I'm relatively new to the genre, and so far I have yet to find another author in this genre that keeps me hooked past the first few books. So, maybe this is a major reason why the whole "lack of formula following" or "deviating from traditional formats" did not phase me at all. In fact, it was a welcome change.
It's true what they've been saying. The plot is most certainly secondary to character development, setting the scene, and adhering to a realistic story. I swear, I honestly believed this story could have happened. Unlike other books in the genre that end spectacularly well for the protagonist and bring the antagonist to full justice in a blazing final moment of intense action, this book simply ended with an almost anticlimactic finale. Some characters had to pay for their actions, and good did not necessarily triumph over evil. An important issue is left unresolved, which probably should have gotten me all worked up, but surprisingly it did not. I loved the way it wrapped up. I found it satisfying. I was so invested in the characters and the Dublin Murder Squad, which were the true focus of the novel.
Tana French is a master at her craft. She is my favorite author. That feels bizarre to write, since I am a voracious reader and have never been able to say with certainty that any one author is my favorite (I'm much more of the list of favorites by genre types). Her writing is extraordinary. It is vidid, thorough, descriptive, and slow-paced. I mean that in a positive way. I never felt she was hurrying through anything in order to get to something more important. Every sentence was clearly very important to her. Her dialogue was the most authentic I've ever encountered in any book. Yes, there is language and sexual references and all that. However, it did not seem sensationalized to me, or worse, inserted for no good reason other than to make a character seem more hard-core. One especially suspenseful tool she uses is to write as if Rob were telling you the story after the fact. There is a lot of foreboding resulting from Rob peppering his narration with hints along the lines of "She was trying to tell me something important," and "I should have known..." and "This was an important..." And, as the listener, I could not figure out why a seemingly innocuous moment was so vital until the conclusion.
Steven Crossley was a perfect choice as the narrator. I thought he nailed the persona of Rob Ryan. He has a lovely, rich, expressive voice. It did take me a few moments to get used to the cadence of his voice, especially when reading female characters. That is in no way a criticism, however, just an observation. Sometimes a narrator grabs me right away and I fall right into the book. Sometimes, it takes me a little longer. He's in the latter category.His narration, though, is definitely a success in my opinion.
If you have passed over the book in the past, or are on the fence about it, and it's in your typical genre choice, I recommend downloading this book right now.
I enjoyed this book decently enough to finish it, without deciding to forget the whole thing and try a different narrator. I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to the full samples given before deciding on a work with multiple narrator options. I've learned my lesson. Jill Masters is not my favorite, but she is far from the worst. Victoria McGee is by far my least favorite Austen narrators, and I couldn't even get halfway through her version of Sense and Sensibility. Lindsay Duncan is my absolute favorite, and I wish she would do all of Austen's works. In Jill Masters' defense, her style simply did not jive with my interpretation of the novel, and her inflections and emphasis did not land as I would have liked. However, she read it well and was consistent. Like many reviewers have also pointed out, I'll stress that the sound quality of this recording is not very good. The volume level fluctuates, there are some awkward pauses, and the sound quality in general is lacking. In short: not the best, but not the worst.
This is much, much better than the same book narrated by Victoria McGee. If you're debating between a couple versions, you can't go wrong with this one. I actually listened part-way to the other version, couldn't take another second of the robotic narrator, and switched to this one. Marion Castle is very expressive and interesting. She has a nice cadence to her voice, which suits the story. The only reason I'm not giving her 5 stars as a narrator is because so far, no one can outshine Lindsay Duncan as a narrator for Austen. If you haven't heard Duncan's version of Pride and Prejudice, I highly recommend it, too. However, Marion Castle is very good, and I would happily download other books she narrates in the future. I've learned my lesson with my Sense and Sensibility experience. The narrator really can make or break the story, and I'll be sure to pay more attention to the samples before downloading in future.
I wish I had read the previous reviewer's comments before purchasing. This is hands down the worse book I've gotten on Audible so far. The narrator is terrible! I'm a few hours in, and I'm not even going to finish it. I'm ordering the same book with a different narrator. This narrator sounds robotic, bored, and tired. She sounds like an alien attempting to fit in with earthlings by tackling classic lit. It's truly terrible. There are gaps between some sentences and at the end of each chapter that yawn for so long that I routinely check to make sure the Audible AP on my phone didn't close without warning. There is very little distinction in her tone between characters, if any, and often the same character speaks with a different tone within the same paragraph. It's very confusing--and I've read the book several times on my own, so it's not the subject matter that's causing my issues. Trust me, the under $3 price tag does not make this more tolerable.
With this narration, nothing at all!
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