The story you remember from your younger years is even more compelling and moving now.
Simon Vance brings to life the minor characters with such verve. Characters like Miss Pross whom I had skimmed over when I was a younger reader filled the book's landscape with so much powerful life. And I had such a palpable sense of Sidney Carton as a man intent on redeeming himself in a way that felt so right and true.
Reading the book on my iPad while listening to Simon Vance read on my commute to work was a powerful and fantastic experience.
Probably among the top two or three. It does all that I ask of audiobooks. It permits me to read long books that I don't have time to read otherwise; keeps me intellectually engaged; and provides a narrator whose grasp of the material is reflected in the nuanced way in which he or she reads.
Robert Moses literally shaped New York City's 20th and 21st century destiny. Robert Caro pieces together the story of how and why Robert Moses did so to weave a universal story of power and how it is acquired and maintained, a personal story of a man of greatness and severe deficiencies, and an essential study of urban planning and government, and their ways, means, and impacts.
Robertson Dean's straightforward, intelligent, heartfelt, measured performance was incredible. He seemed to fully understand all that he was reading -- familiar with all the names and ideas found there -- and I wondered how many times he had read the text before the performance. His pacing was also perfect -- not too fast, not too slow.
It made me furious. I hadn't realized that the lack of amenities -- park areas, playground areas -- in Harlem and other principally black neighborhoods was not the result of benign neglect but of active racism. Having grown up there and now being a mother myself, I now see that the teenaged boys who lived in cramped, unpleasant apartments had no other recourse than to hang out in the streets and expose themselves to bad influences and predators -- the odds were so stacked against them from that aspect of their existence alone. I also hadn't realized to what extent the funds that might have improved schools and hospitals -- facilities that were crumbling in the 1950s through 1970s -- were channeled instead to the highways and bridges that Moses masterminded. And I was inspired by those who successfully -- and unsuccessfully -- fought against Moses' incursions into thriving neighborhoods, and fascinated to see how Moses' power eventually and suddenly crumbled.
I don't know if this would be as compelling to the reader who isn't able to visualize the places under scrutiny -- Randall's Island, Triboro Bridge, Jones Beach. But if you are familiar with New York and don't really understand how this city became the way it is now, you must listen to this book. The story of Robert Moses is -- not at all metaphorically but in the most concrete sense -- the story of New York, the city and the state.
Maisie appears to be the pawn of her feckless, self-involved parents; and then the adored darling of her subsequent stepparents. The story is told more or less from Maisie's point of view. We only know as much as she does -- no, let's take that back. She might know far more than we realize she knows. Who is playing who in this bitter game?
It's a psychological study, alive to every nuance of expression and unstated communication, but Maisie, as all humans do, remains a mystery. I'm sure some perfect comparisons will spring to mind as soon as I finish this review. But it's safe to say that if you found Turn of the Screw unsatisfying, you will not like this either. James hands you nothing but complexity and ambiguity. In other words: life.
The very last scene. It is not a spoiler to say that it is a play on the title of the book.
I returned to this book after seeing the updated movie version of the book with Julianne Moore and Steven Coogan as the irresponsible, self-involved parents. But in the film, Maisie is played by a darling girl whose sweetness is touching and beautiful. Here, Maisie is far more complex.
Maureen O'Brien does an amazing job capturing the accents (with all the class connotations) as well as the emotions of the characters, which requires great insight into both human nature and literature as well as great acting skills. I will search out more books read by her.
The characters brought completely to life by both Donna Tartt's writing and David Pittu's acting (much more than narration). I came to know Andy so well through David Pittu's realization of him. Really special experience. I found myself missing Andy so much the other day.
Boris because I so related to his feral ability to devour life as it came. (Friends and families would laugh, I know -- and yet that's the power of a great novel, right? A sedate middle-aged bourgeois lady thinks that Boris is her!)
No, I was so sorry to see he has mainly read middle school novels -- not even young adult ones! I cannot wait to hear him read some other
Kept me riveted most of the time. And I didn't even love Theo Decker, the narrator. But loved the philosophical turns the novel took -- probably more than I loved the "we are suddenly in a European thriller/mystery" turns. And I did love all the antiques world details, too. So many different worlds brought completely to life. Well done, Donna Tartt!
Expressed so much about the power of art for me. Just when the novel seemed to veer into the predictable or the corny, it swerves away and stays true.
The fact that Graham Nash was not a rock-and-roll genius made this book all the better! Nash's story of a working-class kid from the Manchester slums who found success with The Hollies and mega-success with Crosby Stills Nash and Young is so interesting because he wasn't and isn't a genius. What Graham Nash has always been is curious, appreciative of talent, embracing life's opportunities, positive-minded, forward looking. Every time a new opportunity presents itself, Graham Nash says, "That's interesting, that's cool, let me try that!" and then works hard once he's in the situation.
You really feel he's telling us his story without mediation. It's very intimate and friendly and draws you in. That North England/West Coast accent is disarming, to say the least!
Yes, to see Nash's evolution from an almost 19th century childhood in Manchester (no hot water, no indoor toilet) to discovery of rock-and-roll to the perfect timing of following The Beatles into rock-and-roll hero status ... it's a cultural history as well as a personal one.
The second half of the book was far less interesting to me -- as was the case with Keith Richards' book. All those tales of decadence in the 1970s and 1980s are tedious, sad, annoying. But they were part of the trajectory, I suppose!
I still don't like any of CSN's songs, and thought they were corny and mushy even when I was young! But Graham is like a favorite uncle: not cool, perhaps, but loving and really great to have over for a visit.
The window into Parisian society of the mid-1800s -- corrupt, licentious -- was what I found interesting and then was ultimately bored by.
I don't want to be unkind, but he should not have agreed to narrate this. The great narrators on Audible create voices for each of the characters that capture the essence of each "person" and help you find the wit and poignancy that you might not have noticed. This narration seemed stentorian and with so many female characters, he was very unsuited for representing the women. I don't know how other narrators manage to play women so incredibly well without seeming ridiculous or unmanly, but they do! This narrator, alas, seemed to march through the text with a heavy tread. He should probably stick to nonfiction.
Yes, revisit my other college favorites and make sure I don't reflexively say I love a book if I haven't read it in the past 20 years!
Perhaps Dickens was always meant to be read aloud. David Timson brought to life the idiosyncrasies of every character is such a distinct way -- a slew of different personalities to which he added so much insight and brought to such vivid life.
He created distinct voices for every character that captured their essential qualities and brought out essences of their personalities I had not been aware of earlier. His doll's dressmaker's voice was pure genius -- genius totally in step with Dickens's genius.
I would absolutely recommend this audiobook!
John Lanchester paints a portrait of 21st century life in London with sympathy, humor and dead-on accuracy. At first you think you're getting yourself into one more social satire -- aren't these materialistic wannabes so terrible (or at least so much worse than I am?). And Lanchester nails all those details perfectly with pitch-perfect nuance. But then the book opens up and gives us real human lives with humor, heart and insight.
The narrator is incredibly good!
He's funny, sympathetic, smart, and gives perfect intonation to both dialogue and narration. True, some of the African accents were not so great, but to be able to assume the accents and perspectives of so many people of multicultural London -- a Polish builder, Hungarian nanny, City bankers, artist with a fake East End accent (for his street cred), Pakistani shopkeepers male and female as well as their children ("Daddy!"), an 82-year-old middle class lady named Petunia -- constitutes a true tour de force.
I loved the Kamal family and begrudgingly admired and even loved Mrs. Kamal's determination. I think I would enjoy their argumentativeness, intelligence, and willingness to connect with one another.
I'll be looking out for more novels from John Lanchester and more books read by Colin Mace.
I loved the private eye, Cormoran Strike: tough, smart, full of heart, wry, cool, thoroughly flawed -- just great. Great interviewing and extracting of key info and using his imagination to understand when the pieces didn't fit and how to make connections. And although modern and realistic, the book wasn't gory -- phew!And the narration was truly superb.
After I finish writing this review, I'm hunting down Robert Glenister's other performances and will begin downloading immediately. He was fantastic -- so full of understanding and intelligence, empathy and wry humor. He made the experience of listening like being at the movies, bringing all the characters to life with fantastic timing. I'm too American to understand what Strike's accent is supposed to be! Maybe Robert Glenister will explain it to us; I know that mixture of strains is indicative of Strike's motley background, but I don't know how!
Strike's sympathy for his characters -- his moments of really understanding them was always moving. But I was touched by his inner responses to learning key info -- a kind of commitment that was so great. And I was touched by his heart going out to his own mother and Lula --the women who wouldn't or couldn't follow the rules.
Long may JK Rowling and Robert Glenister continue to bring to life the damaged, the great Cormoran Strike.
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