Moss Beach, CA, United States | Member Since 2009
This is a very fine book, a sort of Mr. Chips goes to Hell, or to the Fun House. Fascinating characters, each distinct, each interacting with the others. The book is told from two perspectives, one narrated by a young person, the other old. The only problem I had was that at first I assumed the youthful narrator was a flashback and that the narrators were one-and-the-same person, which is not the case. There would have been no confusion if that had been understood from the beginning. Nonetheless, this book takes a twist on manners, appearances and the clever machinations of a diabolical mind. Very fine writing.
I love getting two books in one as the story jumps from the present to the past and back. The historical story is richer for its details, as well as its more diverse characters, but both stories were satisfying. As with all the best writers, Kearsley's prose seems effortless. She's a master of setting mood through description, and her characters are well delineated. The only fault I can find in this one is that all of the young males are stock Romance characters (tall, well-muscled, enigmatic, masterful and never crude). That may keep the ladies coming back for more. As for me, I'll try anything Miss Kearsley puts her hand to, because the power of her writing overcomes any cookie-cutter characters that may insinuate themselves into her stories.
I probably would have enjoyed this better in print, but the audible offering is still worth the credit because the story is so strong. I agree with all of the comments regarding Barbara Rosenblat's narration. Her voice is simply too old for the part. That aside, I was in awe of Susanna Kearsley's evocative writing and her ability to weave a complex tale. Having read The Rose Garden and The Winter Sea, I assumed I'd be encountering a Romance novel with some supernatural or Time Travel angle. Instead, this is like a finely tuned, more literary version of an Agatha Christie tale, where disparate characters are brought together and we slowly learn their back stories and how they all relate. I wasn't aware that this was to be a Mystery. It was obvious that there would be a bit of the romance here, but it was subtly drawn out, and the mystery only slowly revealed. In the beginning the reader is simply getting to know the characters, and my hat's off to Ms. Kearsley for such a finely delineated cast of characters. Each one is distinct and plays his or her part in the drama/mystery/romance. When you finally realize that there is a mystery to be solved, you come to realize that virtually every previous scene was filled with clues that are relevant to the denouement. A wonderful book that will stay with me for a long while.
I debated about the headline, as this is a beautifully written book. But I kept thinking that the same story in other hands (Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett come to mind) might have lifted it to another level. Nonetheless, it's totally worth your time. Ms. Joy Fowler is articulate, her characters are sufficiently compelling and the plot is adept at hanging the carrot just enough out of reach to keep me turning the pages (does that make me an ass?) Suffice it to say that It was good enough that I'm interested in trying some of her other books. Orlagh Cassidy's narration was unobtrusive and easy on the ears.
Another reviewer complained that "the plot of 'Revival' serves as a vehicle for Mr. King to spout off about drug addiction, aging, the existence of God, and guitar playing." All I can say is "Hallelujah!" Those are the very things that make this book so satisfying. King knows what he's talking about when he writes of addiction, aging and guitar playing (and any thinking adult will have to agree with the book's "terrible sermon"), which gives the narrator depth and inner demons and gives us reason to root for him. Other reviewers didn't think the story was scary enough, and while certain descriptions may be a bit formulaic, the very concept scared the pants off me and has left me with an uneasy feeling when looking into the abyss, which I guess can be viewed as a positive in the horror genre. The tone of the whole book, and the elegiac reflection of the coda, are reminiscent of Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness." King is so good, he makes it look effortless.
I hope narrator David Morse gets to do future King books. His tone and pacing are just right and he's good at differentiating between the characters.
I didn't realize until I'd finished it that the book was written 60 years ago and that the author was famous for her children's book 101 Dalmatians. I had hoped that this was from a contemporary author and that there would be more books in the same vein. Though others have remarked on the similarity with jane Austin, I felt the tone and ability to set mood was far more reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier. The prose is beautifully restrained, the narrator is superb, the characters are full and delineated, and the world Dodie Smith recreates here (of English country life in the 1930s) is vividly drawn. Just my cup of tea.
The Gilded Age is one of the few Twain works I hadn't read, and I was pleasantly surprised. The American penchant for get-rich-quick schemes, and the corruption and hypocrisy of Washington politicians was already in full-force 150 years ago! The southern dialect of Senator Dilworthy is vintage Twain. Great satire, though the second half, which involves a murder trial, drags on a bit too long. It's all the more ironic that Twain followed the example of his characters who dream of quick riches, only to be bankrupted by their greed. Excellent narration by Bronson Pinchot.
I give Elizabeth Wein high marks for writing a compelling story, and the narrators are superb, but it's hard to give credence to the conceit of a confession written in literary style. There is another incredibly illogical action that I can't divulge without spoiling the book for other readers. But it makes no sense and that absolutely ruined the book for me.
First, let me preface this by saying I'm a "senior citizen," so you know where I'm coming from. I loved his book, as it rather accurately depicted my children's lives as boomerang kids approaching thirty. Moreover, it had a wonderful lead up, presented all the expected complications in unexpected ways, and made the resolution a little more complex than I anticipated. In other words, it was perfectly paced, giving us sympathetic characters, and leaving us satisfied. I read a lot of fiction, from historical to literary. If I had to characterize it, I'd say this is a masterfully presented Romance that makes us care about the characters and leaves us with a smile on our faces. Well done.
In a blending of Forest Gump meets Baron Munchausen meets Lao Tzu, mild mannered and apolitical Allan Karlsson manages to have an impact on his times, even if no one knows his name. Whether having exceptionally bad luck and hardship, or experiencing the most providential escapes, through it all he accepts whatever comes his way because, as his father pointed out, "whatever will be will be." Fatalistic acceptance forms the core of his character as he goes from one adventure to the next through a very long and very eventful life. Loads of fun.
This series is notable for its gentle tone, its sympathetic characters, the methodical unraveling of the core mystery, and topical themes. Earlier novels in the series have addressed xenophobia, illegal immigration, human trafficking, genetically modified crops, real estate development, truffle fraud, fois gras, PETA and the ETA. Resistance Man incorporates themes of prejudice against homosexuals, abortion, the longing for family and government corruption. And as always, there are the ever present family feuds, politics, testing of loyalties, and the struggle to reconcile legal, pragmatic and moral solutions. The only frustration is that we'll have to wait another year for the next installment.
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