Moss Beach, CA, United States | Member Since 2008
I found it a fascinating character study of a class of people with enough money to travel and indulge their vices, yet without ambition or direction. It's also a beautifully written book. It would have been more aptly titled The Sound and the Fury, because it is truly "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The protagonist/first person narrator is clueless, and often states, "I don't know; perhaps you can make sense of it," or phrases to that effect. It's obvious he learned nothing from the experience he relates. Even so, it's worth reading for its precise prose and the fascinating way the author weaves in flashbacks. Written in 1915, in style Ford Madox Ford falls in a direct line between Henry James and Ernest Hemingway. Though more reminiscent of James in both subject matter and style, there are passages that will remind you of Hemingway's character descriptions in The Sun Also Rises. The least rewarding aspect of the story is the failure of the male characters to grow. They are unbelievably dull-witted, which can become tedious with repetition.
Ralph Cosham brings just the right tone of ennui and cluelessness that makes the first person narrator both a charming fool and an annoying idiot.
Mark Meadows is amazing, voicing more than a dozen characters so distinctly that it was like listening to an ensemble cast. His accents run the gamut from Scottish, to Irish, the various regional and class distinctions of England, Maori, Australian, Chinese, men and women, young and old. I only kept listening because of the narrator.
The book is Dickensian in scope and 19th Century in narrative style, which befits the subject, but it needed a good editor. The writing is very good, but the story jumps around in time to no purpose, and is numbingly repetitive. The last quarter of the book does little more than show in action what we already know from hearsay and narration, and leaves a few loose ends that would have given a more satisfying resolution.
Excuse the cliché, but Joe Hill didn't fall far from the proverbial tree. He writes action scenes that are so like his father's that you can barely tell the difference. His characters are also finely drawn, with believable foibles and failings. The pacing was excellent, especially given that he had to pause to show how Vic McQueen grew from "The Brat" of the first part, into the troubled adult of the second part. It was also refreshing to find "morbidly obese" Lou Carmody cast in the role of a fully realized, sympathetic hero. Of course all of that could easily have been ruined by a mediocre reading, but Kate Mulgrew is outstanding, giving each character an individual voice, as well as increasing the pace and urgency in her voice when the text called for it. If you're looking for horror, you can't do much better than this.
If you're looking for action, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a character study and a philosophical exploration of the characters' Parisian world, look no further. The writing is, at times, poetic, and always self-assured. If you like Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street series, or the Isabel Dalhousie series, you'll like The Elegance of the Hedgehog. The dramas are internal, small and mundane, but no less interesting for all their familiarity. The philosophical musings are sometimes so intricate that I had to rewind to listen a second time, and indeed I think this is a book that may be a better read than a listen. Nonetheless, Barbara Rosenblat's husky voice was perfect for 54-year-old Renee, and Cassandra Morris does a respectable job as 12-year-old Paloma.
This book could have benefitted from a better producer, who would have caught mispronunciations.
Yes, Verne has a way of making science seem miraculous.
No. I hate to criticize a narrator, as I could certainly do no better, but this book had more characters than Clark could easily differentiate. Also, he mispronounced a number of words, which immediately took me out of the narrative. For instance, instead of pronouncing "draught" as "draft," he says "drot."
The boy, Herbert, is extraneous.
There are probably better translations, and a narrator adept at many voices would make this a better listen.
The narrator has an uncanny knack for sounding both young and old, which plays into the structure and sense of the story.
The candor of the narrator, who tries his best to understand, even when he is clueless.
There really is only one character that Richard Morant has to perform, and that's Tony Webster. But he does an exemplary job of giving us Tony the adolescent and Tony the 60ish retiree trying to connect with his past.
When the past you thought you knew, differs from the past your friends knew, what is the truth?
The English language is a beautiful medium for the expression of thought, and Julian Barnes is eloquent. Like Ian McEwan, it doesn't really matter what Barnes is writing about; it's about the ability of the language to express the nuance and complexity of human interaction and introspection. Stellar.
Eventually (there are so many good books that I haven't already read), as the narrators lend authenticity to the tale.
Peter McCullough, because he is tormented by the amorality of the rest of his family, and who, though timid, finds the courage to pursue his own path.
There are several "memorable" scenes, but it would be hard to describe any of them as "favorite," as they are mostly of bloody and inhumane conflict.
Eli, because he's a survivor, and because he has a curious sense of loyalty. He learns to be ruthless the hard way, and at an early age, which effects all of his relationships thereafter. As readers, we try to understand his motivations by observing his actions, but it's unclear why he should take bloody revenge for one crime against him, and yet forgive another. He's complicated and dangerous.
The story and even the narration, as good as it is, take a backseat to the writing, which pulls you into Time and Place. Very reminiscent of McMurtry at his best.
I doubt I could have got through the print version. David Pittu gave such distinct voices to each character that it is hard to imagine the print version being any better.
Hobie. He's one of those philosophical characters you sometimes meet who take a long view of the world, even though they arrive there by focusing on a small part of it.
1. While initially engrossing, the constant and deep introspection becomes tedious by the half way point. It would be extremely easy to edit out a third of the book without losing a thing in the abridgment.
2. Nonetheless, it's fascinating that Donna Tartt can so perfectly capture the mindset of adolescent boys.
3. And since her seemingly intimate knowledge of heavy duty drugs can hardly have come entirely from the imagination, I'm surprised she lived to finish the book.
While Allan Corduner is very good, I expect the print would read as well.
The first time they steal apples.
The last chapter and epilogue are among the most powerful in literature.
Hemingway once said something like, "Any fool can begin a novel. It takes a novelist to get out of one." This novel was very good from the start, but there were moments in the middle where I felt it dragged a little. However, the ending is transcendent. It lifts this book to a whole other realm. Most impressive.
Yes, I'd recommend this book. It's classic King, with great set-up and foreshadowing and deftly drawn characters. Also, for those who are just trying out Stephen King for the first or second time, it's not too long.
While the ending was never really in doubt — since it's a first-person narration we know that the narrator survives — there was a bit of deus ex machina about the timing that detracted from the resolution.
He sounds perfectly natural and is good at delivering self-deprecating lines in which the narrator looks back at his younger self.
Read more books written in the first person, to see how differently each is handled. For instance, after Joyland I re-read The Great Gatsby. Both books are written in the first person, but one is more purposely prosaic, while the other is consciously poetic. Same point of view, very different results. Fascinating stuff.
Yes, it was like watching a good movie unfold in my head. The point of view kept shifting from major to minor characters, from protagonists to antagonists, which kept the story moving along at a quick clip.
It was fast paced, tightly plotted, and the romantic sub-plots and the intersection of main story and backstory kept me turning the pages. Of course, we know up front that the Nazis lost the war, and in a series such as this we know that the main character will survive. So the dramatic tension revolves around how she uses her wits and training to prevail, and in the survival or death of the peripheral characters. Maggie keeps getting deeper and more resourceful as the series goes on, and her relationships keep changing with changing circumstances. She stands as a reminder that most of the people who fought that war were in their 20's, and the reality of a world gone mad required and demanded that they mature quickly.
While I think Susan Duerden's performance was much improved over her last outing in Princess Elizabeth's Spy, her German accent here was heavy handed. A sentence might read, "This is the way we work," while her attempt to make it sound German was more like, "Ziss is ze vay ve verk." Such distortions aren't necessary, and were in fact a bit distracting.
I'm afraid I'm not up on young British actors and actresses, so I can't comment on who the stars should be. However, it would make a great mini-series, and I expect the BBC will do just that after a few more titles are added to the series.
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