Moss Beach, CA, United States | Member Since 2009
Picking up the threads of the various stories
Superb writing, and despite a few characters who are caricatures, it's a fun ride. You'll recognize a lot of yourself, your friends and your neighbors in these characters.
When Caroline's new roommate comes through under difficult circumstances.
Don't want to spoil it for the reader, but McCall Smith is a master at showing the moment at which two people connect, or when that connection is broken.
Some bittersweet moments, some characters disappointed, some characters rewarded and surprised. A good read.
I loved the tension between Otto and Rinpoche, or rather the tension Otto feels toward new ideas and an unknown personality. His Western skepticism is logical. How else could one distinguish the authentic from the charlatan? One can't accept everyone who professes to be a teacher, nor even accept all of the ideas that a great teacher might espouse. But it's a fascinating study of how Rinpoche, a duck-out-of-water who lacks social skills (by Western standards) breaks down the defenses of Otto's rigid thinking and steers his adversary toward, if not enlightenment, at least toward a more open minded exploration of existence. The common decency displayed in the bowling alley scene actually had tears streaming down my face.
The characters are cardboard cliché’s, the dialogue laughable, the plot boring, the pace plodding, and the writing atrocious. I am truly shocked by how poorly written this book is, particularly as it won the National Book Award. Virtually every page (or minute) has paragraphs that could win “The Bad Hemingway Contest.”
The narration is also among the worst I’ve heard (out of hundreds) and seriously diminished the experience. If you are a writer and bemoan your lack of talent, read this book — it will make you feel so much better about yourself.
This book starts slowly and the main character, for all his heroism, is a hard man to like. His inability to understand himself is frustrating. His pointless philandering is disappointing. The pointlessness of his life is depressing. And the narrative style sometimes sways perilously close to a parody of the worst of the Romance genre. I also hate to give a book high marks for a writer's ability to vividly imagine man's inhumanity to man, as though evil=gravitas=important. But we live in perilous times where Man's inherent evil is daily paraded before us on the nightly news, so perhaps we deserve to be reminded of our specie's fatal flaws. For all of these reasons I was tempted to give the book no review and a mediocre rating.
But it grows on you. There are many sections that suck you in to a harrowing world where survival is one's whole reason for being, and where survivors eventually try to make sense of living in a post war world. These sections offer a mesmerizing tour-de-force of hypnotic prose that addresses the problem of being human. Or perhaps I'm being unfair to the females of the species, as the evils are all fueled by dehumanizing male fantasies of honor and patriotism, religion and codes of behavior that reward viciousness. Listening to this made me despair of being human, but the writing is, at times, transcendent. What a strange experience.
Not for the faint of heart.
I don't know if Karen White has any more adventures planned for these characters, but this book provides a very satisfying conclusion to the Tradd Street quartet. As genre fiction, Romance novels tend to be predictable. The question isn't where the author is taking us, but how she gets us there. What sets the top echelon apart is the writing. A few (Diana Gabaldon, Susanna Kearsley, and Karen White, for example) can write circles around many authors of more "serious" literature. Their plots, characterizations and power of description are a step above. Yes, the men tend to be tall, dark, handsome, available and incredibly patient, but that goes with the territory. Here Karen White melds Romance and Ghost Story genres into entertaining stories. Each of the four Tradd Street books could, theoretically, stand on its own, but the series is best appreciated when read in order. Enjoy.
Jeffery Deaver never disappoints. His thrillers and mysteries are always fast paced and have so many twists and turns you never really know the truth until the last page. This full cast recording is presented like an old-fashioned radio drama on steroids. It's like watching a movie with your eyes shut. It's entirely revealed through dialogue, a few sound effects and mood-setting music. It runs a little over 4 hours. If he'd written it as a printed book it would have included description, a bit more stage direction and perhaps a more elaborated backstory, which would make it run 8 or 9 hours. Since this is a plot-driven story, leaving out some of the extraneous material works just fine. It's set up for many sequels, and I'd be surprised if it doesn't find its way to the Big Screen. Great fun.
I probably would have enjoyed reading this as much as listening to it, but I must give credit to the narrator, Jim Broadbent. This is a novel that unfolds at a sedate pace, with observations, recollections and philosophical speculation that requires a certain unhurried delivery. Broadbent inhabits the character and lets us discover his world at a pedestrian gait. The book is deeply affecting, both heartwarming and heartrending, a book that will make you laugh out loud, smile and weep at the decency that can be found in ordinary lives. It's also beautifully written. The prose is simple, yet concise, as illustrated in this brief passage:
"They had made assumptions. They thought it was a love story, or a miracle, or an act of beauty, or even bravery, but it was none of those things. The discrepancy, between what he knew and what other people believed, frightened him. It also made him feel... that even in the midst of them he was unknown."
This is a book that you can open at random, read a few paragraphs, and find something new each time. Mysteries, thrillers, Romance, Comedy and Fantasy all have their place, but so does old fashioned, character-driven literature, of which this is a refreshing example.
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.
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