Moss Beach, CA, United States | Member Since 2008
Yes, I actually have listened to parts of it again. I'm fascinated by the way in which McCall Smith effortlessly weaves philosophy into the story.
Since this is a series, it can be compared with any of the other books in the series. As in other series (take Ann B Ross's Miss Julia series, for instance) the characters are recurring, and half the fun is in finding out how they've progressed from the last book.
I have read some of the books, as opposed to listening to them. I find the audible versions tend to put me more convincingly in Edinburgh. Robert Ian Mackenzie can turn on a Scotch brogue in a way I can't. He's particularly effective as Angus Lordie.
Many laughs, many smiles. Maybe even a tear or two.
I love the way he sees the world through his characters' eyes, be it six-year-old Bertie, or Cyril the dog, or the twenty-something Matthew. These are well-delineated characters. Too many fictional characters are caricatures. McCall Smith's characters are wonderfully low key, each with his or her own limitations and self-perceptions, navigating a world filled with other human beings with their own foibles — people who are narcissistic, overbearing, dishonest, self-deluded, self-sacrificing, gullible, hopeful, sad, funny and sweet. They each come with the sort of mild eccentricities and self-doubt that you'll recognize in members of your own family. In other words, they're believable.
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.
This is one of my favorite books of the past year (out of about 60). The concept is intriguing, and the protagonist becomes more compelling with each iteration. The minor characters also acquire more depth as they resurface throughout the stories. The narrator could not have been better. And the ending is tremendously satisfying. This is not a book I'll soon forget.
First, I should say I’ve read most of Maeve Binchy’s books and am a big fan. However, this volume, published after her death, might better be considered an unfinished work. It’s a collection of 36 stories, only loosely connected by the street on which some of the characters live (in some cases it’s a tangential connection). Most of the stories end rather abruptly, and knowing Binchy’s previous work, I expect she would have connected some of the stories and characters, and possibly have fleshed out some of the characters and expanded some stories had she lived to help in the editing process.
Certainly she would have brought some element into the book to redeem the otherwise gloomy outlook. Of the 36 stories, there are but three that might be considered optimistic. These are all character studies of mostly sad, wronged women who work hard and are continually disappointed in their relationships with parents, siblings, friends, and especially men. The men, in all but four of these stories, are drunks, gamblers, philanderers, drug dealers, unethical businessmen, workaholics, neglectful and cheating husbands and boyfriends, and absent fathers.
The narrator has a pleasant Irish accent, but she also has a lisp that is sometimes distracting, and there is no attempt made at differentiating characters through voice; so they all sound exactly alike.
I've read or listened to all of Alexander McCall Smith's adult books, and this one stands apart in its repetition and lack of humor. In tone it reminds me of Scott Spencer's Endless Love, or the novels of Anne Tyler. We suffer the protagonist's obsession for hours, only to be handed a shockingly abrupt ending. The scene we eagerly anticipated throughout the book finally arrives, we wait to see what the main character will say and do, and suddenly a curtain is drawn over that pivotal, life changing moment, and we find ourselves on a beach, with the protagonist and her mother, engaged in a banal conversation that adds nothing to the story. How disappointing!
Nonetheless, along the way we're treated to a few of McCall Smith's philosophical asides, insights into human character, and the nature of romantic love. And Susan Lyons does a wonderful job of narration, handling a number of English accents with subtlety and grace.
I thought this would be a pleasant Young Adult novel (aka, light literature). Instead, ten minutes into it I was hooked and spent the rest of the day listening to the end. Yes, I agree that the narrator could have done a better job of differentiating the two main characters, but the story was well-paced and compelling. Tracey Garvis Graves excels at the subtleties of relationships, and has an unusual understanding of teenage boys. Entirely satisfying.
Elle Lothlorien takes a tired genre and gives it a shot of energy with her wry sense of humor and impeccable pacing. I read the ebook first, and enjoyed it, but the heroine's voice in my head didn't match the manic delivery of Leah Frederick. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the audio version just as much, as Frederick gave it her own unique spin.
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.
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