Ann Patchett has produced characters, circumstances, and locales that are engrossing from start to finish. Her brilliant way of describing even the most mundane details is what allows the reader to enter into the story completely. Listening to this book while driving to work one day, I realized I was so immersed in one of the depictions of the boat cutting through the rainforest amid swarming insects, that I was absentmindedly scratching at an imagined bite on my arm. And the characters! They are so unique and not easily analyzed. The people indigenous to the rainforest are described without sentimentality or stereotypes. This story links their tribal customs to the customs of profit-driven drug companies. It is filled with suspense, surprises, and the complexities of human relationships. It is a MUST read.
Listening to the first chapter, I did not think I would last too far with this book. So glad I did. The richness of the language, combined with the memorable characters, linked with the music, led to an exceptional listening experience. Robin Miles is to be congratulated for her masterful narration and singing! I believe that had I read the book instead of listened, I would have missed a valuable component. Simply stated, this audio book is beautiful and enriching.
The question that will continue to haunt humanity in the wake of the incomprehensible evil of Nazi Germany is “How could the churches see what was happening and do nothing to stop the horror?” In this intriguing biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we are given a clear and detailed response. With the use of an exhaustive collection of source materials (highlighted by Bonhoeffer’s letters, sermons, addresses, and prayers) we see how, year by year, an unholy emphasis on church politics, international alliances, and the emphasis on doctrine rather than faithfulness, helped to distract attention from the awful truth of what was happening right on the Church’s doorstep. Bonhoeffer’s life is a study in how an individual is called to live out his most deeply held beliefs.
No doubt about it, this book is beautifully written; however, that just did not help to sustain my interest. I kept listening, because I assumed the next chapter would turn out to be meatier, or funnier, or in some way or other, significant. I kept waiting and it never happened. I truly wanted to love this book, but it never really delivered on its promise. The prose and the way the dialogue is constructed make this book distinctive, but the characters are self-involved, angst-ridden unfortunates. In psychotherapy they are considered "the worried well." I kept wanting to say to them, "You call that a problem? I'll show you a person with problems."
This is just one of those great epics that you hate to see end. The greatest part for me, though was the amazing job done by narrator, Michael Boatman. The Russian, French, Italian accents, the foreign language sections and the variety of Irish brogues were luscious! The only distraction was stopping to wonder how one person could bring the speech patterns, pronunciations and inflections of such a wide range of characters to life. I've had the pleasure of listening to many fine book narrations, but by far this was the best. Kudos Mr. Boatman
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