First the book: The story is enjoyable, but I wouldn't say it's the best book I've ever known. Mattie is tough as nails and I found her pluck quite endearing, but I didn't find myself thinking about the characters when I was away from the book the way I have with other novels.
Now for the narrator: Donna Tartt is the perfect voice for the Mattie. As soon as she starts reading, the main character is 100% believable. Her male voices are ok, but a little slow in pace. I did, however, admire how she used different accents for Asians, Native Americans, and Mexicans. No easy task with a drawl as rich as Tartt's. Kudos for the diversity. However..... I kept getting drawn out of the story with Tartt's incessant swallowing and slightly-too-long pauses between paragraphs. I wonder if this was recorded in her own home studio or something. I don't ever recall hearing so much swallowing or noticeable pauses in any other books I've listened to. It was really quite annoying.
So, I guess I'd recommend this audiobook to history buffs and people who can tune out distracting noises, but if you tend to fixate on those sounds, this recording will drive you crazy.
The story is told by Humbert Humbert'- a frustrated pedophile who finally has an opportunity to act on his impulses with Lolita, his landlady's 12 year old daughter. The man is despicable and awful and sick. I cringed as I listened to some of the passages. But the writing was so beautiful and astonishingly rich, it made up for the terrible events described in the book.
I can't say enough good things about the way Jeremy Irons narrated this audiobook. In fact, I think the book would have been vastly less engaging for me if I had read it myself.
Irons embodied the pedophile's character so convincingly, I'm not sure I will ever be able to watch him in another movie without thinking of Humbert Humbert.
If you are a photographer, psychologist, or both, you will probably enjoy this quirky novella about a schizophrenic man who investigates the disappearance of a very strange camera. I found the story to be intriguing and scientifically sound (as far as it can be in science fiction). The character (and his hallucinations) were all engaging and funny, and I thought the ending was satisfying.
It's a little short, so I'm not sure I would have spent a whole credit on it, but I downloaded it during a free giveaway offer and enjoyed every minute of it.
I chose this book because I wanted to read War and Remembrance but I didn't want to jump into the middle of a series. The Winds of War is the first book and takes place before War and Remembrance.
It's the story of naval officer Pug Henry and his family in the months before the US entered WWII. I learned so much about WWII listening to this book- surprising things that were never taught to me in school. For instance, I never had a clear grasp of why Japan attacked Pearl Harbor until it was put into context by this book. Likewise, I didn't realize how loathe Americans were to enter the battle nor how reluctant we were to help the Jews at first. For me, the book was enjoyable and educational at the same time.
As far as audiobooks go, this one is very long. Very long. I had to listen to it at 2x speed. But that doesn't detract from the experience. Plus, I feel like I got my money's worth when I get the longer audiobooks.
The narrator is brilliant. He does every accent from Germans to Polish to Southern U.S. to British and everything in between.
I highly recommend this audiobook.
I loved the writing style of McDonald, which was beautifully descriptive and lush. Unfortunately I found the plot(s) to be so complex that I couldn't follow all the threads across the whole novel. This probably says more about my cognitive ability (or lack thereof) than the book itself.
More cerebral readers will probably appreciate the multiple storylines and how they intertwine, but I found them difficult to keep straight.
This book is a fictional memoir of Dinah, daughter of Jacob. I wouldn't really call it Biblical, other than it refers to people from her family and uses some of the events described in the Bible as a framework for weaving the story. Beyond that, it is simply a beautifully-told story about a woman growing up in an ancient civilization, with all the different superstitions, religions, and gender role expectations you would expect from that time period. The Red Tent is the refuge the women escape to during their menses. It symbolizes sisterhood, tradition, and rest. She tells stories about growing up with four mothers (Jacob's four wives) and about entering womanhood. She tells about her experiences as a midwife, and as a wife and mother herself. Many of her anecdotes are humorous and ring true today (eg, Having to stop what you're doing every few minutes to feed yet another hungry son, or finding subtle ways to suggest a task to your husband without coming right out and telling him to do so.) She gives vivid descriptions of her experiences, which span the spectrum of love, laughter, pain, grief, and horror. There are some parts which are heart-wrenching, and I admit I shed a few tears, but mainly it's just a touching novel focused on women's relationships with each other and their men in an ancient and rapidly-changing world.
For parents: This book discusses many mature topics in a frank and often explicit way: menstruation, masturbation, sex, rape, giving birth, circumcision, ancient womanhood rites, bestiality. A parent should probably review this book before handing it to a younger teenager. Some people also found this book to be sacrilegious. Personally, I wasn't bothered by the liberties taken by the author because it was clearly fiction, but those with strong Biblical beliefs might find it upsetting.
For the Audible recording:
One of the reasons I chose to listen to this book rather than read it was because I wasn't sure I could pronounce all the foreign names in this book. I still don't know if the narrator pronounced the names correctly, but when I looked them up in my paper copy they seemed reasonable. I would be curious to know if other listeners found the pronunciations acceptable. I found the narrator's voice quite pleasant and an appropriate fit for Dinah's.
The narrator is professional-sounding. At first I thought she sounded a little old for the character, but I guess Mercy is lat 20's so it's not like she's a young girl. I enjoyed the narrator's range in accents, but some of her choices were a bit silly- Stephan the Vampire sounds like The Count from Sesame Street. I couldn't tell if it was the narrator's voice, or the sarcastic style of the main character, but the narration sounded patronizing and melodramatic at times.
Sadly, I cannot recommend this audiobook. The story itself is slow and plodding, the writing style is extremely tedious, and the author over-explains the simplest of activities. Example: "I called Adam's home phone, his cell phone, and his pager. Then I called Warren's home number, too. I looked Darryl's number up in the phone book and called him, writing down the other numbers his machine purred at me. But he wasn't answering his cell phone either. After a moment of thought, I turned the TV onto the local station...."
It's hard enough reading that on a page, listening to it is downright infuriating. There are also a ton of minor characters that are difficult to keep straight, most of which are expendable in my opinion. The vampires, for instance, could have been written out of the story quite easily with little loss. Unfortunately, this plethora of characters makes the audiobook even harder to follow. There were many moments where I thought, "Huh, who the heck is that guy?" And quite honestly, I didn't care. Most of the characters were forgettable anyway. The only characters who had some semblance of personality were Mercy, Zee and Stephan. Adam was comatose most of the book, and Jessie was a cardboard cut-out preteen caricature. Bran, Samuel, and all the wolves from the northern pack all just kind of blended together.
I give this audiobook 2 stars for it's plodding writing style, random sub-plots, and too many minor characters. I will not be reading/listening to the rest of this series.
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