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Ian C Robertson

Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.

South Australia, Australia | Member Since 2010

195
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 91 reviews
  • 104 ratings
  • 227 titles in library
  • 30 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
3
FOLLOWERS
21

  • A Tale of Two Cities

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Ian Richardson
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (21)

    After 18 years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the aging Dr. Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England.

    VR says: "tremendous narration-- dickens words come alive"
    "Top Shelf"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book needs no review, but I simply could not resist the oportunity to lavish praise upon it and Sir Ian Richardson's narration. The story is superlative. The characters are so memorable. The characterization by Sir Ian is so entirely consistent with each of them. And the moral is so enduring. This Dickensian masterpiece for all ages boasts one of the best first paragraphs in literary history and one of the best last paragraphs, too. It is the best of books and the best of performances I have been privileged to listen too. I could listen to it again, now.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Sheltering Sky

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Paul Bowles
    • Narrated By Jennifer Connelly
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (233)
    Performance
    (207)
    Story
    (213)

    The Sheltering Sky is a landmark of 20th-century literature, a novel of existential despair that examines the limits of humanity when it touches the unfathomable emptiness of the desert. Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream) gives masterful voice to this American classic.

    Melinda says: "A Teacup Full of Sand on the Highest Dune"
    "Worth the Waiting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have been awaiting some time a copy of Bertolucci's movie to arrive. In the meantime I listened over and over to the Police's "Tea in the Sahara". When the DVD arrived it was from the wrong zone. So it's taken some time to complete the circle of information that I wanted before I commenced on the review. In a way, the waiting was a fair reflection of the tedium that the book so casually describes. "Casual" is an appropriate word too, because Port and Kit (the protagonists) remind me of Fitzgerald's "careless people"; their lives are so self-absorbed, it is really quite hard to like either of them. Tunner (the third leg of the stool) is not any more redeeming.
    It took me a while to get into the novel. It wasn't until I started approaching it like a long, un-parsed poem, just listening to the words without really trying to make them mean too much that I started to get a feel for the solitude and lack of solicitude that Bowels brings to the whole landscape. On reflection now, I think it is an inspired piece of writing, but for a third of the novel, I struggled with it and with the narration.
    When I got it, then I appreciated the narration that Jennifer Connelly brought to the words. The flat, toneless delivery contrasted so starkly with the eloquence of the language; "the meaningless hegemony of the voluntary" and the title driving, "Reach out. Pierce the fine fabric of the sheltering sky and take repose". Just writing the words brings forth the images that are so beautifully captured by Bertolucci's lens and Ryuichi Sakamoto's haunting theme.
    I must say I loved this book more after I finished it than when reading it. That suggests to me that it is not for everyone. However, if you are the one for it, get yourself a copy of the film after you have finished listening. A young Malkovich and a very young Debra Winger. You won't regret the wait.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Children Act

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Ian McEwan
    • Narrated By Lindsay Duncan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now, her marriage of thirty years is in crisis. At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful 17-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life.

    Ian C Robertson says: "Welcome Back!"
    "Welcome Back!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have struggled with the last few McEwan titles although I have been a long-time fan (ever since I first read Amsterdam). This is a welcome return to Amsterdam form. I do not know if my familiarity with the legal themes helped with this perception, but it certainly did not hurt. In fact, there were times when I thought a person who was not intimately familiar with the English common law system and the precedent system particular to the United Kingdom (which is different in nuance from the US, for example), might have missed some of the subtleties of the narrative. It made me wonder if I have missed like subtleties in recent books (say about the publishing houses referred to in Sweet Tooth) and thereby misjudged them. In the end, I ignored the nagging doubt and settled back to enjoy the book. I don't think a legal background is a prerequisite
    I thought Lindsay Duncan's read a very good one; not unlike Carole Boy's reading of Atonement and Juliet Stevenson's reading of Sweet Tooth. I suspect that whomever chooses Mr McEwan's narrators has a preference. For my part, I would not argue with that. The one constant in the three titles that I've mentioned is the high standard of the narration. This time (and with Atonement, notwithstanding my second time doubts), the content and the performance were a par.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 1 min)
    • By John le Carré
    • Narrated By Michael Jayston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (50)
    Story
    (51)

    Alec Leamas has ended his time in Berlin. Or his time has ended him. The last of his Eastern agents has been killed, like the others, by the Abteilung. Back at the Circus, Leamas is put on the shelf. He turns to drunkenness and dishonesty and finally disappears from view, a seemingly broken man. But unknown to anyone except George Smiley and his master, Control, Leamas has been given his toughest mission ever. He will have to be himself but more so.

    Pita says: "Outstanding Novel, Brilliantly Read"
    "Still Chilling"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It has been a long time indeed since I read this title. I recall it being rather dull and somewhat disturbing for a reason I couldn't quite put my finger upon. Now, with the benefit of time, I understand that I was not old enough to appreciate the chilling undertone to a book, where there is so little violence (although a fair number of people die), but an eerie threat permeates the text. That threat is like a fog that I associates with East Berlin, the Wall and all thinks KGB, NKVD and the other counterpoints to MI6 and the CIA. Listening to the narrative now I appreciate the grit, the ugliness and the end justifies everything mendacity that drove people like Smiley, Leamas, Mundt, Control, Fiedler and others. It is the reverse of the superficial sense of fairness of Liz Gold.
    This is still a cracker story with a terrific ending. It's not the same as the film (with Richard Burton terrific in the Leamas role) although the core scenes are pretty close. Le Carre had a hand in the screenplay, so I guess that's not so surprising.
    As for Michael Jayston's reading, I vacillated between loving it and being frustrated when he dropped the accents. In particular, his Leamas starts with a distinct Burton-like quality, but by the final chapter it had gone completely. I am not sure if that was an intended conceit, but if it was, it did not work for me. In the end I gave it a 3, but overall it is probably about a 3.5.
    This was a very enjoyable re-discovery. I am sure it will prompt me to re-read the Karla Trilogy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Memory of Light: Wheel of Time, Book 14

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer, Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5404)
    Performance
    (4899)
    Story
    (4963)

    Since 1990, when Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time® burst on the world with its first book, The Eye of the World, listeners have been anticipating the final scenes of this extraordinary saga, which has sold over 40 million copies in over 32 languages. When Robert Jordan died in 2007, all feared that these concluding scenes would never be written. But working from notes and partials left by Jordan, established fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson stepped in to complete the masterwork.

    Amazon Customer says: "End of one of my favorite fantasy series ever."
    "A Fitting Ending"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Given the journey it was hugely important that the last stanza lived up to its billing. In my view it does. There will be those who are disappointed with the very end, but generally the threads are well woven together and the ultimate duel is a great revelation. I won't give it away, but it suffices to say that it is not Almoth Plain again, or Dumai Wells, but something deeper and more considered.
    Sanderson is to be congratulated for rescuing this epic work that seemed on the verge of expiring with its erstwhile creator, prematurely. His rejuvenation is the hall mark of the series after its fantastic beginning with the WOT.
    The Narration is steady and consistent. I still felt the doubling up of character voices was unnecessary (for example, Talmades might be read by Kramer or Reading, meaning that the character sounded different depending on who was narrating), but overall it enabled a long piece of narration to remain interesting.
    Fans will be happy, I think.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Leopard: A Harry Hole Thriller, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbo
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (159)
    Performance
    (119)
    Story
    (118)

    In the depths of winter, a killer stalks the city streets. His victims are two young women, both found with twenty-four inexplicable puncture wounds, both drowned in their own blood. The crime scenes offer no clues, the media is reaching fever pitch, and the police are running out of options. There is only one man who can help them, and he doesn’t want to be found.

    Lia says: "Exciting and captivating"
    "Approaching the Bounds"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I regret to say that my favourite Scandinavian Knave detective really pushed the boundaries in this outing. Whereas to now Nesbo has been building to the level of complexity that others (the UK reviewers, notably) compare to Larsson, I could not help but feel that in this episode he crossed the edge of reality. There was too much evil, too much counter-point and too much that was just not "real".
    What I've always liked about Harry is how real he is; flawed in his many ways, but deep down, honest. This time he was too resilient, he survived too much. I barely recognise the tall, thin blond cropped anti-hero of the past novels. I can only say that I hope Nesbo returns Harry "home", where he belongs.
    For all that, the story is suspenseful and the action exhausting. That's another thing; I felt like I was reading a movie plot, not a Harry Hole. This won't keep me from reading on, but I am trusting that Harry has not plateaued.
    Sean Barrett is, as usual, excellent, but I got the impression that even he was having trouble believing what Harry was up to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Staying On

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Paul Scott
    • Narrated By Paul Shelley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Tusker and Lily Smalley stayed on in India. Given the chance to return ‘home’ when Tusker, once a Colonel in the British Army, retired, they chose instead to remain in the small hill town of Pankot, with its eccentric inhabitants and archaic rituals left over from the days of the Empire. Only the tyranny of their imposing landlady threatens to upset the quiet rhythm of their days.

    patricia bitker-golan says: "Brilliant. sensitive epilogue to the Raj Quartet"
    "A Pleasant Meander"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was gifted this title for my birthday a few months back and was surprised to realise that I had missed reading it during my school years. First, the Raj, where I was born, has a special fascination. Secondly, I thought I'd read most of the Booker winners. Thirdly, I've read Scott's other works, so how did I miss this. Then I started reading it and got an inkling. I think I might have started this twenty years ago and just not got into it. Fortunately, times have changed and I truly enjoyed this very pleasant listen.
    The Raj parts were a bit dated, a bit like Raj India now. It reminded me of my grandparents. I smelled the old decay in the early evening and the transition of a time that refuses (even to this day) to finally lie down and die.
    The story really is a bit of nothing, but it is told well, with a suppressed love and a slight longing. I enjoyed the odd pidgin word and the figurative shake of a be-turbaned head.
    It took me a bit to get used to Paul Shelley, but ultimately I warmed to him and he to his subject.
    I will be passing this little gem onto those who love and have loved old India.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Love in the Time of Cholera

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Gabriel García Márquez
    • Narrated By Armando Durán
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (519)
    Performance
    (457)
    Story
    (461)

    From the Nobel Prize-winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude comes a masterly evocation of an unrequited passion so strong that it binds two people's lives together for more than half a century. In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career, he whiles away the years in 622 affairs - yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral....

    Darryl says: "Marquez is great, awaiting 100 Years"
    "One for Posterity"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is plainly one of the best titles I have ever listened to and, I suspect, it would be a pleasure to read. The language hangs in that shadowy place between prose and poetry. In many ways, it reminds me of Rushdie's "Enchantress of Florence", without the complexity of plot.
    A love story told over a generation and an half, borne of experience and tested in adversity. It also reminds me of Ben Okri's "Famished Road" and and there is no small resemblance to Don Quixote, too.
    I loved the plot. It is just so simple, yet it carries the characters along their paths, like the river does at the end. It begins with a death by gold cyanide and there is a hint of fatality in what then follows. I enjoyed the personification of the disease, Cholera, the structure that it brings to the story and the melancholy it drips. All the while the story follows the lovesick "fool", Florentino Ariza. As he relentlessly pursues his love of Fermina Daza, amidst long and strange dallying with the recently widowed population along the Caribbean coast, one comes to like, dislike, pity and then envy the man. Similarly, one comes to smile, frown, swear at and then congratulate Fermina. The emotions are truly cyclical.
    Finally, it would be remiss not to comment on the lovely reading by Duran. At times he reminded me of the actor, Peter Coyote, rasping his way in a surprisingly melodious way across the beautiful language.
    In my opinion, this is one for true listening pleasure.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Amy Alkon
    • Narrated By Carrington MacDuffie
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (40)

    We live in a world that's very different from the one in which Emily Post came of age. Many of us who are nice (but who also sometimes say "f*ck") are frequently at a loss for guidelines about how to be a good person who deals effectively with the onslaught of rudeness we all encounter. To lead us through this this miasma of modern manners, syndicated columnist Amy Alkon - The Advice Goddess - gives us a new set of manners for our 21st-century lives.

    G. House Sr. says: "Hilarious and a Direct Hit - Must Listen"
    "Too Carrie For Me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of the titles I picked-up on recommendation. I can't say that I enjoyed it, although at times it made me smile; for example the Title.
    It's written under topics that purport to be inclusive, but I got the impression that it was a selection of prior advice columns collected together under a general tag. For example, the same sentence or series of sentences appears on two or three occasions and really do not warrant repetition.
    Also, the text sounds a lot like extracts out of "Sex in the City", without the fourway tension or bedroom antics. Much of this text I disagree with (particularly the misleading of others to avoid a confrontation and anonymous notes). I think I am too direct to apply much of The Goddess' advice.
    Still, that is not a good reason to pan a book. The narrative is entertaining and sharp (like the bits that bite - kids on planes, for example).
    It's not for me, but if you like "She's Not that Into You", then you'd probably like this too. I liked "Sex In the City" (eventually), but I guess I'm not ready to take Amy's advice (which, I suspect, she's cool with).

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Snowman: A Harry Hole Thriller, Book 7

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbo
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (118)
    Performance
    (90)
    Story
    (88)

    The night the first snow falls a young boy wakes to find his mother gone. He walks through the silent house, but finds only wet footprints on the stairs. In the garden looms a solitary figure: a snowman bathed in cold moonlight, its black eyes glaring up at the bedroom windows. Round its neck is his mother’s pink scarf.Inspector Harry Hole is convinced there is a link between the disappearance and a menacing letter he received some months earlier.

    Lia says: "Gripping - Practically a horror novel"
    "Murder made personal"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Now I think I know Harry a whole lot better than when I picked up "The Bat". He and I have been through a lot together; he, and I and Jack and Jim. Long hours searching and not finding; looking in the right places for the wrong things. We have come such a long way, he and I. Well, that's what it feels like.
    Jo Nesbo has come a long way, too. I wrote in an earlier review ("The Redeemer") that the plots are getting more complex and the stories richer. But, even then (only two books before this one) for all of Nesbo's Hole anti-hero charm, it was still a far cry from the sticker that appears on all his books, "The Next Stieg Larsson". I understand (from web reviews) that Nesbo hates that epithet, and who would blame him. Still, it was meant as a compliment, I'm sure, and this book takes a huge stride in the Larsson direction. It is blacker, more daring and very suspenseful. I can well see why it is being mooted as a motion picture. For my part, I highly recommended it in this genre, .
    Barrett is, as I have said, now Harry Hole; tall, thin, gaunt, with the alcoholic's pallor. All of that is in his voice. Worth a good listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Salman Rushdie at the 92nd Street Y

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 36 mins)
    • By Salman Rushdie
    • Narrated By Christopher Hitchens
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (22)

    Mr. Rushdie, the author of Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses and The Ground Beneath Her Feet, reads from his newest novel, Shalimar the Clown.

    Ian C Robertson says: "In the midst of genius"
    "In the midst of genius"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This time I read the blurb correctly; it is indeed Rusdie interviewed by Hitchens. It's not as good as the one I picked up by mistake (which is all interview and wherein they rehearse some of the stories that they abbreviate in this version), but it is still very entertaining.
    Rushdie reads extracts from his then new release, Shalimar the Clown ( a great book). The reading is not great, but the insight, the wit and the freakish brilliance of Rushdie is on show in every word of every line. The little tribute to great Indian writers (by Hitchens) is also very interesting.
    Another hour well spent. When someone asks you that old chestnut, if you could have dinner with anyone at all, you'll know to say Salmund (alas, Hitchens has left us).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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