I'd always heard that Gulliver's Travels was one of the great satiric works of English literature, but if that's the case, I don't really understand the word. I had always thought satire was a gentle, humourous, and sometimes even affectionate skewering of the status quo, but this book is actually often rather angry and ham-fisted. Then again, sometimes it is humourous to the point of almost being farcical. Either way, it's not the children's book that some might be expecting.
Regardless of whether I'd call it satire, I did enjoy it - and I'm glad I listened to it rather than read it, as I think some of the language would have made it a very difficult read. It's a classic for many reasons, and it is referenced time and time again in popular culture, in whole or in part. Many know the basics of the 4 travel stories that make up this book - one to a land of miniature people, one to a land of gigantic people, one to a land led by a floating city with emphasis on math and music, and one to a land of rationality and reason presided over by equines, not humans. Mostly, I believed they allowed Swift an opportunity to lampoon all the parts of his society that he wished to insult, but in a more acceptable manner than shouting it out on street corners.
David Hyde Pierce did a wonderful job, not only in making some of the imaginary language understandable rather than distracting, but also in making the events seem more plausible than they otherwise might be in print and in making the sometimes long and drawn-out descriptions more palatable. Sadly, it took a while before I stopped thinking of Niles Crane narrating a story with his brother as the protagonist, but that fault is solely my own and not a problem with his narration.
I think this story pushes the envelope a little too far when it ventures to Hollywood.....had most of the story stayed on the ocean liner crossing the Atlantic, I think it would have been much better. I like the central cast of characters (all except for Queenie - she should have stayed with her new boss), but things reached ridiculous with the wild animals and movie plans. It was a fun romp up to and including New York, and I hope the next installment will stick a little closer to home for the 34th in line to the throne and her Irish beau.
And I hope Queenie gets a job elsewhere and exits from the series!
Katherine Kellgren's narration is always great, but even she was stretched a little too far, especially with the Spanish and Mexican accents. She managed a range of American accents fine, though she was a little over the top with the Western twang too. I'm hoping for a more Euro-centered story next time. Maybe even within the UK. A trip to Darcy's old home, maybe?
If you're captivated by the machinations of wealthy families....well, this might be the book for you. I found the story dragged on and on with predictability, but then the last chapters felt rushed as if Follett felt the need to wrap things up quickly. All the regular suspects are there (the rich snob, the hooker with a heart of gold, the honourable son, the black sheep of the family, the evil foreigner) but they don't add up to anything unexpected and aren't written with much subtlety or imagination. Follett seems to me to write some excellent books and some very average ones, and this is solidly in the second category.
This is my first venture into Russian literature, and I am pleased to say the wonderful narration helped with the difficult nomenclature.......characters are referenced sometimes by their last names, sometimes by their first and middle names, and sometimes by their nicknames - all of which are foreign to my ears. But because of Anthony Heald's narration skills, I could sort out who was whom and keep the story straight. I'm sure it would have been more difficult if I were reading the text.
This is a combination of philosophy, social commentary, and a murder mystery; the murder mystery is the weakest of all the components, I think, and the murder is used mostly as an illustration and as motivation for the rest. That's OK, because the philosophy and moral questions posed by the book are the real meat-and-potatoes of what makes it interesting. This is not an easy book, but it was ultimately worthwhile. Still, it will take some time before I'm ready again to take on another Russian novel that looks at philosophy and society so deeply. I think I need a change of pace now with a bit of fluffy pop fiction - it's good to mix them up.
Even though this novel is over 30 years old, it's the first time I've sampled any of Martha Grimes' books and so far I think they're good - but there's not much in this one that will make me rush to listen to the rest of the series. I've found I like the character-rich British mysteries more than American ones, and I guess I should have realized that even though these mysteries are set in small-town Britain, they're still written by an American and that will seep through. Too many of the players here seemed almost to be caricatures of themselves, or of a type. Not really my cup of tea, I guess.
Crooked House was a terrific story, and I liked it far better than Endless Night, but both were good. Crooked House seemed to have more energy and engaging characters, but Endless Night had more mystery and sense of foreboding. Both were good, and this was well worth the time.
I've read and listened to a few of Barclay's books before, and they were better written and more enjoyable than this one. One of the things I like about his books is that his protagonists are ordinary people caught up in unfortunate circumstances, and that's true here too, but I thought that some of the characters were either particularly stupid or weak, and that bothered me. Also, this is, at the end, a story of revenge - and I don't particularly like revenge stories - they're colder than the more common and passionate motivators of action like money, lust, jealousy, or power.
The narrator was fine, but just OK - I don't think he really added much to the experience.
This is a different type of Christie story for me, as almost half of it takes place in the past - remembered by characters and explained in exposition - rather than actively happening. That made for a different feel to the story, but it's a good story nonetheless: A year ago, a young socialite married to an older man dies of cyanide poisoning at a restaurant, and it is declared a suicide. Almost a year later, her husband gets a note stating that it was actually a murder, and at the birthday dinner at the same restaurant for the dead woman's sister, he ends up dying of cyanide poisoning himself. Was it suicide from grief? Was the note correct or a red herring? Was his death also a murder?
All good questions and a plot for a good mystery, but the resulting solution is weak and unworthy of the setup, IMO.
Like the first in the series, this is good, lightweight fun with a lot of humour and a little crime on the Jersey Shore. There's more character development in it, which makes me look forward to future installments, but it's still a fun, easy "read" that kept me entertained. It's not great literature, but it is good fun, and the narration was terrific.
This is probably a very difficult novel to read, as it is various streams of consciousness of different (but often intertwining characters) taking place in the course of a single day. The novel jumps from one to another without so much as a chapter break, but the fabulous narration of Juliet Stevenson makes it so much easier to understand and follow. The language is so wonderful, it's almost poetic in it's feeling and pacing, and this was a joy to listen to.
I'm a big John Wyndham fan, but this is one I'd never read - and fortunately it's wonderfully read and rendered as an audiobook. Like several of his others, this book follows an invasion of Earth, centering on England, but unlike many alien-invasion stories, this one involves aliens in the deep that are never seen by any of the characters in the book. It adds an air of mystery to the already mysterious happenings, as does the music that separates segments of the story in this production.
The narrator does a great job, not only in personalizing the different characters, but also in keeping the tone from getting too maudlin.
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