I don't know that I've ever written this on this site, but I think this is a book better read than heard. At least, it's better read than heard with this narrator.
His general tone is one of sneering condescension, as he explains things that his tone seems to indicate any idiot should know. It's as if he's sprinkling vinegar, rather than honey, while attempting to convert a group of flies.
There is a lot of good information in this book. I had many questions as to the origin of the information provided. Perhaps the printed edition includes footnotes.
I have to say that the book gave me a lot to think about, and I will be adjusting my diet.
I really liked the characters in this book. We came to know and care about many of the people stuck in the London blitz. There was a lot of excellent history, and I think the author did a fabulous job letting us experience the terror of constant bombing, the privation of constant rationing and the courage shown by much of the population.
The cutting back and forth between different centuries and different locations was a little harder to follow in an audiobook than in print.
What made me subtract a star from the overall score was the constant repetition of the same themes - "I'm stuck, no one can rescue me", "I may have changed history" and "I'm not going to tell my friends what's really going on because I don't want them to worry."
The six parts that make up the two books in this series were probably twice as long as they needed to be.
I'm no stranger to, or enemy of, extremely long books, but I do want the story to keep moving. The same thoughts kept running through the characters' heads, and it was tiresome to hear them over and over.
We also got to hear slightly humorous or sarcastic thoughts, almost never voiced, which was also annoying. One character might say, "That's a dangerous job" and another would think "Not as dangerous as rescuing prisoners from Dunkirk".
I wondered why the characters couldn't occasionally voice their thoughts. It also occurred to me that characters, like people, probably only think interesting thoughts a small percentage of the time. Listening to every boring thought that anyone might have in a day is almost torture.
Perhaps this review is more negative than I intend, but I like Connie Willis' work in general, and I liked the characters and theme of this book. If the redundant thoughts were eliminated, I think this would be a great read for lovers of history, sci-fi fans and those looking for an exciting listen.
This book seemed to be the first draft of a book. There were interesting stories about killers, but there didn't seem to be any connection between the various stories except that all the killers were active in Los Angeles. The opening story, of the so-called Grim Sleeper, was captivating, but the book was not even able to provide a conclusion, as the man arrested had not been convicted by the end of the book.
There were no insights into what made a person "homicidal", nor how the police could easily recognize incipient serial killers.
This book was also very short, reminding me of the joke from Annie Hall, "The food isn't very good...And such small portions!"
I loved this series. Professor Messenger has a wealth of knowledge, a pleasant voice, a trove of old recordings and a cast of musicians and singers on call.
We learned of the origins of musical theater in revues, minstrel shows and musicals.
Many different performers, composers and lyricists are discussed, including Gershwin, Rogers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Al Jolson, Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor and many more. Andrew Lloyd Weber even rates a bit of discussion in the last lecture.
I learned a lot, and I loved listening to the music.
As a person who has never taken any sort of music class, there were parts of two lectures that I didn't fully understand. Professor Messenger discussed phrasing (AABC, AABB, and/or some other patterns that I couldn't hear) and he discussed blue notes, which I think I did understand.
Those were the only even moderately technical discussions. The rest of the series involved history, themes, current events, race relations in the theater and the world, as well as other topics easily understood by anyone.
I am sure that I will listen to this very enjoyable series again.
I have been an opera lover for decades, and Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" is my absolute favorite. I also like "The Magic Flute" and "Don Giovanni" very much. I wanted to know more about Mozart and his operas, and this title did deliver.
Unfortunately, the first third of the series was devoted to "Cosi Fan Tutte". While I did learn a lot about Cosi, I have always disliked the inane story, and the lectures changed my opinion only slightly for the better.
The middle third of the series was devoted to Mozart's early life and early works, and (IIRC) "Don Giovanni". I found the information, and some of the selections, fascinating.
The last third gave very short shrift to "The Marriage of Figaro". I think Marriage might have gotten 1 lecture (45 minutes), possibly 2. The lack of attention paid to "Marriage" is perplexing, since Dr. Greenberg points out its many stellar arias, particularly the sextet when Susanna learns Figaro's parentage. "The Abduction from the Seraglio" is barely mentioned. A lot of time was spent explaining the Masonic origins and meanings in "The Magic Flute". I've always felt "Flute" dragged during the Masonic tests, but Dr. Greenberg's explanation made those sections more interesting to me, as well as explaining why Pamina joined Tamino for the last test, and why Papageno was not punished for his general bad behavior.
In addition to my disappointment in the relative amount of time spent on the various operas, I also found Dr. Greenberg's voice somewhat grating. I did enjoy his enthusiasm for his subject.
In summary, I'd say that this lecture provides excellent information and musical selections, but I wish Mozart's great operas had all gotten equal analysis time.
I found this book interesting, particularly regarding the manners and goings on in the mysterious Forbidden City. I don't think the character of Orchid was particularly well-developed. She recognizes that her husband has many problems (both personal and political) but doesn't seem to do anything to help him overcome his personal problems, and doesn't plot to help him avoid his political troubles (she does answer his mail in his name.) While it may be historically accurate that there's not much she could do while her husband was alive, history now records her as far from retiring or inactive.
More annoying, especially at the beginning of the book, was the narrator's apparent sinus trouble. She constantly seemed to be dealing with post nasal drip, which required audible gulps.
In addition, her voice throughout the book was extremely calm and placid. While this might seem to be appropriate for an empress, Orchid never seemed to convey any excitement. Even when she sees the marvels of Forbidden City, which she says are amazing, the narrator shows no awe in her voice.
If you'd like to hear about life at the end of the imperial age, this may be worth a listen, provided the narrator's sinuses and placidity don't turn you off.
I read this book thirty years ago, but remembered only that Raskolnikov "took an axe, gave the pawnbroker 30 whacks, when he saw what he had done, he gave her sister 31." (This was a popular ditty in my literature class.) I also remembered that I liked it.
When I purchased this audio version, I was surprised that it was long-ish. When I started listening, I was amazed how psychologically intense it was. I don't know if it was the narrator's skill or my own maturity, but I found this book incredibly disturbing.
We suffer with Raskolnikov. We share his fears of his own sanity. We also see the injustice done to innocent Lizavetta, something that virtually no one in the book mentions.
Raskolnikov's justification for his actions, and lack of remorse, reminded me of what might be the sentiments of the various killers who feel that the sacrifice of innocent lives in a cause they believe is just is not worth any consideration.
This is truly a work well worth hearing.
I have long wanted to read this book. It was on sale on Audible, and I thought the perfect opportunity had arisen.
Although the book is well-written and competently narrated, I found it very difficult to follow in audio. Were I reading a printed copy, I would have turned back to previous pages or chapters to review the information. I also believe a printed copy would have illustrations that added to the written word.
I did learn a lot, but not nearly so much as I am sure there is to learn.
I think this book is best read in print.
The narrator of this book is excellent. The stories themselves are excellent. The complexity of Faulkner's sentences and story structure, however, often forced me to rewind, because I wasn't certain if I had missed something.
Each story was fascinating, with tales of trickery and veniality mixed in with occasional kindness and hope.
I certainly cannot fault the narrator, who does a wonderful job with accents and differentiating the different speakers. Having read (in print) other books by Faulkner, I knew that he loves a rambling sentence, and always tells a moving tale.
If I had read this book (in print) before, perhaps I would not have been as confused by the sometimes abrupt turns the stories took.
It's book well worth reading, beautifully narrated, but I would recommend that if you haven't encountered Faulkner before, or if you like obvious continuity, you get the print edition.
In the intro to the book, PG Wodehouse tells us that this was his first big sale. He and his wife felt quite comfortable with their savings of $175, then he sold this book to (IIRC) The Atlantic for the unbelievable fortune of over $3000! He goes on to help aspiring writers of serial novels by telling them some lessons he learned (be vague about dates and locations - if you're still writing 50 years later you don't want the characters to be centenarians who live too far away from London to come up for a day trip.)
The story concerns the residents of Blandings Castle, pre-Empress, with (as usual) imposters visiting in order to steal something. The Earl, though absent minded and none-too-bright, is not the anti-social idiot we've come to know and love. His sister Ann is serving as chatelaine, and unlike his other sisters, is of an extremely retiring nature, seldom leaving her room and her voluminous correspondence. Baxter is there, determined to get to the bottom of things, as well as assorted pairs of mismatched lovers.
It will surprise no one to learn that, as always, skulduggery and love triumph at Blandings.
This is a long book. Two thirds of the way into it, I didn't care about a single character, including the narrator, whose life formed a mystery we were supposed to want to solve. In the final third of the book, the viewpoint changed from Grace, the maid, to Hannah, the heiress. I began to care (somewhat) about Hannah. Throughout the book were many teasers - who was Grace's father (pretty obvious), what happened to Robbie, what was "The Game" played by the three siblings and never discussed with others. The book made it seem like "The Game" would provide the answers to many mysteries. We don't find out about it until shortly before the end of the book, and IT WAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! It had no relevance to anything and seems to have been an exremely ill-defined red herring. What happened to Robbie was also a big disappointment. Thus, the first 2/3 of the book were boring, the next 1/6 somewhat interesting and the last 1/6 INFURIATINGLY worthless.
I've listened to hundreds of Audible books, and rate fewer than 10 (maybe fewer than 5) lower than 3. My thought on finishing was "There's a waste of over 24 hours." Save yourself the the time. Pick another book. (My favorite is _Anansi Boys_. _Nicholas Nickleby_ is also excellent.)
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