Told from the viewpoints of sisters in an impoverished family with ties to the ballet, the story is surprisingly charming and engrossing -- I say surprisingly because I'm not interested in ballet and don't usually read period fiction. The narrator has a pleasant voice with a likable personality. I would call this elevated light entertainment - you won't learn anything but you won't feel like you've wasted your time on utter fluff, either.
Maybe my expectations were unrealistic - I was looking forward to reading this book, but it's a redundant academic tome that gave me nothing.
I found myself on a five hour ride in a shared cab in Greece, with three other people who did not speak a word of English. While this book is not great literature, it kept me entertained and made the time pass pleasantly. In other word, it's a "beach read" - honestly I would not go out of my way to read a second book by the same author, though. It's pretty predictable.
You need to have a particular sense of humor to enjoy this book - just make sure that's you before you buy this or you will be annoyed.
I wasn't expecting much - I like to download a few undemanding fluff-books for when I am out walking my dog. But this fails to deliver even that. The plot is less than banal, the writing is poor and repetitive, and as other reviewers have noted, the whole thing is made still worse by the extremely annoying narrator. The inappropriate, constant happy twinkle in her voice is hard to take.
This was just spectacularly amusing, well written, well read, with an unexpected depth and wealth of characters and story lines. I have no idea why I bought this, but it was my lucky day. The apparent story -- the queen of England decides to "run away" and experience one ordinary normal excursion - is only the thread that holds together the stories of several persons all associated with the palace staff in one way or another. The narrator manages to render all of them compellingly, and even the silly-seeming plot is told in a charming way. I can't think of anyone who would not enjoy this story.
I read volume 1 out of curiosity and found it reasonably diverting so thought I would try the audio version for volume 2. Not a good idea. In part the book just does not lend itself to being read aloud -- all those email exchanges are unbearably tedious to listen to (from: to: subject:). And the narrator is completely unsuitable, sounds like they grabbed some girl at random from a high school parking lot. Her male voices are headache-inducingly awful and incompetent, the main guy sounds especially ridiculous, she can't even sustain the same voice for more than one sentence, so you have no idea who is talking. It would be better if she had just spoken in her normal voice. Maybe she's secretly a feminist offended by the book and trying to put us off it? That's the only theory I can come up with to explain this terrible performance.
Obviously this is not War and Peace, but if you are looking for a few light-hearted hours or some good distraction in stressful waiting rooms or while traveling, this is perfect. The characters are well drawn, and the performance is delightful. I gave it five stars within its genre. Amusing without being dumb. This one is worth its credit.
Yes, I think I would, and that's saying a lot because I almost never listen to or read books a second time.
It's actually quite unique. On the one hand it is obviously absurd, but it never leaves the realm of the just-barely-possible. You are constantly thinking - yes, there ARE people like this, and they MIGHT do things like this. It's not like someone waking up as a cockroach...And, despite their overall weirdness, you grow to like and care about each of the characters.
What I actually liked best was that there were several instances where I thought I had reached the end of the book - only to discover that it was another plot turn and the story continued to yet another fabulous entertaining chapter.
I almost didn't buy this book because it sounded too weird. What a mistake that would have been. This is definitely one of the best books I have ever read, EVER. You can read it on many levels, think about it - or not - be surprised and entertained and moved. Trust me. Get this one.
This is just not her best book - I have listened to and enjoyed all the others, but this one is not on the same level.
It's OK - noone can hit a home run every time. Her other books are great.
I didn't even listen to the end.
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