I found this book to be a wonderfully diverting, amusing listen. It turned out to be quite touching, too, and as a dog lover, I enjoyed the dog angle. But dogs don't hog the spotlight. Instead, the author shines a warm, compassionate light on the foibles of her characters. I particularly enjoyed the reader. I am sorry not to remember who it was.
The negative listener reviews nearly convinced me not to listen. But my sister had read the book and was so affected that she called needing someone to talk to about it. Having been prepared for something awful to happen, I could let the book happen, to be carried along by the narrator whose voice and tone I liked very much. The book is deeply affecting and haunting--the contrast between the palpable love the narrator conveys in the voices of Beatrice and Virgil and the horror of the story increase its effect. I cannot say I completely understand the ending of the book; but I remember having the same feeling at the end of Life of Pi. The author almost lulls you into a feeling of safety and then springs a trap. There is no escape. Suddenly life is revealed for what it really is. You cannot pretend or sleep through it. To survive, you have to wake up. And even this may not be enough. But that is what is most true. It is, I think, the author's intention not to make things easy. And it is the nature of parables to reveal their meanings only over time. So I encourage anyone interested in Yann Martel's work to take a listen. Like the hero of the story, I miss Beatrice and Virgil. You may, too.
Someone suggested this book as an amusing summer read for our book group. Not amusing at all. Simply annoying. Pages and pages are devoted to lists. Once it might be slightly amusing, but the technique is used twice, thrice, 4x, 5x, and more. So it becomes simply boring. And annoying. How a character who, at the beginning of the book, is working toward a PhD at Cambridge, yet styles herself as having fewer brains than a stereotypical bubblebrain, is supposed to be believeable is beyond me. And her obsession with a syncophantic bore is also unbelieveable. Not funny, just annoying.
The book sounds as if written by a group of friends who thought themselves very funny but forgot to check outside their own group. My sister was the smartest of us all, throwing the book across the room at page 12. The rest of us are simply angry that we'd spend money on it.
Usually, I gobble books. Not this one. Exquisitely written, it begs the reader to pause, to ponder, to wonder, to marvel. So delicate, like leaves rustling in a light breeze. As the narrator ponders his life, so you cannot help but ponder your own. Here is a book full of spirit, a sermon if you like, without the preaching down to the reader. Instead it is an invitation to think with compassion about oneself, one's failings, one's relationships with God and man. Amazing.
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