I expected a listing of common and popular expressions and their sources and meanings being explained and expanded. I hoped that some form of connection would be made and that each one would lead into a story and the explanation of another expression. Unfortunately it was read in strictly alphabetical order with no connecting passages. It ended up being a very flat listen although I did actually learn some interesting things even if it still was effectively just a list.
Not really recommended - it could have been done so much better.
Bel Ami starts as a penniless returned soldier and by the end of the book after affairs and marriages he is one of the most powerful men in Paris if not France. He tramples on all he meets, money and position become everything and his sexual gratification is the cherry on the top.
The women in the story seem to be strong but really are weak and bend to his every whim and it shows that the story is basically a story of human desire, weakness and determination. Maupassant was well know for his excellent characterisation and in Bel Ami the characters are brilliantly portrayed.
Listening to my favourite Maupassant has really stimulated my hunger for more French literature which I have read extensively in my 30s. However, having it read to me gives it a whole extra layer of richness and complexity (and correct pronounciation of the French names and places!).
This book is highly recommended - listen to it before you see the film. The movie has been given a bad review but if you go in knowing the story and the main characters you might get more from it. Certainly you will go in understanding better the times and morals and be less judgemental. I hope to see the movie myself shortly. Standby - I might add to this review after I have seen it!
This was an interesting book but not the easiest of books to listen to unless you had a map of Paris in front of you most of the time. I know Paris quite well but even I was sometimes confused and was grateful that Google Maps were there at my fingertips.
It certainly showed that Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann didn't lack balls, as to make the boulevards that Paris is now so famous for, they had to carve up medieval and historic central Paris to put in the much needed thoroughfares and to make Paris into a modern city. Really only a despot and a single minded administrator could do it and thank God they did. This is the story about how they did it.
I enjoyed it but the narrator wasn't the best - he had a strange accent (English clearly wasn't his first language), he paused in the middle of sentences, but his pronunciation of the French names of people, areas and roads were a delight to hear akin to music.
Recommended to those that are interested in Paris, Urban Planning and understanding French History from 1848 - 1870.
I expected this book to be filled with amusing stories of goings on both up stairs and down stairs during the war. It wasn't that at all. Each chapter had a main character with a story to tell of war life that involved either Claridges, The Dorchester, The Ritz or The Savoy.
Once I got over my disappointment that I wasn't going to be spending the time being amused I actually really enjoyed the interesting stories being told of the communist storming of the Dorchester and the post war strikes at the Savoy or the gay bar in the basement of the Ritz.
Through it all the duchesses continued to stay in their suites often even during the air raids and ate very well in the dining rooms - purchased food wasn't on coupons and was dependant on availability so pheasant and quail and woodcock continued to be roasted and eaten by the rich.
An interesting book with some humour but most of it was exhibiting the typical stiff upper lip stuff that went on during the war.
This is an interesting concept - the short stories are real cases in history and Donald Thomas has put Sherlock Holmes in as the detective that solves the mysteries. I really enjoyed it as it put a whole new level of complexity into what are often complex stories.
Well narrated by John Telfer again and I would recommend this book to history buffs as well as Holmes fans.
A long time a go I read a collection of Sherlock Holmes mysteries in a big hard cover book that I borrowed from the library of my Great Aunt. I am sure that it was a first edition but where it is now I have no idea. I remember being riveted with the action and confounded by the mystery and amazed at Sherlock's observations.
I was no less riveted, confounded and amazed by this book. I can highly recommend it and plan to read more modern interpretations of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. They appeal to my gothic nature without the need of zombies and the like.
This is a treatise, or maybe it was a PhD dissertation, whatever it was it was ever so learned and made my eyes rotate with pain into the back of my head. Most of that pain was at the murderous narration by Sean Schemmel - if you are going to have a learned text narrated at least get some one who can read long words and gets geographical names correct. The other pain was the names of the tribes and leaders listed ad nauseam and the fact that a pertinent point was repeated several times just so that in the stream of learned stuff you didn't miss the salient point.
I persisted and listened to all 3 volumes as I am interested in the topic but I shall not need to delve any further into the migration of the germanic hords in the first millenium AD any more - I have heard the definitive history now and can relax in the knowledge that my history of the fall of the roman empire is complete.
I was initially disappointed with this book - 3000 years is a lot to cover and the years BC were very confusing and not very exciting listening. I felt that the wars between the different greek colonies ended up being a list that just baffled me.
I was particularly interested in the Norman occupation and that didn't disappoint and really from then on it was well written and held my interest.
Poor Sicily has had many invasions and masters. It has been included in several empires and ruled by kings and emperors that lived far away. None of it really changed the character of the sicilians themselves.
The latter part of the book concerned itself with the unification of Italy and the mafia which made most interesting listening but it took a lot of getting to.
I do recommend this book - persist with it and you will get to some hidden gems and nuggets of interesting information.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there is little depth in this book as it is called A Brief History of Britain but I was disappointed at how little depth there was.
I find the conquest and then subjugation of the Britons and Anglo Saxons by the Normans fascinating - the way british collective personality seemed to develop at this time, the tenacity of the english language and the development of democratic government is so interesting but its not discussed in much depth which was frustrating.
The Wars of the Roses was dealt with very curtly and again this was disappointing.
I recommend this book as a primer - theres so much more to discover if you scratch the surface - this book really doesn't scratch very deeply at all.
I know only a little about the history of Britain before the Norman conquest and now I understand why - very little is actually known. There are a few chronicles that have historical information and this is what this book tends to regurgitate.
Unfortunately this book as a result ends up being a listing of kings and their reigns with brief suggested activities they undertook while on the throne. Nothing is known for certain until after 900ish and then all the kings seemed be named Ethel this or Ethel that so it got very confusing.
I know about as much about Anglo Saxon Britain as I did before I listened to this book so I can only really recommend this book to someone who knows nothing about Anglo Saxon Britain and has a interest in learning something about it!
I've listened to several histories relating to India and the British Raj recently and when the subtitle to this book was Husband Hunting in the Raj I had to listen to it. I wasn't disappointed.
While it focuses on how to find a husband in 1920s and 30s India it was in reality a social history of how the British lived in India - it was fascinating. Nothing was left out and its amazing that the British lasted as long as they did - the only reason I think they did was the gin, the club and the inherited stiff upper lip! Some of the stories told by actual wives to be were hysterical and totally amazing - tiger hunts and engagements, treks and ticks, dances and faux pas.
Its a fantastic snapshot of a time now long gone but for those that lived it and passed on their stories thank you for sharing it and congratulations on snagging a man. I personally feel sorry for those that didn't manage to do so going back to Britain labelled "Returned Empty". Such a sad thing to be labelled but so apt.
I highly recommended book both for the content and the delightful narration by Greta Scacchi. I shall search out other De Courcy books as she has a lovely way of telling a tale.
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