Trollope is a master at characterisation. Every one of the main characters are three dimensional and very real even if they aren't very modern - 150 years hasn't changed human character very much at all - we all could feel Lily Dales suffering, Johnny Eames pain, we know self-centred people like Lady Alexandrina and bad boys like Crosbie. The fact we can empathise and identify with the characters shows Trollope's genius.
The fact that I wanted to slap some sense into Lily Dale also shows that genius - and believe me she did need a good slap - we've all been hurt in love but she took the hurt to another level! Her martyrdom so annoyed me and made for a very frustrating heroine in my eyes.
Nevertheless I do hope that someone makes a good movie of this book for it needs to be done. Its a complete story in itself but listening to all the books in the series does make it all the more enjoyable - characters from previous books reappear and their stories continue. Its rather like catching up with a rarely seen friend and hearing their news.
I'm looking forward to the last in the series and then I shall launch into the Pallisers - Trollope is providing me with a feast which I am loving.
Jan Morris wrote an excellent three volume series on the British Empire which I loved and read in very quick succession. I expected this book to be a history of Venice in much the same style with lots of info but amusing at the same time. It actually was a personal recollection along with some snippets of historical facts.
It was interesting and would be even more so either before you go to Venice or after you've come back but as I won't have the opportunity of visiting for quite a while yet I was left wanting more.
There were two stories in one but neither one was really that interesting. The repeated toing and frowing between the story of the narrators grandmother's life in India and her own travels tracing her grandmother's life was not well handled - I'm not sure if it was the narrators fault, the directors fault or the author's fault - it jarred and I was left disappointed. I'm glad I gave it a go but it was not what I wanted, expected or hoped for. It was rather an anticlimax to what has been a most interesting delve into Indian history and literature. I felt compelled to move on after this book.
I've read a little Twain and some of it I've really enjoyed but his humorous short stories have left me cold. In a previous collection I read story about a duel he described and it had me in stitches but those stories I listened to in this collection were just not very funny.
I am disappointed and will stick to his more serious writing from now on. That I still enjoy.
This was the second Jared Diamond I've read and the first in his series of three. It was written in the early 90's and while some things have changed, the overall message is very much the same and of course the history is the same history.
The conclusions he draws are pessimistic and a cause for worry in the 90's, and they still are, but I do think that more people are hearing the ecologists warnings and taking heed - I sure hope so for his forecast of doom for half our species worldwide is a hell of an inheritance to hand over.
Its a book that makes you stop and think and hopefully react too - it has me and I hope it does you too. Highly recommended and should be compulsory reading for leaders of nations and corporate decision makers!
This is a HUGE book - at 80 hrs long its a commitment but for your money its excellent value as there are not just one story but many stories all of them well written and reasonably well told by Vikas Adam (although his british accent was woeful). There were slightly dull passages, there were incredibly exciting passages and there were boring bits that connected the stories.
M M Kaye published this as just the one massive book but in reality it could easily have been 4 big books. I think it would have been a better tale if it had been 4 books as the dull passages would have had to be more interesting to keep the reader reading.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and the final story of the Second Afghan war and the mission to Kabul was wonderfully written and terribly exciting - as a piece of descriptive writing it was amongst the best I heard. Sadly the end was predictable, soppy and very abrupt and it left me feeling disappointed that the ends weren't more appropriately tied off.
I'd recommend this book to those interested in life in the British Raj of 1870s, romantics who are looking for more than a bodice ripper and those who enjoy a long tale with lots of characters.
Everyone has heard about the Vanderbilts and their wealth but I was awed by their totally obscene wealth and their capacity to spend fortunes on mansions that were not noted for their architecture nor their contents just for their opulence and flashy luxury.
The original Vanderbilt made the majority of his money not by hard work but by manipulating the stocks and shares he held and this was how the family continued to hold onto and increase their incredible fortunes.
By and large the vast sums of money didn't seem to bring them happiness - there were famous custody cases, divorces and scandals and other than becoming the leaders of New York society none of them seemed to have a good time with their money.
It made interesting listening but at times the numbers and dates all got a bit confusing and the dollar amounts so vast that I had to repeat them outloud to comprehend them before gasping.
I enjoyed it but I sat there clasping my pearls at my throat at the sheer amounts of money spent on unimportant things while there were so many in great need and so little of their money was spent in philanthropy.
One to listen and gasp at and thank the lord that the gilded age has past!
I have listened to several biographies of historical figures that history and common knowledge has represented as nasty, unpleasant and possibly evil. Modern research has however revealed that they have been misrepresented by history and while not necessarily the nicest of people they really weren't as bad as they previously were painted.
This book rewrites Genghis Khan's historical legacy. He was ruthless but it was explained why he was so and in context it make sense. You wouldn't want him as a friend, you certainly wouldn't want him as an enemy but you have to admire his skill at administering a huge empire.
How after years of conquering he settled down to consolidate what he'd won and how he set up trade between the different areas of his empire, how it was all recorded, how information and innovations were spread from the pacific to the mediterranean was impressive to say the least.
Occasionally the history got a bit bogged down but overall it was fascinating and revealing. I won't be racing off to Ulan Bator but I do now have a better appreciation of what he did and how he has changed the modern world.
I didn't realise it when I bought it that this was the third in a trilogy however it stood up to being read as an individual book. His insights were most illuminating and once pointed out its difficult not to think that they are so obvious as to be common sense and why hadn't I thought of it myself.
The conclusion which was the conclusion to all three books ran for 90 mins or more. I found it so interesting and informative that I listened to it twice. I didn't want to misunderstand or forget what was said. A very enlightening piece of research and writing.
The Fates of Human Societies is the subheading of this book and it grabbed me. I've recently listened to histories of several societies and I thought this might be interesting in doing some comparisons. What I wasn't ready for was a gallop through the history of man from our first bands of hunter gatherers wandering out of Africa to detailed explanations of why Eurasia was by its geography destined to be more successful than either the Americas and Africa.
If you had told me I was going to be left gaping by linguistic analysis, natural experiments or the result of reviews by evolutionary biologists I wouldn't have believed you but I am agog as what I've heard and the implications it has meant for all the histories of different societies.
I am still digesting what I've heard and I know I shall be back to listen to parts if not all of it again. This book is highly recommended if you want to know why Eurasia came to dominate the world and to understand early civilisations destinies from their geography and biology. It really is compelling listening.
This is a "Boy's Own Adventure" but wonderfully told, an India long gone captured in word painting that was masterly.
This is Rudyard Kipling's best book and it is a masterpiece - in a few words he can describe a scene, a look or a character. I've never been to India but I feel like after listening to this I know what to expect.
For younger boys it is an adventure but it goes far beyond that for adult readers as it works on so many levels.
Sam Dastor, who read The Siege of Krishnapur and didn't do the best of jobs doing so, did a marvellous job of all the characters in this book. It was compelling listening. I loved it and know I shall listen to it again and listen to more Kipling as a result of listening to this book.
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