Being at across road myself, I downloaded this book based on the reviews written by other audible listeners and was not disappointed with the emotionally intelligent way Wm.Paul Young paints the unravelling of Tony's psyche as he makes the journey toward his own demise. There are philosophical, psychological, social, moral and spiritual confrontations all the way. I was seeking a read like this to accompany my own inner reflections at a time of upheaval and change in my own life.
However, as a sceptic of organised religion, I found the domination of Christian religious icons, that is God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, difficult. The fact that these characters were depicted as ordinary people made it easier, but I just couldn't help thinking that the book would have an even wider appeal if Christianity wasn't so blatantly the dominating guiding spiritual force on this man's journey.
I now know Grace so well, she could be a sister and her story is pretty amazing. I enjoyed "The House at Riverton" very much. It satisfied the 'Downtown Abbey" in me. I can picture the Riverton estate, the rooms, halls, servants quarters, the clothes, the faces and expressions of it's inhabitants, their moods, quirks, laughter, joys and tragedies.
A clever plot keeps the pivotal secret from the reader until the very end and despite it being predictable, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for it to be revealed.
My only criticism is that it could have been an hour or so shorter, the tension was built to such a height in the final hour, I almost had to fast forward to the end. Perhaps it was the mood I was in at the time but this fact made me take a star from this worthy read for those who love period drama/tragedy. It probably deserves 4 stars.
And what a tragedy it is!
Having only recently joined ancestry online to try to find answers to the mystery of my fathers early years, I flushed with curiosity and with irony, when I realised that this novel was about an unravelling of Nell's life, by her granddaughter , Cassandra.
Not only that, to then discover that the author is an Australian and that the story is woven in part in Queensland, well, I was taken in, hook, line and sinker.
Caroline Lee gave voice to this tragic, moving story, her characters sketched as finely as those by Nathan, husband of Rose as he illustrated Elisa's fairy tails.
The story is so entwined, so rich with mystery, each chapter shedding a little more light, adding colour bit by bit until, at the end the story of Nell's life is finally understood and she is free and at last 'home'.
This book was recommended by my daughter's partner. As I was listening, I came across person after person who had read it in their late teens, early twenties. I am in my mid 50's so I felt a little ashamed that I'd missed this one! I even came across a waitress in a coffee shop in Sydney (a young girl) who was so excited to see me reading/listening to her favourite book!
It is now dated in many ways and it was, at times, important that I kept my mind focused on the era in which it was written. The utopian ideals of the people who have escaped the mindless world that they used to inhabit, still today need to be explored in a ( I hate to say this) 'best practise' sort of way before I m convinced that their way of life will work long term.
Despite this, the story was great, the characters engaging, likeable, hateable, annoying, charming, and engaging.
This is a time piece that needs to be read by all who have an interest in the ways in which our world has been viewed over the decades of the 20th century.
As an Australian born at around the same time as Owen Meany, this book filled in much of what television and news failed to depict about America as I was growing up. The history of religious attitudes and political leanings, social mores and community attitudes kept me interested and listening. I must admit that it took me a while to warm to Owens "voice" and it was only on my second attempt that I was able to accept that Owens' Adams apple was fixed and he had to sound the way he did and I needed to be tolerant, non judgmental and open to his sensibility and intelligence.
The friendship and love that is related in this story is wonderful.
The political leanings, particularly regarding Nixon and Reagan, gave me hope that the USA has a collection of people who really do understand the nature of politics in their country. I truly hope that this book will encourage voters to VOTE. In Australia, voting is compulsory and it seems abhorrent to me that the USA does not adopt this fundamental piece of democratic process, so that a leader can be elected by ALL the people, even those who feel powerless to make a difference.
Arthur and Kell are two characters I want in my life. I am richer for having met them in this novel and want more of them. I want to listen to more of their lives unfolding.
The raw truth of who they are, so beautifully scripted by Liz Moore and so deeply felt in the voices of Kirby Heyborne and Keth Szarabajka bought tears to my eyes as this sad and melancholy tale of love, loneliness, tragedy and devotion made its way into my heart.
Arthur's weight is palpable from the beginning and his unabashed ownership of it, his love and hate and shame of it allowed me to know what it feels like to be covered with so many layers of excess weight.
Kell's love for his mother and the tragedy he endures because of it, is so moving, so honest, it brings my tears to the surface again.
How does a hidden history in our family affect the life we live. What do the secrets do to us, unbidden. Sebastian Barry writes beautifully, poignantly and with a depth that, in the end made me put my hand to my mouth to supress the gasp as the secrets are unravelled and the truth is finally revealed. There is 100 years of Irish history in this novel, seen through the eyes of Rosanne as she writes down what has never been told of her life. Then there is Dr Green, Rosanne's psychiatrist, who is trying to unwrap her silence gently, respectfully and with dignity.
I am deeply moved by this book and give thanks to Stephen Hogan for giving a voice to both Rosanne and Dr Green. His narration could not have been better and as I listened, his voice became my own voice as the story evolved and stirred the tragedy of Rosanne and of those who had pulled the strings of her life.
I have a personal interest in the history of WW1 & WW11 and devour literature that paints a picture of the events that shaped these episodes of human history. I downloaded Tree of Smoke mostly because I liked the title, but also because of the reviews I'd read.
I was not prepared. This book left me ashamed that I have neglected to acquire an adequate picture of the events in Vietnam, the evolution of the capacity of humans to remain standing in a world that rarely makes a distinction between what is right and wrong, regardless of politics.
I will be listening to this book again, I feel I must.
Haruki Murakami seems to have an endless imagination! In this novel he manages to create an intense examination of the meaning of 'mind' in a world ruled by the control of information collection. At times I needed to go back and re-listen to paragraphs as the deep and oblique and sometimes beautiful images float from his words and touch something deep inside.
This is no ordinary story and if you have ever questioned what it means to be 'mindful', both literally and psychologically, this book will take you away.
Being a lover of long, dark, eccentric literature, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle met my desire to be surprised, perplexed, confounded and stirred in mind and soul. Rupert Degas enriched the story with his characterisations, with the exception of May, whose pitch I found hard to handle and needed to turn the volume down when she was speaking. Despite this, I can see how her voice was appropriate in the context of the book.
Haruki Murakami creates a world were a normal day morphs into an underworld of inner questioning, self doubt and moral unreason. At times so sickeningly real, I needed to turn the story off to brace myself for the end of a chapter, this story speaks to the parts of ourselves that lay hidden in the recesses of our minds...It speaks also of love, friendship and connection, the lengths we go to for those close to us.
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