I love historical novels, and am particularly interested in the WWII era, so I really wanted to like this book. I listened for about 4 hours, and just couldn't bring myself to finish it. The author has an very wordy writing style that makes it seem as if she attended too many creative writing classes. The characters seem overly "dark," and, as another reviewer noted, fall into typical stereotypes. It's almost as if the author tried to make the book more edgy and violent than necessary, (dark plots with a lot of emotional angst are "artsy," after all) which detracts significantly from what could have been an excellent plot. I found the overall "atmosphere" of the book to be overdone . The narration is not great either. A big disappointment.
This story is a timeless coming of age story which also introduces the reader to the life and struggles of an immigrant working family. It is not always a happy story, and the author does a great job portraying what life would really have been like for a family such as Francie's. Unfortunately, I felt the narrator did a very poor job performing this story. She spoke in a flat, boring monotone for much of the book. Although she performed a Brooklyn accent very well, the majority of the book is written in the third person, so her lack of intonation really drags the story down. Sadly, I became so frustrated with the narration that I couldn't finish listening to this wonderful story.
I most enjoyed the characters of Francie and her mother Katie, for their perseverance and hope.
The narrator of this book needs to be able to speak in a younger person's voice, and bring the story to life with excellent intonation and interpretation of the author's words. This narrator failed to do that by a long shot.
No, this book is a classic and stands on it's own.
The sample portion of the book that is available to readers prior to purchase does NOT sound like narrator of the entire book. Since the sample text is part of the prologue, is it possible that the performer for the sample is different than the performer for the main body of the book? If I had heard the actual narrator, I never would have purchased this book.
This is one of the best listens I've ever downloaded from Audible. Although technically a young adult book, I was immediately hooked on it, and luckily there is an equally fantastic sequel! The book has a funny and feisty heroine, a lot of great historical background, an intricate mystery plot that will keep you guessing, and a splash of delightful romance. The narrator is fabulous as well. You can't go wrong!
This is the second book in "The Agency" series (the first is "A Spy in the House") and it as one of the most entertaining listens I've found yet. It tells the continued story of 17-year old Mary Quinn, and adventurous and progressive young woman living in Victorian London. On the surface, Mary appears to be a respectable young teacher at Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls, but she really is a secret agent employed by an all-female detective agency. Mary takes an assignment which requires her to go undercover as a 12 year old boy to investigate a suspicious death at a London building site. Mary has to hold her own in this rough and tumble environment, and although she manages with skill, wit, and toughness, she is forced to relive some of her difficult past. Also, she finds herself once again crossing paths with James Easton, an old flame who she thought was safely away in India. The descriptions of Victorian London and the often brutal life of an unskilled laborer are fascinating, and the complex unfolding of the details of the mystery will keep you on your toes. But what makes this book so wonderful is the evolving relationship of Mary and James. James is fascinated by Mary's untraditional attitudes and lifestyle, and Mary tumbles head over heals for him. She struggles with her intensifying feelings for James, and the knowledge that her work as a secret agent makes romance impossible. The flirty banter between James and Mary is absolutely irresistible -- sexy and delicious while at the same time being perfectly "clean." Mary is a refreshing change from the typical female character who gives up everything for the guy. With Mary as it's feisty, complex and endearing main character, this book is great for teens, but as an adult, I also found it wonderfully entertaining.
I really enjoy well-researched historical novels, and also enjoy art history, so I couldn't wait to get started on this book. I was completely disappointed, and although I really wanted to like it, I quit after completing the first two parts. It quickly became quite clear to me that this book was written by a male author who is unable to create female characters with depth, and who do not fall into typical stereotypes. Also, despite the potentially fabulous plot, the author couldn't resist including graphic rape scenes, detailed descriptions of random sexual encounters (the author's own private fantasies, perhaps?) , and battle scenes with excruciatingly predictable gory details. I realize that the time period in which this book is set was a violent one, but none of these scenes contribute to the plot whatsoever, and are at times so random as to be laughable. (Example: Tom's wife dies giving birth to his son, and literally two hours later, he finds himself in the sack with a woman who he met once before, and who just happened to be walking through the chilly woods, naked underneath her cloak, looking for him. Please.) This book is overly long, overly predictable, and overly violent. Could have been great but missed the mark big time. For those of you who are looking for an alternative listen, set in a similar time in England, and with a similar genre, try "The Illuminator" by Brenda Rickman Vantrease, also available through Audible. All of the historical detail and a terrific plot, with none of the violence and degradation of women.
This book was a real disappointment. The characters seemed superficial and hard to relate to. The author develops the main character, Janet, into such a spineless victim of fate throughout her life that I found it hard to have much empathy for her. Also, the entire book is stuffed full of amazingly simplistic stereotypes -- overly strict ministers, naive single mothers hoping that the fathers of their babies will miraculously want to share their lives, a free-wheeling married man interested only in sex, abusive adoptive parents, and a too-good-to-be true reunion of an adopted child and her biological mother after 25 years of being separated. At times, all of this bordered on the ridiculous, and the only reason I finished listening to the book is because I used one credit on it! Also of serious concern is the very negative way adoption is presented in this book. Adoptive parents are portrayed as unloving and dangerous, with only superficial feelings for their child, and the biological mother is painted as a desperate victim. This is not a book to be shared with an family built by adoption, and I think the negative stereotypes of adoption could potentially be very upsetting for an adoptive child. Nadia May was an excellent narrator as usual, and her narration was the only thing that made this book worth listening to. If you're looking for a sensitive book about adoption, stay away from this one.
This is the first of several books featuring Elizabethean sleuth Ursula Blanchard. The whole series is delightful. Nadia May is a fantastic narrator, and brings the characters alive. What's great about this series is that the author picks a historically accurate event to focus on (in this book, it is the mysterious death of Sir Robin Dudley's wife), but about which modern historians do not have "all the answers." She then weaves a complex story line presenting what possibly could have happened. Heroine Ursula is a thoroughly likeable and amusing character, and if she seems too "modern" sometimes, who cares? This is wonderful "cloaks and daggers" stuff, complete with secret documents, court intrigue, and complicated clues to "who did it." If you like historical fiction, and want a really fun and entertaining way to spend a rainy evening, you can't go wrong with this series.
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