This novel is a remarkable achievement. It is like looking at an intricately pieced quilt, one in which every thread has been braided by hand and dipped in liquid gold. Rarely have I read a novel in which even minor characters have rich, fully realized pasts and deep interior lives. The story is long, but Tolstoy is not wasteful with words. Every sentence tells. The narrator is lively, with a pleasant, soothing voice. I worried whether I would be able to stick with five 7-plus-hour takes, but I was sorry to see it end.
I can't believe I hadn't read this until now. Charles Portis writes in a way that would make taxes or legislative bills fascinating. His dialogue, settings, characters -- especially his characters -- ring absolutely true. Is there anyone more appealing in fiction than the brave, formidable Mattie Ross? The film versions just make her feisty, which is nice, but she is so much wiser and morally complex than the child she appears to be. The Cohen Bros. did a very good job with this story; the John Wayne version seems a cartoon set against the real narrative. Neither movie does True Grit justice. You miss all those wonderful, expertly chosen words. And who knew Donna Tartt, a fine novelist herself, had such an engaging, Southern reading style? Really, please, buy this immediately and listen to it.
Well written and crafted thriller, which uses the classic chestnut of the remote village, with residents who distrust nosy outsiders, to great effect. You think this is going to be an old-fashioned horror, with restless ghosts and forbidden, pagan rites still practiced by the weird locals. In fact, it's a modern, psychological drama, its twists attributable to very human fears and desires. Some of the crimes may be too modern for certain listeners: If you are bothered by stories that involve hurting children or torture, be aware that this narrative takes a few dark turns. Nothing overly graphic, but it does go there, if not all the way there.
There are two mysteries here, one historical, one contemporary, each with its related protagonist, a compassionate Spanish ex-priest and a scrappy, Australian mathematician named Samantha Flood. Sam Flood is almost worth the price of admission alone -- she's that appealing.
Great reading by Gordon Griffin, who differentiates the many characters with vocal distinctions and quirks. I had no trouble keeping the large cast straight.
My only complaint is that the epilogue, while intriguing, ties up the threads too neatly. Still, the rest of the story is so good that I'm willing to forgive Reginald Hill for this over-zealous bit of plot writing.
This is an exhaustive study of biological history and evolution, as it relates to continental drift, cladistics and other off-shoots and counterpoints to Darwin's theory. I had never heard of the field of biogeography until I listened to this book and now I feel very comfortable with the subject. The author begins with Darwin and then looks at each successive theory in turn, ultimately disproving many or tempering their strict stances with alternative possibilities. De Queiroz builds his case brick by scientific brick, until he returns to Darwin, who first suggested that many, if not most, of the breaks and bizarre pan-continental connections in the biological narrative could be attributed to seemingly impossible journeys across oceans by species. Darwin did several experiments but didn't live long enough to prove his suppositions. De Queiroz, however, with the benefit of DNA testing, cites numerous examples of plants and animals that could not have reached certain shores any other way except by ocean travel.
I found this book illuminating and entertaining. I've read Darwin, but I am not a scientist, so some of the theoretical explanations went a bit too deep for me. But de Queiroz works hard to engage the non-scientist and his enthusiasm for his subject is hard to resist. He brings to life many interesting historical characters, such as the gentleman-explorer who influenced Darwin and the passionate, if wrong-headed, Leon Croizat, who thought Darwin "congenitally not a thinker."
The reader does a great job with material which, while very well written, can be dense in its exhaustive detail.
I bought this book on a whim and I'm very glad I did. I learned a lot.
This is one of my favorite Austen novels and I loved the BBC Radio 4 version with Juliet Stevenson in the role of Anne Elliot. She seems to understand the heroine's inner conflicts better than anyone else. Stevenson brings all of her sensitivity and training as an actress to this reading. Simply beautifully done.
In every Austen novel, there are the silly characters whom Austen meant to be comical, but whose persistent idiocy irritate me to the point where I just skip over their parts. They are almost always women, the worst being Mrs. Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, although Miss Bates in Emma and Mrs. Jennings in Sense & Sensibility are similar, if lesser, annoyances. But in Persuasion, the silly character happens to be a man, Anne's father Mr. Elliot, and I find that, far from irritating, Mr. Elliot is one of the funniest and most ridiculous characters in Austen's fiction. Stevenson seems to appreciate him, too, for she reads his part with relish, infusing him with all the pompous self-importance Austen intended. I found myself stopping the performance and replaying those parts two and three times. Great laughs.
Juliet Stevenson infuses pathos and melancholy into a dreamy, naive protagonist who becomes entrapped in what proves to be a rather mundane murder. The story is told first-person from the protagonist's viewpoint and she addresses her thoughts to a unnamed "you," the man with whom she engages in an improbable affair. For most of the novel, the real mystery is figuring out who the man really is, his motivations and his true feelings for the protagonist. We don't even know his name until more than two-thirds of the way into the story. I found the device wore very thin and I probably would have bailed were it not for Stevenson's expert reading. As it turned out, I am glad I stuck with it because I do think the novel had some intriguing elements and the writing is excellent in parts, with interesting characterizations. By the end it was clear Doughty meant this to be, in part, a play on the techniques of storytelling. At one point in the protagonist's trial, she observes, "I realized that all one needs for a story is a collection of facts." Yes, that and few more things, and maybe especially a consummate actress like Juliet Stevenson reading your stuff.
I love Neil Gaiman, I really do, but I could not keep reading this. This is his "revised" version, which adds something like 20,000 more words to the narrative. Really. Too much. George Guidall is a good narrator and gamely tackles the often difficult text with strong characterizations and lively conversations, but it wasn't enough. I just found the story about demons and angels battling in the Midwest frustrating, weird and alienating.
I felt guilty giving up but I did. Life's too short. So sue me.
I'm a big Toby Stephens fan, so picked this because he is the reader. But I found I liked the story, too, which is set in a fantastical ancient world which may or may not be prehistoric Britain.
Michelle Paver is a popular British children's writer and this marks the start of a new series for her.
The plot zips along apace, with many cliff-hangers, figurative and literal. Altogether an entertaining read. I'll be looking for the sequels.
Philip Pullman reinterprets classic tales, some not as well known as others, with interesting results. The main problem here is the portrayal of males and females in condemning traditional roles. Girls are too often weak victims unable to think for themselves or they are conniving, evil witches; boys are rambunctious, impetuous and too quick to fight. These faults lie with the origin of the tales and not with Pullman, but you have to question his desire to retell such outmoded ideas in the first place. This is not to say that children shouldn't hear these stories. But it might be best to offer them in context and perhaps with gentle discussion about how we see people differently today.
Sam West does an amazing job, as always. He's a top-notch narrator. I love his voice.
A well-written fantasy/dystopia story for middle-grade readers. Samuel West is an excellent narrator. He interprets the story with wit and verve. All the characters, and there are many, are distinct and easy to recognize through his many subtle voice variations. Beautifully done.
We get Scots reading Scottish writers, English reading English writers and Americans reading Americans, so why not Canadians reading Canadians? Then at least we'd have someone who knows how to pronounce Canadian cities and towns. I cringed every time this narrator pronounced Montreal as MON-treal (American pronunciation), instead of Mun-tree-ALL (English Canadian) -- I was cringing a lot because the complex story has a plot twist that involves Quebec.
Narrator has quite a few goofs on place names, the worst being pronouncing the Ontario town of Guelph as "Gelf" instead of "GWelf." But he also had odd ways of saying perfectly ordinary words: "umbrellla" was UM-brella, and "coaxing" was co-AXE-ing. (Heard that one on my morning run and almost tripped in disbelief.) His general reading style is robotic and bizarre, like someone who doesn't understand punctuation. His inflection would suggest sentences had ended before they actually had, or he runs on in the same monotone as if a string of sentences were one long, single sentence. It goes on like this for 11 unabridged hours.
I've listened to more than 200 audiobooks over several years and I'm usually easy-going about the narration. But this one left me feeling irritated and cheated of a good story -- not to mention the price of a credit. I hate to sound dreary and mean, but I must say that I will never purchase another audiobook narrated by Christopher Prince.
Marc Strange is a good writer, with a keen sense of plot and interesting characters. His work deserves a better reading than this.
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