I thought At Home in Mitford was entertaining. It is a little slow in parts but that is to be expected in a story about small town life. The characters are lovable and the story line is interesting. The author manages to tell a story with a little mystery and romance all the while keeping things very innocent. I would recommend this book if you are tired of (or offended by) blood and sex and are looking for some innocent story telling.
Stephen King is a masterful storyteller. Similarly to The Stand, he imagines an external force that has a profound impact on the lives of the people in his story. Then he writes about their reactions and experiences. His novels are more about the people than the wildly imaginative event(s) or circumstance(s) that serves as the catalyst to his story. And that is why the poor narration is such a crime. First, Raul Esparza interjects unintended personality and character traits into the characters with his voice. In the case of Maine citizens, he uses a sleepy, yawning drawl that makes every character sound like a simpleton. Furthermore, his accent is incorrect and distracting. A (very) bad imitation is far worse than reading without the accent. Additionally, Esparza's cadence was extremely awkward. At times he would read quickly, and then trail off or dramatically slow down in mid-sentence. He would read some sentences as if they were questions when they weren't or as if he were personally wondering about the meaning of the words he was reading. It was worse than listening to a middle school-aged child who had learned how to read without stuttering and stammering but hadn't mastered the art of reading aloud with proper tone or inflection.
I have listened to a lot of audiobooks, and I have never heard such poor narration. Out of curiosity I listened to samples of other novels narrated by Esparza. The short clips that I listened to didn't sound bad. So how could he have been so bad in this performance? It almost makes me wonder if Esparza was intentionally trying sabotage the book.
If I had picked up the actual book I would have been turned off by the statisticts about violent crimes against women in Europe that started off every chapter. The story was very disturbing and chaulk full of detalied descriptions of the sex crimes commited. The mystery of the missing Harriet was interesting and I only kept listening to see if justice would be served...I was dissapointed.
I really enjoyed this story. The characters are rich, you are given a full range of people who could be literary "good-guys" or "bad-guys". Their choices are interesting and the plot is full of turns and even suspense. I would have given this book five starts except a few things bothered me. First the author used quite a bit of foul language in the characters speech. If you are not bothered by four letter words you probably wont notice and enjoy the book just fine. Secondly, to make the antagonist even more sinister the author included several rape scenes with the antagonist enjoying his cruelty. The imaging was disturbing and again, if you are not sensitive to these kinds of scenes it wont be a problem. Over all the story was fantastic and a really interesting read. The book is very long and satisfying. I thought I would get bored but it was great. The reader also does a great job of bringing the different characters to life with different voices.
What I didnt like:
The Narrator, she read like she was 1/2 asleep and kept on swallowing into the microphone which was very distracting. She also seemed to take long pauses in the middle of a sentence.
The story was pretty slow and dwelt primarily on Chinese court ediquet. Even at the few sensual and suspensful parts the narrator made me feel like I was falling asleep.
What I liked:
The historical acuracy. The book followed true historical events very well. (Maybe that is why the story was so slow)
This isnt the most entertaining Austin story out there. The tale is pretty drawn out and the romance and suspence are very subdued compared to her other works. I did enjoy the story but found myself frequently checking my MP3 player to see how much was left.
Wow! I loved this book. I laughed out loud so many times and was completely entertained for the full reading. Bill Bryson is a great narrator. Funny, very funny. I also learned so much about Australia. Fantastic.
The subject should be all I write on this book...boring. If you are looking for a turn-of-the-century romance, filled with sharp witty dialogue this is not it. If you are looking for a painfully slow story about the shallow cares of high society this is your book. The main character, Miss Mapp, was so annoying I found myself encouraging others in the book to scorn her and found no satisfaction in her happiness. The additional characters were no more loveable and I feel the overall listen was a waste of time.
There wasnt a lot of mystery in this story. The events are told plainly and with out much build up. I also was bored by the side story of the main detective and his personal life. I found myself wishing my player could automatically skip over the pointless extras about his life. I also was very disappointed by the extra story of a gang rape of one of the side characters. It added nothing to the original story or mystery; it seemed to be thrown in just for the sake of telling a rape story. Very disappointing.
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