I listened to Cloud Atlas and think it's a 5-star book with 5-star narration. That said, I don't think it's likely to please everyone. In fact, now I need to read the book to put some things together that went by too quickly in the spoken version. The novel is structured as a series of loosely related stories, which start, are interrupted, and then conclude. The characters are very interesting, and some appear more than once. My favorite character is Zachry, an islander living in post-apocalyptic Hawaii. Some of the characters/stories are a little tiresome. For me, those are the Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish and Letters from Zedelghem. A movie adaptation is supposed to be released in late October this year.
You might want to read the wiki article for a non-spoiler roadmap before you tackle this one.
This is an excellent, first-hand account of slavery in the American south written by a man who was kidnapped from his home in New York State and sold into slavery in Louisiana. Solomon Northup's story is a heartrending story of a man's patient fight for survival and freedom. Even his fair portrayal of 2 kind masters cannot balance the years he suffers in unrelenting, back-breaking labor, the unfathomable cruelty and unbelievable brutality of several of his masters, and his constant deep longing for freedom and his family. Louis Gossett, Jr.'s narration is as expert as you would expect. It is not a "performance" read, which I think works well with a first-person point of view.
I LOVE this book. It is a darling lyrical gem of beautiful language and gentle philosophy about how the characters deal with the currents in their lives. I remember thinking that the author must have had so much fun coming up with images for the things Bonaventure could hear. I am so glad I listened to the audible version; the narrator, Maggi-Meg Reed, was perfect and found distinct voices for the characters. I wish they had cast her to read the Hunger Games trilogy. I am adding this one to my favorites list and will look for more from Ms Leganski.
One of the themes in this book is forgiveness, a favorite topic of mine. I especially like this passage, which comes toward the end of the book: "The words fell all around her then like a kind and curing rain: Father, forgive them; they know not what they do. Right there and then, Letice Arrow knew in absolute clarity that forgiveness is unconditional; it is complete in and of itself and always rises above the facts."
I knew about this book but had never read it, and I haven't seen the movie. I knew it involved a mystical place called Shangri-La, but that was it. I listened to the audible version, and enjoyed it very much. It's set post-WWI, an era I am drawn to, mostly because my grandfather served with the army in France. I wish I knew more about his experience, but he would never talk about it, even to my father.
Lost Horizon features an interesting narrative structure in that the story is mostly told third hand by a neurologist who hears the story from a novelist (Rutherford) who got the story from the main character, Hugh "Glory" Conway. Rutherford discovers Conway (whose remarkable personal, academic, and athletic qualities create an indelible impression on everyone he meets) in a mission hospital in China. Conway originally is suffering from amnesia, but when he regains his memories, he tells his story to Rutherford, who writes it down and gives it to the narrator. Then Conway disappears. The novel's epilogue leaves an interesting question in the mind of the reader, and I have my own preferred "answer."
When Conway and three companions are being evacuated from India during a revolution, their plane is hijacked and crashes in the mountains to the west of Tibet. The pilot dies, but the party is rescued and escorted to a lamasery, Shangri-La. I don't want to give away more of the plot, because it is so wonderful to discover it for the first time. I think I might have wanted to stay in Shangri-La, were I given the chance. I just love the philosophy of the monks: moderation. Nothing is particularly right or wrong, so there's little need for a crime-punishment mentality, which really bothers two of the kidnapped hostages. In my opinion, the treatment of time at the lamasery is the most fascinating aspect of Hilton's imagination -- especially in contrast with the experiences of people who survived WWI, escaped from a violent revolution, and lived through a plane crash -- and is the most remarkable feature of this novel.
The reader of the audible book is fine, but it's not really a "performance" narration. It suited me, even though I did not like the voice given to Miss Brinklow -- one of the kidnapped evacuees. Other voices were subtly distinct and not distracting.
I'm currently reading Hilton's book, Random Harvest, and am enjoying the similarities in the themes and characterizations. I especially like the material regarding the impact of WWI on the individuals who fought in the trenches and the way society dealt with the returning veterans.
I listened to this book and, even though I thought the readers were ok (I didn't really like the voice of Marion, and thought it almost sounded computer-generated at first), I really loved the whole thing. Some of the characters, especially Marion and the sinister Count Fosco, are just amazingly well portrayed. Poor Laura Fairlie, the central figure in the story, is just lovely, but frail and pale, and allows herself to be married to a creepy guy whose single-minded interest in her fortune becomes very clear before the wedding. Percival Glide, is SO easy to hate. The mystery of the woman in white and all the strands of the twisted plot are woven together a bit at a time. The keys to the mystery become revealed towards the end.
The main narrator is Walter Hartley, a drawing master who falls in love with lovely Laura at first sight. But Laura is betrothed to Percival, a Baronet, in an arrangement made by her father before he died. Laura and her half-sister Marion live at Limeridge at the sufferance of their uncle Frederick Fairlie. Now there's a character! He is a petulant invalid who misuses his servants ("right now, he (the valet) is a drawing stand") and claims his nervous weakness as an excuse to selfishly disregard his niece Laura's situation, even when the family attorney tells him specifically that it's a startlingly poor deal. The reader has Fairlie's weak whiny quavering voice to perfection! Later, Walter refers to Uncle Fairlie's communications, but spoken and written, as "insolent politeness."
There are many other wonderful characters and terrific twists and turns in the plot. I was just a bit disappointed in the "easy" ending. I would have liked to know more about how it all came about, although the irony of the ending was rather satisfying.
Evidently, Mr. Collins gave Charles Dickens a run for his money back in the day. This novel is Gothic and juicy and wonderful. If you think you might not enjoy reading the sometimes convoluted Victorian narrative style, consider the audible version.
Once again, Jayne Entwistle brings Miss Flavia de Luce to life in the second book. The ending to this story did not disappoint me. It was much different than the first. If the author had used the same technique as he did in the first book, I would not be looking forward to listening to the next. As a sequel, this book provides another very interesting mystery and advances our knowledge and understanding of the de Luce family and their friends with character development and back story.
I listened to this book and loved it. The main character, 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, is very interesting and entertaining without being too sweet at all. She's very intelligent and clever, but not too clever -- she needs help in solving the mystery she faces. I was a bit disappointed in the ending. It seemed way too contrived and easy as a method for wrapping up the mystery. I am hoping that the author uses a more plot-oriented (rather than narrative) ending in the second book.
The reader, Jayne Entwistle, is wonderful. Her voicing of Flavia, the first person narrator, seems perfect to me.
I found this book interesting enough to finish, so I gave it 3 stars. I like fantasy and mythology and enjoyed the weaving of traditional fairy tale characters into this mystery in which the Woodcutter plays detective, judge, and executioner based on an eternal agreement between him (and his paternal ancestors) and the Fay, the trees, and the earth. A subtle religious undertone erupts at the very end. The power of the earth, trees, and magic should have been sufficient to effect the happily-ever-after ending without invoking a resurrection. However, regardless of the plot, thematic, narrative flaws, it was the reading that was the worst aspect. This was truly a story to be read aloud, but the characters' voices, especially the woodcutter's, were forced and irritating.
Although there's a new mystery to solve, the characters and their backgrounds develop from the first book. Contrary to other reviewers, I like the way Maisie uses the powers of both her intellect and intuition to solve the mysteries she faces. Maisie has unusual academic training and works with Dr. Maurice Blanche to refine her intuitive and empathetic abilities. I don't see this aspect of Maisie's character as mystical or "woo-woo," as other readers have complained. She is not just a detective, she's a therapist who is more interested in helping her clients deal with their inner demons than just solving crimes. And, for the veterans and grieving survivors of WWI, more insight and empathy is a critical factor that allows them to be less guarded and more honest than they would be with the police.
I also really like learning about possibly little-known aspects about WWI, as my grandfather served in France, but never really spoke about his experiences. I am hoping that subsequent books will continue to preserve the social impact of the "Great War, reveal background aspects of all the characters, that Maisie will continue to refine her techniques, and that the books will continue to entertain and educate.
Partly, I was disappointed in the reader. I found her rendition too over-done for what I imagine to be Mary Roach's dry, tongue-in-cheek humor. I also found the topic to be less interesting than I expected, although the ending was quite a surprise. I guess most of the scientific findings about topics related to the afterlife are exactly what I would expect. I am looking forward to more of Roach's books though.
Excellent reading. I wanted to refresh my memory before the movie is released, but just loved the language, again.
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