I was bedazzled and enchanted by this novel, and I enjoyed the fairly low-key narration of the audiobook. I have no need to repeat what knowledgeable reviewers have said regarding the quality and impact of The Goldfinch. I do have a personal comment on just one thing, and it has to do with the production, not the book itself: After immersing myself completely in the 32 hours of its reading, allowing the author's craft to lead me along, inch by inch, to the very moving conclusion, my savoring of the last words was shattered by the sudden intrusion of a ridiculous crescendo of music, as though, after all that brilliant writing, I needed help "feeling" the book. What an insult to the art of writing and the intelligence and sensitivity of the reader! I'm going to be wandering into a local bookstore soon just to read those last words to myself, in silence, free from the influence of any marketing expert's ill-conceived attempt to program my reactions to them. Audible, feel free to be frivolous with frivolous books, but please, let serious works of fiction stand on their merits; they need no heavy-handed assistance in performing their magic.
What can we learn from a widow who, in late middle age, decides to vacation where she had her honeymoon many years before? Something about how our perceptions shape our beliefs and how we carry past family problems deep within ourselves, using them as a filter against current realities.
The pace is easy and gentle, kind to the protagonist, but the novel pulls no punches when it's time to make a point. It's old-fashioned in a way, I suppose, resembling the way people "used to" write novels. I'm all for literary invention, but sometimes I just want to read a story that starts at the beginning and ends at the end, and this is a good one.
It's a bit of a silly story--sort of young teen fiction of the sort that existed before such books became so, well, adult--but a few of the scenes were so funny I laughed out loud. I guess I expected a bit of depth to this novel, given the amount of positive attention it's received, but I found none to speak of. Still, any novel that can bring us laughter while the world is in the mess it is has great value: it gives us breathing space.
This book was as satisfying now as it was back in the '60s, when I first read it. Even though I knew how it ended, it was a joy to be immersed in its tangled threads and Monsieur Poirot's elegant untangling of them. If you long for an entertaining and absorbing mystery with lively characters and without explicit sex or gratuitous violence, I recommend you start here. Ms. Christie has a lot to offer in this and in her numerous other mysteries. Don't worry about her work being dated; she understands human nature, and that stays constant across the generations.
David Suchet gives us Poirot incarnate.
This was a perfect reading of a clever and entertaining mystery. It's just what one expects from Christie--sly observations, the scattering of fair-play clues and red herrings, and the presence of Miss Marple, whose fluffy white hair and pink knitted wrap conceal a razor-sharp brain. I'm revisiting all of Christie after many years away, and I couldn't be happier.
What fun to revisit Miss Marple after many decades away! Agatha Christie's mysteries are always fair, always tricky, and always full of entertaining characters. This one is no exception. Is it for younger readers? Miss Marple would be the first to say that no matter where you are, human nature is the same. I think that must be true no matter when you live, too; some of the characters may well remind you of people you know.
Joan Hickson, who played Miss Marple in the PBS series, couldn't be a better match of narrator with the material.
I thought this was a terrific novel--a clear story line with layers of tales under the surface. It spans decades, from the '60s to the not too distant future, and left me contemplating my own future in a new light.
The novel is really beautifully written, the language rich enough to drown in. The characters, with their inevitable flaws, are developed sympathetically. Arcadia is the story of a boy who grows up away from the "real world," in a gigantic commune, where pot, poverty, and extravagant dreams and hopes are constants, and what happens when, inevitably, he must join the rest of the human race.
My criterion for narration is simple: a clear, modulated voice that doesn't overpower the music of the words themselves, as the author wrote them. I had no complaints with this novel.
I wish I had it to read over again--and of course I do, and I will!
'll write reviews when I feel like it. Please don't send me e-mails trying to guilt-trip me into doing work I don't necessarily want to do. I owe my opinion to no one, unless it's the author of the book I'm reading.
The story promised to be interesting. However, listening to the author read it made me feel like someone trapped, at a dinner party, next to a stranger who droned on and on. I gave up with relief after the first half of the book. It probably works better on paper; I might even have enjoyed it that way.
In this wonderfully crafted book, Ms. Prose manages to let us both look in, with sympathy, on her characters and look out from their eyes. I think the key to the story--and I admit it pretty much hits the reader over the head--is the duffel bag the ex-skinhead drags around with him, whether on the run or in a seemingly safe haven. We all have baggage, of course, and it always comes with us, whether we reveal it, don't reveal it, or just leave it sitting around until someone discovers it. The characters' thoughts are arrogant one moment, slipping toward humility the next, soft with love the next--ideas as bouncy, biased, and contradictory as those in our own heads. The narrator did a really good job of expressing these inner workings of the characters.
When I had to leave the world--or should I say worlds--of Bonnie and her kids, Vincent and his cousin, and Maslow and his institution, I was left to ponder my own rationales, irrationalities, and beliefs with some tenderness. I think the novel shows us we are always changing, and we are never entirely changed.
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