SARASOTA, FL, United States | Member Since 2011
I love Eugenides, and this is the only novel I hadn't listened to. Nick Landrum's reading is so flat and slow, so lacking in emotion and cadence, I had to turn it off after chapter 3. A darned shame--I was really looking forward to this. The narrator for Middlesex was sensational. What could have possessed the powers that be to have given Landrum this job?
First, Audible offers this novel as two books, which I did not realize when I purchased Volume 1. When I came to the end and realized the story was unfinished and I was out of credits, the representative was good enough to advance me a credit for Volume 2 so I could keep going. Don't make my mistake; purchase both at the same time.
Tolstoy opens a whole world to the readers, and once you enter, you find yourself inhabiting the country and the times, becoming a part of every social strata, and feeling affected by all aspects of Russian life. Living this masterpiece was a wondrous experience for me. The characters are so vivid, you care about what happens to them after you've read the last page.
I tell my clients that authors have three primary responsibilities: to inform, entertain, and evoke emotions from the readers. No one could do a better job of all three than Tolstoy in this amazing novel.
As a book editor, I ask my clients not to use their characters to speak for them but to allow the characters to speak for themselves. I don't believe this is the case in Resurrection. Tolstoy wants to address the Russian "justice" and penal systems, and although he dramatizes the unfolding action, at its core, the dialogue and narrative are more obviously coming straight from the author than I prefer. The setup is interesting: a wealthy juror finds that the accused murderer is a young woman who lived in his aunts' house and whom he loved and betrayed many years before. Believing his betrayal resulted in her ruination and ultimately brought her to this sorry fate, he takes responsibility and follows her to Siberia, where she is imprisoned. This nobleman's thoughts and dialogue were, in my opinion, not distanced enough from what Tolstoy believed, and I was always aware of the author's presence. I think the author should be invisible to the readers rather than the characters' puppeteer.
I did, however, respect Tolstoy's stance and his taking on his huge and terrible issue that was so unfair and prevalent in his country.
The idea of seeing a psychoanalyst five days a week for years struck me as self-indulgent, but this book showed how some individuals' destructive behavior needs that ongoing, intense attention to unravel the subconscious reasons. Grosz presents a wide variety of issues and includes how his patients' issues and his response to them prompted him to analyze himself. Two stories affected me deeply: his father's return to the locations where he spent his pre-WWII youth, and a violent child who spat in Grosz's face every day for a year and a half.
The narrator did a wonderful job. He communicated Grosz's obvious intelligence and thought-based approach.
Ah, these were the days of meandering, philosophical ruminations, when not every paragraph had to advance the plot. . . . Tolstoy's novel is sheer brilliance, with complex, neurotic protagonists who drive themselves and each other crazy. The sanest characters are the peasants and the women, except for Anna, of course.
Tolstoy does a beautiful job of portraying life in Russia at that time--the politics, religion, society, families . . . what doesn't he talk about?!
The British narrator is wonderfully talented except for one odd kick in his gallop. When he reads the dialogue for peasants, he gives them a Cockney accent, and the kindly Russian Orthodox priest sounds Irish. I'm not kidding.
How many times has someone asked, "If you could meet any historical figure . . ." and you had so many names flash before your eyes, you couldn't make a decision? Well, Peter the Great is Numero Uno for me after having listened to this book. He not only dragged Russia into the modern world, he was a wild man, with boundless curiosity, intelligence, and energy. He didn't care about society's dictates. He didn't care about ceremony, tradition, or rituals.He mocked courtly behavior and the Church. In many ways he was like an out-of-control fraternity boy. He drank too much and partied to the point where no one could keep up with him. At 6'7", he traveled throughout Europe "incognito," not wanting royalty to acknowledge him as he visited their country to learn all he could to improve the life of his countrymen.
This book does not limit itself to Peter the Great. It's about his era, and it was fascinating. I can't recommend it enough.
As for the narrator, is it possible this man lisps, and no one ever noticed?!
I am a book editor, and I'm forever reminding my clients to show and not tell their story. I tell them to inhabit a point-of-view character rather than be an omniscient observer, a literary technique that is out of vogue. I instruct them that all narrative must come from within the story rather than outside it, from the storyteller.
Paul Scott's novel tells the story a majority of the time, the point of view is not consistent, and the narrator is often the voice. Listening to this book should have irritated the heck out of me, but it didn't. I loved it.
Scott writes beautifully, and he includes unusual, telling details. Sometimes he breaks a moment down into tiny increments, which allowed me to draw a distinct picture in my mind of what was transpiring.
Richard Brown delivers an outstanding performance. His voice is that of a highly educated Brit, but he nailed the characters from India. Their dialogue never sounded singsong. He was adept at not spilling over the accents into the narrative or, when two characters, a Brit and and Indian, were talking to each other, he always delineated them. The accents didn't bleed into each other (as they are doing now, in Volume II, with a different narrator).
My attention never lagged. I really enjoyed this listening experience, and I am committed to listening to all the volumes in the Raj Quartet.
I am a sensitive person, and I thought I'd find this book so upsetting, I would bail out. I surprised myself; I was riveted. I didn't know much about Hitler's years-long rise to power, except that the German people were destitute and humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles, and he rebuilt their national pride. The details of his climb were fascinating.
He was a master bluffer. He invented self-righteous reasons for invading neighboring countries and bullied France, England, and the United States into believing him and not intervening until it was too late in many situations.
Hitler was so insane, it's almost impossible to believe he got away with his machinations and atrocities, but Shirer's staggering research and documentation back it up. Shirer was a journalist-broadcaster in Germany when a lot of the events transpired, and his firsthand observations inform his perspective. I am in awe of how he managed to gather the material from so many sources, organize it, and write it so clearly and beautifully. His work is mostly objective, but at times his incredulity and revulsion escape. He wouldn't be human had it not.
The narrator did an outstanding job. He must be fluent in French and German. Officers' and politicians' names flowed from his lips, no matter how, well, awkwardly, cacophonously Germanic they were.
I made it through the whole book, mesmerized. I enthusiastically recommend it.
Obviously Elizabeth's virginity was important, but I wish the book had been less preoccupied with her hymen.
This book centered on solving a crime. Part of a body washed up on shore, and the police had to figure out the victim's identity and nab the perp. The competition among the NY newspapers at this time was intense, and Pulitzer and Hearst tried to out-sensationalize each other's papers.
This sounds really interesting, right? But it wasn't. The investigation itself wasn't exciting, and the people involved were not complex or fascinating.
The criminals in this book were German immigrants, so an important factor in the performance was the reader's ability to nail a German accent. He was way off. He improved as he went along, but it was never consistent or convincing.
With so many good books out there, I wouldn't opt for this one.
I purchased this book to hear a firsthand report of the Bin Laden mission and the rescue of Captain Phillips from the Somalian pirates, but it offered so much more than that. Its content described the driven personality of a SEAL ("the person who comes in second is the first loser"), the personal sacrifices, the beyond-rigorous training, and the cooperation, professionalism, and camaraderie among these brothers in arms.
The preface explains that many authorities examined the content to make certain it did not divulge anything that could prove useful to enemies of the US. Being at the compound in Pakistan as the raid took place delivered exactly what I was looking for. As for the Somalian pirates, one had to come aboard the US ship for medical treatment, and our soldiers put him on deck, in view of the other pirates who were still on the lifeboat with their American captive, and fed this pirate ice cream and Cokes, in full view of the others, to weaken their morale. I thought that was hilarious. Then, of course, the SWAT team killed the pirates as soon as they could do so without jeopardizing Captain Phillips--every exciting . . . and similar missions go on all the time.
The narrator did a wonderful job. His voice was well suited to the book.
I highly recommend No Easy Day.
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