Solomon's Song, the third and final installment in the Australian Trilogy, tore my heart and had me in tears on a number of occasions.
The novel spans time from the late 19th century through to World War I.
Hawk is the unsung hero and the glue which holds the story and the entire family together. The biggest tragedy is that Hawk remains alone following the death of his beloved Maggie. Hawk becomes a surrogate father to Tommo's daughter, and helps raise her with Mary. Unfortunately, if Hawk has a fault, it's that he feels too much and is blinded by emotion.
Some of his decisions are questionable, and result in more difficulty. A case in point is his decision about how to deal with the other branch of Ikey Solomon's family as a way of atoning for having stolen the contents of Ikey and Hannah's safe without having passed any of it on to Hannah and David.
This book contains more description of the other half of the Solomon family. The entire branch of the family is tainted. Hannah was odious, and none of her offspring are any better. David Solomon is thoroughly nasty and unlikeable, and it's unfortunate that he didn't come to a nastier death about 40 years earlier. His son Abraham is less morally repugnant, but he is weak-willed and spineless and ultimately agrees with the decisions made by his irascible and nasty father. Abraham's son Joshua is merely a pawn of David's and he is also morally weak and repulsive. I wanted to slap him. In fact, I still do.
There is finally some interweaving of the two branches of the family and their fortunes. The Tommo / Hawk / Mary branch of the family is rounded out by Tommo's half-Maori daughter, Hinetitama, and her family.
Hinetitama unfortunately suffers from the same demons as Tommo, and all hope for her is lost when Mary stupidly arranges for Slabbert Tikkelman, Hinetitama's Dutch lover, abuser and enabler, to come to Hobart to marry HInetitama and work at the Potato Factory. Slabbert Tikkelman has no redeeming features, and it's unfortunate that he wasn't killed off earlier in the book. The ultimate downfall and degradation of Hinetitama is terribly sad and appalling. Bower's narration of Hinetitama in the hospice in her 50s when she is reunited with Hawk is superb. It's a complete tear-jerker. What a terrible waste of a life.
Hinetitama's children, Ben and Victoria, grow up under Hawk's care and are poised to take over the family business, but Ben is called away to war.
Many reviewers have criticized Solomon's Song as a piece of anti-war propaganda, but that's not a fair criticism. The horrors of trench war are brought to life with Courtenay's usual brilliant research and writing. But the focus is on more than just Gallipoli. The tedium and terror of training and travel are set out, as well as the futility of the landing at Gallipoli. Ben becomes a great leader on the front lines, and is wounded. He convalesces and recovers in London, becomes betrothed to his shipboard nurse, and then heads out to fight in the front lines of France. Meanwhile, the evil David has pulled strings so that Joshua is coccooned and protected from any hard duty. Joshua eventually feels shamed by the fact that he is sitting comfortably working in an administrative position, and gets himself sent out to fight on active duty in France.
Not surprisingly, the fates of Ben and Joshua are intertwined. As with Hawk, as soon as there is hope and light and laughter for Ben, it is snatched away by cruel fate. Joshua survives but is left with the curse of madness brought on by the war.Yes, the book ends suddenly, but not surprisingly.
There is just so much in this series to love. It's brilliant. It's also brilliantly narrated.
I will go back and listen from the very beginning, in order to catch all the references which I may have glossed over on first listen.
Solomon's Song is ultimately unsatisfying in that I wanted the series to continue, but all good things must come to an end.
Fans of Richard Preston will like this book. It's a very comprehensive primer on viruses and pandemics.
It has a bit of an academic tone and can be fairly heavy going, but it's very interesting and thought-provoking.
It's probably not too simplistic for scientists, and it's not too complex for the rest of us. Nathan Wolfe gets it just right.
It's thought-provoking and fascinating and has a good blend of the historical and the current.
I don't think I'll look at chimpanzees the same way again. Or hunting, for that matter.
This is a great book. Most people will probably be drawn to it superficially because of the 9/11 connection. However, the 9/11 information is probably the least interesting part of the book. Most of what Dr. Melinek had to work with were tiny pieces and fragments.
The rest of the books is absolutely fascinating. There's just the right blend of clinical, interesting science, and riveting storyline.
For anyone who is squeamish or easily offended by death and dead bodies, this is probably not a great listen. But for everyone else, it's a good book. There's a lot of blending of Dr. Melinek's personal history in with the work she was doing.
At the end I was hoping she would write a follow-up about her experiences in California. To me that's the mark of a good book -- wanting another.
Two thumbs up!
I was hoping for something more clinical and less Readers Digest. These stories are in the vein of heart-warming, gently amusing and vaguely spiritual or uplifting.
The stories are fine for what they are, but they aren't an in-depth look at funeral homes, funeral directors and morticians. I was hoping for something more along the lines of Mary Roach's Stiff.
I don't think I'll bother finishing listening to these. Or I'll keep them for the category of audiobooks I can listen to while grocery shopping so it doesn't matter if I get distracted.
These are about as bland and vanilla as you could get.
The storyline in the Silkworm isn't quite as compelling as it was in the Cuckoo's Calling. Part of that relates to the completely hideous plotline of Bombyx Mori and the way it is integrated throughout the novel.
The development of the relationship between Cormoran and Robin is very satisfying and multi-layered. The supporting characters are less dimensional, but they work.
The only irritating thing is the literary references /quotations at the beginning of each chapter. Okay, JK, we get it. You're a serious writer. I don't need convincing. I'm a card-carrying member of the fan club.
In all, it's definitely worth a credit. I'm looking forward to the next one in the series.
What a great first novel in what I hope is a long series.
The plotting is sharply written, the characters are well drawn and human. The ending comes as a real surprise. This is a great book and proves that JK Rowling is not just a one-hit (series) wonder.
Robert Glenister's narration is excellent. His voices are well done and completely appropriate to the characters..
I will continue to buy these from Audible as long as they continue to be written and published.
I love these kinds of adventure tales. This series has such promise. I love the early James Rollins books, and this is similar.
The problem with this series is the narration. Sean Mangan has the diction of someone who is inebriated and who is trying to enunciate clearly and yet slurs at the same time. It's irritating. He also doesn't do a terribly good job of distinguishing between the particular characters. Alex Hunter sounds just like Amy.
I may or may not buy the next one in audiobook form. I may just get them all on Kindle.
Fans of Jasper Fforde's novels and fairly tales would like this.
It's a reasonably interesting novel with some quirky characters and interesting plot devices. The narration is fairly well done, and the story is interesting enough.
Is it great? No, but it's fairly good. This is in the category of light fantasy summer reading.
It's about fairy tale archetypes which occur in real life and the squad of characters hired to stop the stories from taking over and having dire consequences. The main protagonist is a Snow White character who ends up getting pulled inside her own story.
As I say, if you like Jasper Fforde's work, then this is right up your alley.
This is one of the few audiobooks where the narration is miles better than the story.
It's an interesting premise (priest called on to exorcise the White House) but it ultimately doesn't deliver. This would have made an interesting long short story or very short novella, but it just drags out interminably.
Take a stereotypical aging alcoholic defrocked priest, possessed building, and throw in some slavery history and some utterly uninteresting tidbits about prior inhabitants of the White House. Shake well and then discard.
Unfortunately, this is the third in a series, and the first two aren't available on Audible. Hint, Audible: Get on that.
There is obviously some backstory missing, but the reader/listener can make an educated guess about what has happened in the previous two books.
Interesting mix of English suburban village (do the outskirts of London count as "village"), residents with secrets, and an interesting cast of characters.
Shawn Barrett's narration is great and he does all voices well. I didn't see the whodunnit coming.
Interesting placement of the story back in the mid-70s as well.
For fans of the Eisenmenger books, this is another winner by Keith McCarthy. His writing is dryly amusing and droll and I find it very appealing.
Mo Hayder has written a fabulous series about the exploits of DI Jack Caffery and Sgt. Flea Marley. As the events in some of the books take place close in time to the previous book, it's helpful to listen to them all in one marathon.
Damien Goodwin, the narrator of Birdman and The Treatment was absolutely excellent. He has a fabulous range of voices and characters. Andrew Wincott, the narrator of Ritual and Skin, was very good (but not as good as Damien Goodwin).
Unfortunately, Stephen Crossley, narrator of Gone and Poppet, is abysmal. He has only two voices: one male, and one female. Regardless of age, class or origin, the characters all sound the same. He has the same sort of breathy earth-shattering revelation quality to his narration that Scott Brick has, but without the skill.
If the story weren't so good, this would be unlistenable. I'm dreading listening to Poppet because it's the same narrator. Perhaps he will have had some lessons in vocal range and intonation.
The story lines are absolutely gripping, and filled with red herrings and intrigue and multiple plot lines. Mo Hayder is a genius. I love everything she has written. She's not afraid to kill off her characters, and there are often things she leaves hanging from one book to another.
The series is fabulous and a must-listen to anyone who likes thrillers, British police procedurals, and intricate psychological mysteries. The books aren't for the faint of heart or the squeamish, but they're well worth it if you enjoy this particular genre.
The theme of lost / missing / kidnapped children runs through all the books, but it's never heavy-handed.
The first two books are five stars across the board, the second two get 4 stars for performance and 5 overall and for story, and this one only gets a 2 for performance. They all merit 5 stars for the story.
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