I enjoy fiction with an explcitly spiritual dimension, but rarely find a novel that is not saccharine and badly written. Although it might take a few chapters to "get" this novel, I found it well worth a bit patience. I think it one of the best novels that I've come across in years: It was both "inspirational" (in the true sense of that word)and well-crafted.
As much as I love historical fiction, I didn't think any author short of Tolstoy could make battle strategy interesting to me, but Wouk did. My test of good historical fiction is being "driven" to fact check a detail then being able to jump right back into the world of the story, and not wanting to leave. This book beat a satisfying path to my reference shelf.
I expected only a pot-boiler with a traditional Yankee bias, but the novel exceeded that, both in style and content.
Narrator Parriseau does a good job, but with such a range of voices and characters there are some misses.
This starts off sounding like a YA mystery but by hour two becomes a well-plotted cozy with some good setting detail. Narrator Dunne just sounds too American, however, for a Brit cozy, and the jazz age tone she attempts is even less suitable in this installment because there's less humour and flippancy to Daisy, more attempted sleuthing. I've found the titles available to date on Audible of vaying quality but still hope that Audible adds more Dunne titles. Daisy and Alec seem to be developing into a more interesting detective team.
After a while, most books on Christian spirituality start to sound the same -- or one of three kinds of "same": conservative Catholic/Anglican, Conservative Protestant or liberal Protestant/Catholic. Just when I decided to stop listening to the genre, the twinkle in McLaren's eye in the cover photo of this audiobook invited me to download another. For once I think you can judge a book by its cover! McLaren sifts through the best in all the flavours of contemporary Christian traditions in this short book. His is not quite a synthesis, but a generous openness to and celebration of the best in each, leaving room for doctrinal and procedural differences. He clarifies jargon, and rather than "blah blah alleuia amen," every word he speaks/writes makes meaning. I don't agree with him on every point, but his style invites me to respectfully consider his persective rather than dismiss the differences. If we all could adopt that attitude!
His narration is excellent-- warm, well-paced, good-humoured, self-deprecating. I enjoy younger emergent Christisn thinkers like Shaine Claiborne and Rob Bell, but I REALLY enjoyed McLaren who is of my generation (though not my denomination) as he told of his faith journey though his 1950s chidhood to the new millenium. In the end, that 's the best thing about this book - The conten doesn't come from McLaren's head but his lived experience in relating to Jesus and neighbour in differnt types of community.
This is not great literaure, but it is a great story, narrating important history in what seems to me a balanced way.
Instead of a happy ending this 2003 novel ends on a "hopefully ever after" note - but we know that hope continues to dim as the West continues to interfere ineffectively in Afghanistan (i.e. militarily rather than through NGOs, etc) in a quagmire we largely generated - We keep messing it up to a point that violent assistance seems to become the only means - or so are told by those who favour violent assitance...
I think this is an important novel, but I am tired of fellow Canadians using the horrors described in this book to justify our war (rather than the traditional Peackeeping done by our miltary).
Friends tell me that I ought to lighten up my reading life. So I tired some chick lit, but found most of it boring, poorly written, and often containing too much explicit sex (made more graphic by audio format, even if was cliched). When I saw this on sale, I thought Christian chick lit (or lad lit, I guess, in this case) might be better. If I had a teenager, I'd be glad if she/he read this, but it was a dull listen for middle-aged me.
I read a professional book review that labelled this as "chick lit" with a weak heroine, but I found it much more than that-- kind of a cross between E.L. Doctorow's City of God (without as much literary polish) and Shalom's Auslander's Foreskin's Lament (without the scatological humour). I would gladly read other novels from this author, particularly if they contained such good descriptive details of a group unfamiliar to me (ultra Orthodox Jews and younger members of their community coming to terms with contemporary society while trying to honour their heritage) and/ or other theological reflection in novel form.
Though there are some audio quirks, they didn't significantly interfere with the listen (at least when formatted for ipod). I suppose the quick transmission to downloadable audio may keep the novel's price cheap?
I fell in love with this novel (and Gabriel Oak) when I was 14 and have re-read the paper version several times over the last 35+ years. I hesitated to download it, thinking such a beloved book would suffer in audio, but I really enjoyed the listen. I loved the narrator. She brought to life Hardy's poetic sections, especially those involving the English countryside and farming practices. As others have pointed out, the novel contains a somewhat misogynist portrait, but of a strong-ish heroine (for a Victorian character). In middle age, I felt the misogyny more deeply than back in the 70s, but I put up with it (and often much stronger) in Hardy's contemporaries and predecessors for the beauty if the prose and old fashioned romanticism and realism. Well, admittedly the ending is "too happy;" as someone pointed out --it wasn't Hardy's original ending; I think he had to tone down his realism to get published, but as a teen and now as an old fart, I love the ending. There's enough angst in the world and contemporary lit to suffice for me!
The listen motivates me to download and reacquaint myself with other Hardy novels and perhaps download his bio.
-else the detail might drive a listener crazy, but I found all three parts of this Darcy novel a very relaxing listen. By part three, I even enjoyed the narrator's style, almost.
If you have the time or inclination for only two parts of the series, part 2 could be skipped.
Part one covers the period up to the departure from Netherfield to prevent the Bingley-Jane alliance; part 2 sees nothing of the Bennets except the knowledge that Jane is in London and cut by the sisters Bingley; it then diverges into a gothic mystery entangling Darcy as he tries to find a society wife; part three picks up at Darcy's encounter with Elizabeth at Rosings and and follows the P&P plotline and past to the wedding (I think the author ought to have ended where the P&P plot did, but then again, if she produced a part 4 that imagined the Darcys' married life, I still probably would listen.)
The biggest faults in the listen for me were the overwrought "romance speech" scenes and the quick references to stereotyes of Irish rebels and misunderstood Celtic spiritual traditions. But there are gems of imagination to compensate, such as Darcy's valet portrayed as a bit of a Jeeves character.
If you want some good chick lit for listening, you might as well get this homage to the ultimate work of chick LITERATURE. Now can someone re-write P&P from the servants' viewpoint?
I stuck with this listen only because so many friends recommended it-- It took three hours before I found the book less than tedious, but in the end it was satisfying though easy listening.
If you're a fan of Walter Wangerin's gentle Bible tales, this may not be for you. If you are one of the "Left Behind" crowd, this is definitely not for you!
I loved the idea behind this book, and the author communicates more about theories of ancient goddess-based worship and its supression than some academic tomes I've slogged through -- and wouldn't "the Mothers" have preferred communcation through narrative?
Some reviewers disliked the modern tone of the narrator, and I struggled with her perkiness, but I think it is the modern sensibility (and occasionally even vocabulary) of the author that keeps creeping into the text itself -- However, it must be so difficult to write otherwise! Let's give some poetic license to the voice of Dinah because she is speaking from outside of time.
I found this laugh-out-loud funny in places. I read the novel in the 80s and it was even better as an audiobook. My prof for a course in 19th century novel said about it, "No one born in this century can enjoy this humour." I disagreed with her then, and still do --as would the other reviewers! Like good wine, it got better with age.
This novel would appeal to fans of Anthony Trollope, with satire a bit more savage and prose less meandering than the Postmaster's.
The prose is at times dense, so it's perhaps not a novel for listeners new to audiobooks if they want to grasp all the satire which is often conveyed quickly and/or through understatement.
Davidson is one of my favourite narrators, but this is not a sample of his best work --with, for example, the audible breathing as mentioned by another reviewer.
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