This book gives an approachable survey of the evolution of English. I learned many things, such as the strong influence of French on English via the Norman Conquest. The author speaks from a British perspective. If you are not familiar with, say, the Battle of Hastings, you may want to consult Wikipedia as you go along.
I grew bored during the second half of the book, and felt I had to slog to the finish line. This may be because, as the author moves forward in time, the history becomes more familiar. While it was interesting to learn about the language of the Wild West cowboys, I found this part less engaging because I already knew about them.
The book could say as much as it does in about 2/3 of the space. The periodic rhapsodies to the power of English can wear thin after a while. Nonetheless, I don't regret reading it.
This is a great, moving, meaningful story. I highly recommend it. However...
Alice Walker is not a terrific narrator. Others are correct to note that she reads too slowly. I also felt she was not credible as the voice of Celie, the main character. Celie is poor and uneducated. She speaks with the grammar and cadence of a poor southern black woman. Embodying this voice is not an easy job, but Walker does not really pull it off. Throughout the recording, I was conscious that it was educated, literary Alice Walker speaking, not Celie.
I downloaded this play to familiarize myself with it before attending a live performance. This is a recording of an actual performance. This format has its drawbacks in terms of familiarizing yourself with the play. As a listener, you get none of the signposts (e.g. the setting, whose on stage, etc.) that a live viewer or even a reader of the play would have. This version sounded as though it came from a common microphone, so that voices near the mike boomed, while those spoken away sounded faint. After a while, I gave up and read the printed version with much more success.
I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't my favorite. The narrator is falsely convicted of espionage and sent to a Siberian gulag. This prison seems relatively lax compared to Solzhenitsyn's world. The narrator escapes along with several others, and embarks on trek south past Lake Baikal, through Mongolia, Tibet, and into West Bengal. Along the way, the party encounters the sort of hardships that you might expect on such a journey. For such a harrowing adventure, there is relatively little suspense about the outcome.
This is a masterful recording of a classic tragedy. Humbert Humbert, a pedophile, narrates his corruption of a little girl, and the consequences that follow. Lolita is a work of high literature, with great vocabulary such as akimbo, plangency, priapic, and nonce. Nabokov needlessly drags out the second half of the story, as Humbert and Lolita travel around the country. I found it helpful to read along in a printed copy of the book and to consult the Internet for a summary of the key plot points.
This book follows the lives of twins, born in an Ethiopian hospital, whose mother (a nun) dies in childbirth, and whose father (a prestigious Western surgeon), flees once he realizes what has happened. The boys share an intense bond, but drift apart as they grow up. The protagonist, Marion, comes to the US to study surgery and confronts his father.
I highly recommend this book. The story is plainspoken and moving, and the descriptions are vivid. Despite a slight lull in the plot midway through, the story builds to a touching and meaningful conclusion.
This one is not available in enhanced format, which means that the audio quality is bit grainy and distorted.
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