What a fantastic listen, at no time did I think that 40 hours was too long: I found this novel interesting from start to finish and a great way to get a birds eye view of modern history. Littell's style has enough detail and originality of expression to engage the 'reader' without slowing it down too much for the listener who likes action. Definitely qualifies for a repeat listen before too long. The narrator was easy to listen to and characterised the voices very well without causing one to cringe.
An aspiring young actress is sacrificed to protect a debauched major actor's reputation, a woman sacrifices her career to bear his child. Another young man sacrifices the love of his life and their illegitimate child to preserve the honour of his beloved's family. Was any of it worth it?
Whilst not earth shattering material, this a beautifully written and quite well crafted yarn set alternatively in America and deeply rural Italy, moving from the 60's to the modern day.
The characters, while not always likable are interesting and drawn with depth and credibility. My personal favourite was the youngest son, Pasquale, the proprietor of the hotel in Porto Vergogna, who dreams of building a cantilevered tennis court on the side of a mountain, to attract rich American tourists to his hotel, hopefully to resurrect the tiny, dying village. There are quite a few cameo characters in this story, all given their own detectable personalites with a few clever brush stroke sentences by the author. I particularly enjoyed the quirkiness of Pasquale and his village compadres.
I always enjoy a long 'read' and quite happily enjoyed every minute of the 12 plus hours of this book, and will definitely read it again. My 21 year old daughter also recently listened to it and enjoyed it very much.
Edouardo Ballerini reads this just beautifully. Quite amazing how he can deliver both a strident agressive male Hollywood studio executive, and the gentle Italian lilt of Pasquale and his mama. The female voices are also well done and not cringe making, which is a huge relief. I can recommend him as a narrator, with no reservation.
Overall, I am very happy I purchased this book, and pleased to recommend it to other readers
...guess it had to happen eventually, only 21 minutes into this book and I realised I had made a terrible mistake and wasted my precious monthly credit. The feeling started to loom when the author, reading her book, made the announcement that it was not appropriate to share what had brought her to the point of writing this book, but apparently we were still expected to wade with her through her nobly avoiding lovers and maundering through her randomly and ramblingly defined concept of (oh no) 'god'...won't even give this a second chance...was hoping to deal with the real issues of marriage and depression, not the self indulgent memoir of a too wealthy, wet behind the ears thirty somthing...
Based on the reviews that I read I was looking forward to this book and whilst it was enjoyable enough I felt at the end that the whole thing was just slightly off key, and I won't be listening to it again. I did not feel that any of the characters really achieved their potential under the writer's hand although they came closest in the Lisbet character. The 'baddies' were just too bad, too black and white and I felt too, that the violence, grotesque as it was, was perhaps just a tad calculated to shock the reader.
Perhaps Larsson's style lost something in the translation, but I found that the language was pretty wooden as if he was just churning through and trying to get the story told without much consideration for style. The narrator was just fine and I would be happy to listen to him again, but not in a Larsson novel...
I confess I am biased, because I do like long and detailed books and I am happy to say that I think I have just found a new author to add to my list of favourites, this being my first Stephenson read. I found this book an absolutely ripper read, a good rollicking conspiracy yarn cleverly punctuated with wry humour, unpretentious but not inelegant use of vernacular in amusing asides to the reader. Some lovely quirky characters and even the baddies are amusing, the goodies not too sickly sweet! Now, which Stephenson to read next...? Oh, and an important addition, the narrator was excellent, none of the voices jarred, his timing,pacing and savouring of the language of the book perfect!
I normally love the Dalziel and Pascoe books and have many read by Colin Buchanan and Shane Dooley. I am sorry to say that this the reader of this one, I find virtually impossible to listen to, the sound is so muffled. It's a great story, the usual complex of delights but I will be seeking out another version.
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