farmington hills, mi, United States | Listener Since 2008
I just finished listening to Fever by Mary Beth Keane, narrated by Candace Thaxton.
Fever is a fictional account of the life of Mary Mallon (1869-1938) better known as Typhoid Mary. It's the the 27th book I've read (or listened to) in 2013 and so far my favorite.
Keane brings Mary Mallon to life as a complex and even likeable character although as a cook and an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever Mary infects at least fifty people, at least three of whom die. After outbreaks are traced back to her, Mary is quarantined against her will on an island clinic for over two years and released only when she agrees never again to work as a cook.
Mary is portrayed as realistically complicated in her fierce denial, good intentions, failures, doubts, financial struggles, and her role as enabler to her longtime live-in boyfriend.
Keane is a master of description. I have a hunch that a couple of my book club friends might say there is too much description, but I would disagree. It is this element that transported me to early 20th century New York City where I felt a baby leave this world as I held it in my arms, bought a blue hat, hid from the authorities on a snow cold day, loved and hated and loved a man who was addicted to alcohol and then drugs, rationalized a return to my first-love - cooking, and finally accept my typhoid carrier status, my heart breaking under the weight of it.
This book will haunt me for days.
The many themes of Fever make it an ideal pick for a book club: the power of denial, forcible quarantine, co-dependency, this era of New York City.
Candace Thaxton's narration is top-rate. As far as audiobooks go, perhaps my all-time favorite.
Inferno, Dan Brown's latest, holds no surprises. Langdon finds himself in Italy (this time Venice) to save the world (from a deadly virus) in the hands of a secret society (scientists trying to cut the world population by a third). Accompanied by an intelligent and attractive woman, Langdon scurries around the city and beyond pursued and in pursuit of people he doesn't know if he can trust.
The literary tie in -- Dante's Inferno, the history and archaeology in the book, the killer virus aspect, and Langdon's charm did keep me reading. In fact, I couldn't get through it fast enough -- in that I wanted it to be over already so I could read something better.
With Dan Brown we expect twists, but the never-ending twists back and forth in Inferno gave me whiplash. And like always the preachy sounding narrative was, like always, ad nauseum.
Also two kind of minor things really bothered me. First was the blonde ponytail on the heroine - which (spoiler alert) turns out to be a wig. While I've never worn a wig, one swept up in a ponytail sounds implausible. I could be wrong.
Second was the implausibility of secret code names of the secret society members, a combination of two letters and four numbers, a formula that in the book is supposed to be completely unique. Having one of these two letters four number code names proves that someone is part of the society. Far-fetched, no? Admittedly, I probably only noticed it because I have one of these combination code names myself - as does everyone who teaches or attends one of my alma maters - although not made of initials and hundredth birth dates.
The flat narration (this was an Audible listen for me) didn't help. I'm no psychic, but I'd bet some money that the narrator didn't like the book.
I've never been the biggest Dan Brown Fan although I have read most of his books, considering them guilty pleasures and not serious reads. Da Vinci Code especially was a fun read, but the formula is very tired now, and I probably won't read his next one, but who knows?
It took me a minute to get back to The Passage after the disappointing shock at the end of the first part, but I'm glad that I did. I listened to the last three parts in just three days.
This is an epic, Lord of the Rings, type quest story - not that the quest is anything near clear for most of the book. Sooo many characters - but so many lovable characters. And also non-lovable ones.
With the leading characters primarily young adults / teens, it is a great YA crossover title.
The narrator is stellar. Will be looking for more titles narrated by Brick.
I'm glad that the next book is out already, so I don't have to wait - but what a wait it will be for the third!
So many twists and turns. Cronin takes characters to the point of no hope and then provides a way out time and time again.
This will undoubtedly be the next big book-into-movie trilogy. I'm hoping for a mini-series though. It would be a shame for anything to be left out.
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