I really wanted to read this book after some recommendations from readers who enjoyed books like Unbroken, Lost in Shangri-La, Long Walk and We Die Alone. It is no doubt a remarkable story of resilience against the harsh sea. A man surviving for 130+ days at sea on rain water, fish and occasional birds seems unbelievable but it is a true story that solely belongs to a remarkable human being - Poon Lim. Unfortunately, the book does little credit to this man’s incredible journey through lackluster writing and the vocal performance on the audiobook is less than stellar. Yet, it is still an engrossing listen and I recommend it because of its remarkable subject matter.
Continuing my education of books that won the Man Booker price, I picked up White Tiger which won the coveted award in 2008. The synopsis of the book and its setting in bustling Bangalore which I visited recently hooked me into this tale. I really wanted to like this book but the central character, Balram Halwai, never seemed likeable or plausible. He is as usual, in these types of Indian novels, the downtrodden poor village boy with no hope. Yet, he is a masterful schemer, learning from his social status and surroundings with a streak of evil to succeed in the long run. Perhaps that is the reason I did not enjoy the story telling. Or perhaps it was the narrator. Either way, I wanted more out of this book than I received.
This is my first Graham Greene novel. I have seen a number of movies based on his books but never really listened to a novel. Seeing that this was narrated by Colin Firth, I dived in. What an experience. It’s a remarkable story from an incredible story teller. The narration is expertly delivered by Firth which really adds to the authenticity of Maurice Bendix – a not so nice chap who is a bit of a schemer and writer. I was certainly engrossed in the strong love affair between Maurice and Sarah Miles during WWII and its abrupt and mysterious ending. The mix of religion and faith plays really well into the storyline whether you yourself is a believer. Based on many writings about the novel, this is really a self expose of Green’s own life and experiences including his religious views and his affair with Catherine Walston.
Ofcourse, it really helped to know that this production won ‘Audiobook of the Year’ at the Audie Awards in 2013.
After searching for awhile on Audible for a good spy thriller and reviewing the many positives for this book, I eventually spent my credit. My interest piqued on the summary of the book from Audible also and it seemed that an interesting page tuner was in-hand. Oh dear! This book is actually quite interesting on the first few chapters and utterly disappointing the remainder. Sadly, there is no mystery as it is solved early on and the remainder of the plot becomes quite tedious and boring. I don’t think there is anything else to say really.
I admit, I was a little apprehensive listening to this book. Sure, I have a fascination with the Man Booker prize book winners and their fantastic story telling gifts but I really had a disdain for Cromwell from my early childhood. Cromwell never got a positive look-in through my history lessons at school and always looked like an overgrown Friar Tuck. After watching ‘Man for All Seasons” which paints Sir Thomas More as an angel, I had some doubts about the Tudors and their times. So, putting my prejudices aside I gave a chance to Hillary Mantel to provide her own fictionalized story of a reviled figure in English history. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Yes, it is long and arduous at times and quite detailed on historical names and places. But it is never boring. You always wanted to know the next chapter in the intrigue and poor More does get a good bashing – especially by the narrator. There are no heroes in this book – just old fashioned conniving royals in their fancy Court trying to upend each other. A thoroughly good read and I will now have to see what happens to Ann Boleyn in “Bringing up the Bodies”. I hear it’s a trilogy and Cromwell will get his just deserts soon enough.
What an amazing listen this book was. Totally engrossing! Salim’s life starts as an adventure, an escape from the mundane, and yet becomes colorful, complex and hectic. The writing is the true champion here and the surroundings, the people, politics and Africa, the supporting pillar. You really aren’t quite sure how it will all end but as the narrator is telling us of his past, we can only deduce that no calamity occurs. This was my first Naipaul and I hope to engross myself in more of his tales. Ah, the ending – was that an ending? We will never know I guess.
History is fascinating! No more than the sinking of the Titanic. I really wanted to get into this book and find out more about its passengers and the horrors they faced. The sacrifice with a stiff upper lip! It is all here except that the narrative is so dry and the performance sub-par. What a shame! There are parts within the book that is so harrowing and heart breaking as I knew it would be. As I listened, I lost my way due to the excruciating detail of names, places and relationships. Perhaps I need to listen to it again with a different mindset to capture the background of the individuals of first class through steerage. The story deserves it.
This was my third Morton after Forgotten Garden and Distant Hours. After the Forgotten Garden, which I believe is her best, I was completely hooked on her story telling. I am always absorbed by her characters, locale and period. My love for the early 20th century of Britain is always beautifully captured by her mystical storytelling and they always involve a truly believable heroine. House at Riverton is such a novel and amply captures the sentiment of the ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ period. I simply loved this book. As always, the narration goes a long way to sell the words and Lee, yet again, delivers. Great, great book …
I picked this novel up for free recently. The adage “you get what you pay for” is so wrong in this context. Charlotte Bronte’s superlative love story captures your heart from its very first few pages. Remember that this story was written when women struggled to find literary publishers and their artistic powers were subjugated by convention and prejudice. That is why this story is so remarkable with its passion, mystery, religion, and even such controversial topics as bigamy and living as a mistress. An incredible story from an incredible literary family.
As an Asian immigrant myself who grew up most of his life in London and went to University there, I immediately connected with the story and the old judge. I now live in the USA and the story of Biju struggling to earn his keep seems so real in so many ways for new migrants. There are so many beautiful and colorful characters in this story each with their own wonderful tales and I was totally lost in nostalgia for the old “Raj”. The English certainly left an indelible mark in India and post-independent India never recovered. In one sense, this is the story of moving-on and yet it is also the story of longing for the old ways. The vocal delivery is absolutely top-notch in this release. I loved this book and it should not be missed!
This is a beautifully written book that captures the essence of the human condition. Sometimes we make choices, and they may be for the right cause but not what we really desire. In this way, we feel for the characters in this book who are trying to overcome their imperfect lives, abiding by the rules of normalcy, facing tragedy and heartache, and yet overcoming the challenges over a 50 year saga. As I listened, I sometimes laughed out loud and then sulked with the disappointments of the protagonists. I was immersed in each sub-plot, each character, each wonderful location, and ofcourse the “Pitch”. What a lovely book – movie anyone?
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