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.
Now I have completed all four of Morton’s books. She is an amazing story teller and there is no doubt she will generate more fascinating stories that I will devour. She has a tendency to simply awe me and I am captivated by her mysteries.
In this book, as in ‘The Distant Hours’, the same period in time, the 1940s, is revisited. And as in all her books, the protagonist is the strong female and the men play only the supporting cast. That is fine by me. The story is strong, nostalgic, tragic, and draped in history. Second chances are possible if not necessarily deserved. Afterall, there was a killing or perhaps even a murder!
For the first time, I felt that this book was not as strong as the others in Morton’s armoury and the chapters somewhat lengthened to fill the word count. Especially, I was somewhat dulled by the chapter dedicated to Dorothy’s beach excursion. Also how is it possible that a very famous actress like Laurel, can just wonder about town without being harassed in every street corner?
Still, it is a wonderful book and I will recommend it to the diehard Morton fans like myself.
We have all heard about Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen and their heroic journeys and sacrifices during the golden age of Antarctic exploration. But who has really heard of Douglas Mawson? I certainly did not know of this man’s escapades during the early part of the 20th century until I heard this book recently. It is a painstakingly researched, well written story of Mawson’s adventures trying to explore the unexplored regions of Antartica. The Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AED) was a remarkable scientific foray into the hellishly cold and windy regions of the south pole. Many remarkable characters make up the expeditionary party and crew of the steamer Aurora as they journey towards packed ice fields, stormy seas and the hurricane gusts of Commonwealth Bay. Many early chapters of the book is devoted to Mawson’s earlier life as an explorer and his ambitions to create the AED. Individual party members are also studied in detail and described. I particularly enjoyed the stories of Frank Hurley, the expedition photographer. The actual harrowing story of how Mawson survives the perilous journey on the ice alone for 30 days after his two compatriots die is remarkable but only plays a smaller part of this book. That is the reason I think the book was mistitled. Nevertheless, the story is an amazing piece of history that needed to be told for future generations.
This was another recommendation based on my reading history on Audible. Specifically I think it was based on my love for ‘Beautiful Ruins’ which was a spectacular novel. There is so much to grasp in this novel which floats between two human beings, Lenka and Josef, forever joined through love in a tumultuous time. Separated and lost, they continue their lives into the future still longing for the times they had spent together during the early part of WWII. Remarkable research on the Theresienstadt concentration camp is embedded in the novel where Lenka suffers through the Nazi occupation. Both believe the other has perished and only a chance encounter many decades ahead will fulfill their eternal love. The story is very believable since millions were separated through anguish, hatred and circumstance during WWII. The author specifically mentions that she was inspired by a similar event that was conveyed to her. It is a beautiful story and well written. Sadly, the narration is so so. But it is worth a listen.
There is no doubt that this is a remarkable story. A man situated at the right place at the right time? Perhaps not! Still, there is so much of information here from Siegfried Knappe. Even though he was not necessarily fighting house to house in Stalingrad or facing the D-Day landings from the cliffs, he was close to the major operations as an officer. Especially telling is the last days of the battle of Berlin and the fight to defend the last vestige of the Third Reich. I read that part atleast twice to understand the mental pressures of the last men standing. However, as with other memoirs of the German soldiers, it is troubling to always note the absence of knowledge of the holocaust. Numerous times, he briefly mentions momentous occasions such as Kristallnacht, or his memory of a Jewish friend. But it is unconvincing, atleast to me. Yet, it is about country, family, and honor that drives Knappe to the end. Problems aside, it is a remarkable piece of history.
This is a book that will stay with you for a very long time. Perhaps a life time. As I listened to this, I asked myself a simple question. Could I put my life in danger to save a friend? I do not know the answer. But I thank god, there are others who selflessly sacrifice their own safety for the sake of others. This story is written for all those unsung heroes, past, present and yet to come. Even though we know much about Anne Frank and her diary, this book added an extra perspective on Anne for me. Strictly speaking it is the life story of Miep Gies and her husband Jan Gies. But there were many others who took extraordinary risks for the safety of the hideaways. Their stories are also told. This is more than a play or a movie. This is a life lived in an evil time where trying to feed eight people in an attic can mean life or death. This is true history at its best.
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.
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.
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