I bought this book because I absolutely love "The Help." The premise for this story is really interesting, about an Irish orphan girl who lives and works with slaves on a plantation. But I had to stop listening to "The Kitchen House" because it devolved into a series of awful, terrible, sickening events--and dread about what horrible thing would happen next. Yuck, give me a break.
Why haven't I heard about Louise Penny before? I absolutely love her storytelling. Distinctive characters portrayed with wit and insight into the human condition, a sense of community and place that made me feel I was there (and wanted to be there), a story line that kept me happily tuned in and guessing. My only negative was the narrator. I know, I know--everyone else gives him five stars. But initially I had a dickens of a time "hearing" him and figuring out which of the characters was speaking. I even tried listening to the audio book at half speed. I think it's the steady cadence of his speech and the fact that he seems to drop the last words of sentences. He seems to "read" rather than to act or portray the characters with different voices. I persevered (glad I did), and towards the last part of the book I began getting used to his style of speaking and could follow him better. I realized this required intense listening, rather than the more casual listening I can do when the narrator is using different, or at least more distinct, voices for each character. Now that I have this down, I may re-listen to the book because I know I missed things in the beginning.
I listened to this to the end and found it to be interesting, with some good (though at times, didactic) information about legal proceedings. But I felt frustrated that the investigatory part of this legal case was so thin. Key elements of the investigation were shallow, taken at face value, and not delved into or nailed down. It drove me crazy. Many possible explanations and variables weren't addressed at all. Going to court with such thin evidence seemed implausible to me. On the plus side, a couple of the characters were interesting.
This could have been an interesting listen, but the narrator was not right for it. This needs someone like the narrator for the Harry Potter series, someone who uses inflection and emphasis and wit and differentiates among characters. But this voice churns along with the same tone, on and on. Too bad.
The characters, the sense of place, the plot combined to make a world that engrossed me. It is long, but I didn't want it to end.
I was intrigued throughout this story. It was smart, often funny, evocative writing. Much about the characters seemed real, especially the dysfunctional Irish family. As the mystery unfolded, I gained insights into how the lives of people in a family are forever intertwined, for good or ill.
I loved the characters in this, and they have stayed with me. Maybe not the most smoothly edited novel here and there, but the story and characters made up for it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and the earlier one, Pillars of the Earth. I learned so much about life in medieval times and was really caught up in the plot and characters. The sex scenes were too vivid for my taste, but the story lines and political intrigue of village life and church hierarchy made up for it. Interesting and engrossing.
This book might be good, but the reader is not. He seems like he is reading the news, rushing through the sentences, all in the same cadence (except when he does an accent). If this book plot is nuanced as the reviewers say, why not get a nuanced reading? Or at least some expressiveness or variation in tone or inflection. If I had a slow speed on my iPod, I would use it, just to get through the book. But after about an hour of straining to keep up with his reading, I have lost track of the plot and I have absolutely no connection with the main character. This is a disappointment. I wish I had not bought this one, but I got sucked in by all the promotion.
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