This book has delightful components: the wild beauty of Wales as well as appreciation for its fading culture and language, romance, the tension between love and work responsibilities, the amusing contrast between enchanting fiancee and nagging mother -- and a good mystery.
It is beautifully read -- well sustained action. I look forward to the next book in this series.
Again Lescroart has produced a legal thriller (written in 1994) that works on many levels.
For one thing, it's a well crafted book whose title enhances and cements the plot. And the narrator, David Colacci: what a reader! Those voices, that well timed drawl, the enjoyment of the humour. I hope that the Lesocraut-Colacci collaborations keep coming.
The characters. Lawyer, Dismas Hardy: as always, endearing in his humanity, his single mindedness, his capacity for friendship and creative, lateral thinking. Franny: his wife -- Franny, I thought you were a bit rough on Dismas this time, sending confused messages about his family obligations and at the same time, huge concern for his client. There's Freeman: reassuringly his own man, and a brilliant lawyer. And the judge: that was a strong portrayal.
And finally, the plot: satisfying, clever, smooth, twists and turns that weren't gratuitous but interesting side travels. A mix of arresting dialogue, dramatic high moments and, as always, the background of San Francisco's beauty and lifestyle (I enjoy Lew the Greeks!) As a person who is part of a society with gun control and where capital punishment has been abolished since 1967, I was riveted by the way the issues of capital punishment and gun ownership were presented.
I'm not a fan of authors reading their material, but in this case it works. Well, Alison Larkin is a performer in her own right and she certainly works the lighter side of this book very well (and sings in tune!)
The English American is is about identity and families and parents accepting their children and projecting onto their children. And emotional entrapment and blackmail -- and out of all this, working out individual meaning. On the edge of these personal circumstances is Bureacracy pretending to do the 'right thing' (for whom?)
Yes, quite an agenda but presented as a sequence of events so the listener can readily along for the ride.
One does get quite caught up in rescue-mode when the adopted Pippa Dunn is being lured into the identity of others but nevertheless I have given this otherwise entertaining book 3 stars because my interest flagged in several places. I do think a bit of editing would have been useful though I appreciate that each step of the journey would have had intrinsic value to the writer.
I also found Larkin's rather simplistic comparisons between the American and English cultures at times annoying. Though, having said that, I have to admit that at times it was interesting to apply her observations to my Australian culture because we are arguably somewhat half-way between the two. But I found this theme (accentuated by the title) to be something of a red herring and a distraction from what was a valuable journey in terms of working out who we are in relation to our families (whatever the biological relationship).
I'm a fan of this series, but I suggest it isn't judged by this particular book. It's just that this particular novel just didn't work for me. I think it was because it was quite fragmented, lots of extraneous conversations and explanations -- too much information about people who weren't particularly interesting. But, as is always the case, Travis McGee is deeply compassionate (fight it though he might he is a bit of a Robin Hood and a soft touch for a tragic lady) and resourceful and has the freedom and danger of working parallel to the law.
Ah well, perhaps there wasn't enough about his houseboat home -- I really enjoy that setting!
As always, Petkoff reads with commitment and understanding.
Oh where is the 6 star option when you need it!
Because I certainly need for any of the Number One Lady's Detective Agency series -- and this, the thirteenth, is no exception.
This book is beautiful. Reading it is to be engaged in a flow of generous humanity -- people with love in their hearts, gracious routines mapping their day and gratitude for what is wonderful in people and the environment. These are people with idiosyncrasies which amuse or irritate, and past lives which offer explanation and depth to their present, and whose personalities are revealed by dealing with day to day challenges.
But these people are not naive. They are fully aware of the physical dangers of the world, and the usually greater dangers of the mean-spirited -- if not down right evil -- humans. The lady detectives address these dangers with a delicious mixture of compassion, shrewd identification of what is right and wrong, of course, a cup of bush tea.
And always in the background McCall Smith evokes an Africa that is both gloriously vibrant and much troubled, and within it, the stable country of Botswana.
All this is superbly reflected in the narration by Adjoa Andoh who richly captures the music of McCall's language and characters.
The Hon. Phryne Fisher is a charismatic sleuth who takes on the criminal elements of early twentieth century Melbourne, Australia. She has her adoring 'minions' to support her, inherited wealth to ameliorate wrongs, and a uses her knowledge of the under and upper classes to fight exploitation and cruelty.
This book is not merely one of a series of highly entertaining, well written detective novels. Greenwood also uses the wonderful Miss Fisher to demonstrate, to expose, and fiercely and passionately condemn, past inustices. Unnatural Habits (delightful play on words there) reveals the existence of church organisations that have been tremendously cruel to women. This is topical as a royal commission into the closely related issue of child abuse in such institutions has just commenced in Australia (April 13).
Narrator, Stephanie Daniels, brings the many delightful characters to life and without doubt, reflects the very spirit of the author's goals.
This is one of those major novels that will evoke a wide range of interpretations and reactions. Well, not surprising, coming from a Nobel and Booker prize author.
It's an exploration of a man and a little boy (unrelated) arriving in a new society as refugees and learning to understand how it works and where they can fit in as individuals and social beings.
A key tension pervades. On the one hand this is a blank-page society, an unexplained fresh start -- historical memory is forgotten. Relentlessly logical conversations explore the role of the individual and the greater good. On the other hand, qualities such as (offhand, non empathetic) kindnesses, sexual and partnership needs, as well as the naivety of early childhood, surface and try to find a place in this land.
Another aspect which is particularly interesting is the nature of the parent-child bond. The man selects a mother for this child on a random, instinctive basis. The relationship then becomes almost ephemeral as the man, the boy and the selected mother try to define it-- capture it? -- and live with it.
Themes and ideas could be explored at length: this is a challenging book. Therefore move to a comment on the narrator. Interesting and almost haunting. Cameron Stewart suggests the calm, almost Orwellian bleakness underlying this society. He offers a distinct interpretation of the voices of the man and the boy: the subtle push and pull between the man's self restraint and patronising tone, and the boy's energy and brilliance and determination.
This was a listening that didn't flow for me in the same way as Morton's The Forgotten Garden. I suppose I was feeling that the reader's voice didn't work with it quite as well -- young, girlish -- though it would be unrealistic to give her the voice of a 98 year old! But could there have been a better match? Furthermore, the narrator's voice had an accent that didn't belong to England, where it was set -- and although other reviewers have commented on Caroline Lee's Australian accent, Australian though she may be, accent (particularly her vowels) she is not.
It also took me a while to get involved in the story. But in the end, I was fully engaged and thinking about the many windows into the society of early twentieth century that this book was opening. What came over most strongly was what was the human requirements to be 'in service' to the rich -- the acceptance by both servants and masters of the concept of superior and inferior beings. And on the other hand, how profoundly these sort of myths were destroyed in the terrible mud of Flanders and other immense social changes.
This book puts a life, Grace's life, into words. The emotions, the fears, the hopes, the love, the boredom, the loss of self and so many other losses, the sacrifices -- in the end, words.
The most significant part of The Veiled Web was the end when Audible announced that the copyright was 1999. So it was set in a future 2010 and Audible-released March 2013. The dates explained a lot and I wish I had known the publication date right from the start.
This was an imagined development of the internet to the point where deeply philosophical questions could be asked. Here's one: can more animated computers generate scenarios that involve conscience and life purpose -- hey, that's not too far from the way computers are operating-dominating the contemporary world! Mmmm.
There's more: the beauty and passion of dance where the hero strives for perfection -- worlds away from technology.
Also there's travel to exotic lands. And villains.
Now add the question: can fervent Roman Catholic marry fervent Moslem and bring up children together.
An interesting mix, read with conviction. Well, I think the narrator was actually better than the book really. Yes, it was an interesting plot but it relied on the ballet dancer to make silly decisions. This silliness rather fitted with her irritating conviction that she was not particularly clever -- yet she was obviously highly successful in her own right. Yawn.
Ultimately I felt that the writer became rather repetitive and it sounded as if she was trying to convince herself that these scenarios would work. Yes, I confess to a bit of fast forwarding which I rarely do.
Sometimes we meet people who we are drawn to because they are absolutely delightful. A positive, happy attitude to life. Prepared to make mistakes and learn from rather than being cowed by them. Who celebrates the lives of others and is open to the joy of beautiful places. And who is prepared to assess their life path in a practical independent way and act on what is discovered.
This describes the writer, Jennifer Barclay: I felt as if I had actually met her and listened first hand to the captivating stories in her book Falling in Honey. In it she writes a beautifully descriptive celebration of the Greek island of Tilos, adjacent to the Turkish coast. It is read with energy and evident delight by Lucy Price-Lewis (I want to hear more of her -- she matched the narrative perfectly).
Anyone who has the glorious experience of staying on a Greek island and swimming in the Aegean sea will revisit through this book -- or will find their feet itching. But it's not a travel book, really, it's well, meeting up with a joyous, happy friend.
Furthermore, this is a contemporary work. The writer can continue her non island employment via the internet and when the last words have been spoken, all is not finished because her blog is available to all.
Final Victory is, as the title claims, an extraordinary tale. It is 1944 and FDR, the President of the United States, a polio paraplegic, at 62 is now clearly very ill. But he is not interested in contemplating his mortality because he decides to campaign for fourth term in office. He fights this election as Commander in Chief in a country at war, and reduces public awareness of his physical limitations by using the power of radio and a limited number of rousing and witty speeches. Imagine being able to have that much control over what is known about the president in the modern world of communications.
The republicans -- their candidate was Dewey -- ran a bitter campaign against him.
Talk about two planets. In the world outside the USA, young men and woman were fighting a terrible war and huge numbers were undergoing unthinkable privations and dangers. Yet, back home, politicians were aware that some of the people at home (well, enough to play to them,) were largely focussing on their everyday lives and -- Dewey really worked on this -- life after the war. He presented arguments along the lines of: don't let us go back to the Roosevelt New Deal era, think about this because the war will soon be over. But what a thing to say: there was hell on two continents to be endured before the war was, indeed, over. He also even blamed Roosevelt for taking them into the war and pronounced the country's leaders to be tired old men.
What a context to be fighting an election. Great scope for cheap shots since national security simply did not, in many cases, allow the Commander in Chief to respond.
I suppose that one romantically imagines that a country at war is united by the common purpose of survival, rather than allowing the surfacing of arguments that sounded pretty treasonous to me. But of course, engagements, for example, in Vietnam and then the current Middle East was, were and are, in far distant lands -- and in fact, so was this war, except for the attack on Pearl Harbour which initiated the involvement. But, in contrast, Britain for example, didn't have an election during a war which was directly threatening the country, and the governments were largely all party war coalitions.
Anyway, listening to this book I kept on wondering if the electioneering vitriol would have been as strong -- or even allowed -- if the USA had been defending her very own borders.
Generally I found this to be a very interesting, well narrated book. Of particular value was meeting various personalities. In this, Weintraub is clearly not without his biases -- he's not too impressed with Macarthur, or Dewey himself, for that matter. And very sympathetic to FDR and Truman. Well, maybe history agrees with that bias as well.
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