I was captivated by the first book, The Deep Goodbye, and intend working my way through the Travis McGee series because this, the second book, did not disappoint in any way.
Roberts is a prolific and popular writer. I was interested to check out some of her work. So, of course, this was a well presented story. But I certainly was not one of her target readers. Rare for me, lots of fast forwarding, well, to see if what happens in the end is what is clearly going to happen in the end! It just went on and on. However it is an optomistic read for women who need the hope imbedded in a saga of tough no-housework, no-children, no-settling-down men being converted into dedicated and skilled family men.
The selfishness of young Dan was almost claustrophobic. I assumed something was going to happen beyond his excrutiating hyper focus on being the best swimmer in the world and his mother's subservience to him (or was it just pure love -- imponderable) and the theme of social exclusion based on class and behaviours. But this young man really didn’t interest me at all.
But I decided to continue because this book has attracted widespread attention in Australia.
Dishearteningly, this was also being read in the context of two key events outside the book. Our newly elected national leader was speaking and behaving in a way that made me ask if his was the voice of an older Dan, modified by time but the core aspirations still there – sport: to be the strongest and the best; leadership: the strongest and the best. Whatever it takes. And not particularly adept when the prize was his.
Secondly, a local television station aired a distressing discussion which included victims, their loved ones and rescuers, about the marked increase in attacks on people, young people, that do not lead to a good old fashioned dust up, but are glassings, and king hits, coming from nowhere. Echoes of Dan. This level is new in Australia.
One has to keep listening to see if this selfishness will be resolved. It is true, there is a constant and almost contradictory underpinning of generosity and patience in Can's care for ill people and this suggests a path that will transcend earlier behaviours. But for me there is a sense of ‘wishful thinking’. This difficult person sweeps past others, not with the power of hope and the holy grail of excellence, but with an urgent self absorbed belief that validates all that he does. The oft repeated mantra of his goal of strength and being the best has unsettlingly echoes, again, in many models of political leadership. Self indoctrination. Indoctrinate the others around us.
So much does the author want to donate Dan a socially acceptable future that there is even a hint that his crime has some justification as a social critique.
I agree that the role of the family as a more selfless decency is a heartening theme and the Tsiolkas effectively bestows on these poor people a positive role amid random acts of violence and personal disorientation.
So, there you go. I have read a book that has offered an interpretation, or explanation, of selfish and singleminded youth (is this a comment on the modern generation?), the school based training of a closed selfish and singleminded upper class, the comforting power of the family, and the acceptance of the fulfilment of homosexuality. OK. Done. But I found the language without music (intentional?) but I thought it was read very well -- with compassion, appropriately paced.
But despite any increase in understanding the human condition I may have gained from it, I really didn’t like the book but thought it had been worth completing.
Dickens demands a certain way of reading and thinking: a nineteenth century mindset, one that enjoys several grand themes (some melodrama, please) and entertaining minor characters intermingled with the necessarily self sacrificing Beautiful People and the Evil Ones who are the main characters. Long sentences, yes, and detailed descriptions of place and create an all pervading atmosphere.
So, reading Dickens can take some getting used to. But I had read and enjoyed Bleak House many years ago, and so, with the help of Simon Vance's outstanding narrative, persevered through the often ponderous beginnings. All the while, I admired this stunningly disciplined writer -- he held together the complexities of plot after subplot for 20 monthly installments.
Slowly but surely, I was increasingly immersed in the spell of this attack on the perfidy of the prevailing British legal system. What a combination: Vance and Dickens. Extraordinarily, each sentence (33 hours of sentences) has a musicality, a balance that reflects the subject matter. Vance understands this -- he flows with what Dickens is all about: the campaigner for social justice, the satirist, the sentimentalist. What a way to appreciate the power and elegance of this writer.
But more than that. Dickens is the supreme script writer for the cinema of the mind. His characters live, and Vance, a superb actor, gives them breath.
How have I gone so long in life getting so much joy from the works of Brahms without understanding something of this great composer and his life. How many times has my heart been lifted listening to his violin and piano concerti, his symphonies -- oh, why did I start making a list, all his works are all wonderful.
Upon downloading this series of lectures,a new and eminently accessible view of Brahms was revealed. I've only just finished listening and I am still under its spell.
Yet, for the listener who knows little or nothing about classical music, let alone who Brahms actually is, this would be an inspiring introduction. Professor Greenburg is funny, insightful, compassionate, and at times, delightfully satirical -- in short, a clever and effective communicator. Infectious, really.
Surely the sign of a really good book is when the last words have been spoken and listeners find themselves disappointed at having been abruptly separated from people and events that have been a real part of their lives (in this case for nearly16 hours). Well, if that is the case then this qualifies as a Really Good Book -- it ticks all the boxes.
The narrator: great voice, acted out the roles very convincingly (change of accents and voices very well done) and, best of all, didn't differentiate male and females voices through changing pitch. The writing was vivid. Elegant and succinct prose endowed each sentence an energy which created settings and personal characteristics.
While this was a crime mystery, that was only part of it. In fact, despite the urgency of the plot, for me the people became the most interesting aspect because The Cuckoo's Calling (clever title) was also the story of the lives of many individuals. Cormoran Strike, for example, is the detective, but he has his own compelling story which entwines throughout the central plot. I found myself caring about his well-being along with the decisions that Robyn will make about her life direction, and I was also repelled by, or drawn to the many other characters that moved in and out of my life through this book.
I had not read any of J K Rowling (Robert Galbraith) before but this book demonstrates what a talented writer she is and why she has been so very successful. I hope this is the beginning of a series.
Food barely comes into this easy and enjoyable listen But, read with enthusiasm and commitment, it is pleasantly escapist as our non-cook questions her urban professional lifestyle with its associated disillusionments and dishonesty. Within a few days, she finds her true life path in a small town in Texas where people are honest, accepting and community minded.
Then, there's the little matter of Mr Tall Dark and Handsome (enigmatic, but of course).
Didn't want this book to end. But please don't read it without first reading the others in the series.
Delightful narrator, lovely Irish accents (I didn't realise how many Australian expressions were from the many Irish settlers). Humane, friendly, heartwarming. Medically informed. Escaping into the small village of Ballybucklebo where people genuinely care for each other. Wonderful characters. Highly recommended.
I had only recently seen the film, The Devil Wears Prada and I certainly recommend seeing or reading that book before enjoying this one. For enjoy you will -- well, I did anyway. And the first rate narrator, Laurel Lefkow, enhanced the characters who were delightfully real.
It's about the racy cut-throat world of New York fashion and is probably as relevant to most readers as a fantasy novel. But the author managed to insert some pretty interesting real life conundrums about the role of the woman in a highly competitive and pretentious workplace and they were artfully, romantically and sympathetically resolved.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable novel. It was human, gentle, very intriguing -- and altogether rewarding.
The plot was beautifully crafted: stories of different individuals in different times and places, skilfully melded together against the background of the science, emotions and creativity involved in creating perfumes.
I persevered with this novel because I had enjoyed Mitzner's first, A Conflict of Interest. But perseverance was required. It was too long, some of the key characters were uninteresting. Althought it was written in the first person by a man who was in pretty straightened circumstances, and the narrator needed to reflect a wide range of deeply felt emotions, it was read with urgency and desperation without any let up.
But, continuing to the end was indeed rewarded with an interesting conclusion.
I look forward to Mitzner's next novel. He is well informed and interesting where legal issues are concerned and an engaging author with creative plots. But in this novel, I just felt that he was just trying too hard and overwriting.
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