Sugar Land, TX, United States | Member Since 2010
While this story is placed in a time of great turmoil among nations and within communities, this is a very small story of its time - almost the opposite of an epic during epic times. Ireland between the two World Wars had its own Civil War, agonizingly dealing with changes on the political scene, yet this story shows how the people were still dealing with the ancient morals and superstitions that had guided them for centuries. Perhaps because of the sociopolitial uncertainties, clinging to the familiar may have felt like the only safety afforded small vulnerable villages. Roseanne is one such vulnerable person, spending the vast majority of her adult life institutionalized in an asylum, the reason for which has been lost to time and missing records. As she writes her own memoirs for whomever may find them in the future, we see the tragic events that have lead her to where she is, helpless in the face of religious and legal forces wielded by a zealous priest and unsympathetic family. Parallel to her diary, we learn of a record written by that same priest telling her story, but with many differences. Who is right? Are either of them right?
This poignant story explores choices made, their motivations and interpretations, the reliability of memory and ultimately the relevance of memory once fate has taken a hand. The narrative focuses mainly on two characters: Roseanne and Dr. Grene, her psychiatrist who is trying to discover why she has been incarcerated for over 60 years. We meet through her writings and his research the supporting characters who have impacted her life since childhood, but Roseanne is the heart of her own story. 4 stars instead of 5 because I wished to understand some of these supporting characters better.
I think I might have had a harder time getting swept into this story without the beautiful reading by Wanda McCaddon. Her voice becomes Roseanne's, especially at age 100, and she also gives us a moving portrayal of Dr. Grene, trying to do the right thing after failing to see the humanity of this ancient lady entrusted to his care for so many years.
I’m afraid I have to throw a wet blanket on the love fest over this book. For me there were just too many problems with how the story was rolled out.
I was intrigued by the premise of an atmospheric (Louisiana) mystery mixed with coming-of-age in the face of tragic events. This story could have taken place in any upper middle class neighborhood in any city, any state. No atmosphere beyond frequent comments about mosquitos and an essentially irrelevant chapter comparing Baton Rouge to New Orleans that pretty much proved my point by describing Baton Rouge as the normal city compared to New Orleans’ exoticism. Having a narrator without even the hint of a southern accent put the nail in that coffin.
The majority of the story is taken up with the un-named narrator’s pathetic angst over the object of his obsession. And the obsession goes beyond creepy even within the norms of hormone driven teenage fantasy. Much of his fantasizing is fairly explicit and bears no resemblance to love or even a recognition of right and wrong. A scene at a drunken party nearly made me quit the book altogether. For all of his apparent worship, the boy really just objectifies Lindy, leaving her an empty shell of a character. The first person narrative by a kid who has no insight or empathy means that we see everyone around him through his eyes – mean, selfish and emotionally disconnected.
I could not buy into the notion that his erratic behavior and the fact that he himself was a suspect in the rape (not a spoiler – we learn that in the first pages) did not prompt more engaged action by his parents. This was a string left dangling by the author – when damning evidence that led to suspecting the boy were discovered, the only response we hear about is his mother constantly crying. No one followed up, nothing was done.
Finally, the wrap up. Within the last hour of the book, suddenly all of the cookie crumbs are swept together into a pile and questions that should have been investigated years earlier are opened up, doors are unlocked and there’s the answer, and our narrator explains why this has made all the difference and he can see clearly now. I found it unbelievable and manipulative. And I don’t buy for one minute who he turns out to be writing his narrative to.
I enjoyed this selection as a refreshing change from the myriad police procedurals and crime thrillers that recycle the same old characters and the same old plots. William Heming is a true original, remaining completely invisible as he indulges his obsession to exist within the lives of those to whom he has sold homes – searching their photo albums, eating their food, sometimes even creating secret nesting places where he can hide and observe. Sinister and decidedly creepy, there is also surprising and welcome humor as Heming takes care of his community by dishing out his own style of justice to those who are less than model citizens. He cultivates an affable, easygoing but forgettable personality to maintain his invisibility, and it’s easy to be charmed by this façade. But through his first person perspective he reveals the darker side of himself. The flashback sections of his childhood were the most riveting for me, revealing the building of a sociopath through his own eyes – with a few convenient omissions he may or may not remember. This reminds me of the kind of stories seen on the old Alfred Hitchcock Hour – not gory or violent, but seriously twisted and impossible to look away.
Maybe if I didn't have such high expectations for Russo’s writing ability I would have enjoyed Straight Man better. And to be fair, the writing IS good – it’s the story that disappointed. Underachieving academics trying to survive their own mediocrity in an atmosphere of budget cuts and departmental backstabbing had potential and started out well, but the whining and self-pity got old and I just wanted to tell everyone to grow up. The choice of first person viewpoint didn't help, as supporting characters can only be known through the protagonist’s perceptions, leaving them somewhat flat. It seemed that Russo tried to fluff them up a bit through silly quirks, but it didn't work well for me. I much preferred the subtle ironic humor of “Nobody’s Fool” to the forced silliness of “Straight Man”. At one point Devereaux’s mother chided him for his literary laziness saying he had “become a clever man”. That line summarized my feelings about Russo’s effort here.
The editor's summary describing The Jonah Watch is obviously the summary of another book. I have made it through half of this book and so far it bears absolutely no resemblance to the description. What I have been listening to is the story of the crew on a Coast Guard cutter, focusing slightly on a new sailor and his difficulties getting used to ship life. I have jumped ahead in my iPOD and later chapters just continue the sea story. There is no character named Megan, no dreams, nothing that matches the summary. Furthermore, I can't get into the story I'm stuck with because of poor writing and droning narration. I'm returning it today.
As you read through reviews for this offering, you'll see that those who already know and love the story through the full book version also enjoyed this dramatisation. I am one of these. But if you have never read or listened to the full book, it would be very hard to understand what's going on as the audioplay is essentially an abridgement of the story, losing a great deal of the character and plot development. That's the reason for the 3 star story mark - it just doesn't stand alone for the uninitiated. This really is a story that deserves a complete hearing. The voice actors are superb, especially McAvoy and Cumberbatch, but I did drop one performance star for the somewhat scratchy quality of the sound effects.
Neverwhere (the book) was my very first Gaiman experience, and it got me hooked. If you are at all intrigued by the story premise, do yourself a favor and go to the source. Gaiman reads the entire story himself and does his usual remarkable job.
Having seen (and loved) the movie numerous times, I have put off reading the book for a very long time, concerned that it would not live up to my expectations. Having Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy and Bruce Willis permanently etched in my mind’s eye as the main characters, it’s impossible to separate my response to the book from my feelings about the film. To my great delight, Sully in the book is every bit as ironic, rascally and endearing as Newman portrayed him, so my fears were groundless. The other residents of North Bath are fully developed, bringing in more characters than the film did, and significantly changing others.
This is very much a character study. Don’t look for action, mystery, or broad comedy. What you will get is a well-paced slice of life, saturated with subtle and ironic humor, that illuminates what makes people tick in a small dying town. All of the characters are flawed, many to the point of being unlikable. But Russo gives them enough dimension to allow us at least some sympathy for what has brought them to where they are now. Fully understanding the story behind Sully’s relationship with his dad makes make you wonder why he is merely philosophically dysfunctional instead of stark raving mad. His humor and native intelligence makes him one of the best characters I have read in contemporary American literature. I would give anything to be able to meet him for a beer at the White Horse just to shoot the breeze. I suspect I would fall in love with him. As Toby observed, he’s a man among men. Only unlike her, I mean it as a compliment.
I'm familiar with Susan Hill for some of her ghost stories, and downloaded this free offering because I enjoy her writing. This is not an especially compelling story outside of the context of the main character's detective series. But the writing is very good, the narrator excellent, so based on this snack sized sample, I am interested in looking at more of the series. Thanks for the freebie, Audible.
Have you ever had a really good meal – satisfying from the appetizer through the entree – but when you get to the dessert it is a huge disappointment. That bad dessert is the last impression of the meal, and in spite of the good stuff that came before, you tend to rate the overall meal based on that last taste, and it’s a downer. That’s my take on “Wayfaring Stranger”. I enjoyed the story right from the beginning, forgiving some minor plot holes, because of the terrific writing, interesting plot-line, and characters that I felt were pretty genuine (I really love Grandfather and Herschel). There are lots of layers to the story, making the connections between events and characters pretty mysterious, but I was sure that Burke had something up his sleeve that would clear everything up. After all of the really nasty goings-on, I wanted to know who was the puppet master and why. I kept hoping that Weldon would finally break loose from his passive anger and kick some serious butt, but he just kept playing it safe. With about ¼ of the book to go, things started to run off the tracks. It was looking less and less likely that shadowy characters would be revealed with their motivations or that all of the dots would be connected. Alas, the ending was abrupt, inconclusive, and unsatisfactory. So a book that was easily a 4.5 for most of the way, dropped to 3 in the final three hours.
I was sure I was going to give Will Patton a solid 5 for his reading until the Australian movie director came into the story. Sorry Will – your Aussie accent sounds like a poorly attempted Jimmy Cagney imitation. Drop a star.
There are some books that are so wonderfully written and perfectly narrated that they are trophies to be cherished. This is one of those trophies. Too many books start well but seem to have no idea how to follow through to a satisfying conclusion. Many contemporary authors could learn from Adams how to create characters that a reader can believe in and commit to. Few human characters that I have read in recent books can compare in depth and dimension to the rabbits of Watership Down. The creation of a culture and language for the rabbits and other creatures rivals Tolkien’s masterpieces. Trying to choose a favorite is impossible – Hazel is of course the hero, but my heart also belongs to Big Wig, Fiver and Pipkin for their courage, to Blueberry, Blackberry and Dandelion for their lightness of spirit, and to Kehar the gull just for being himself. I loved the fables reminiscent of the Brer Rabbit tales that offered deeper insight into the culture, and the life lessons gently taught through the various adventures in creating the new warren. This may not be a cute bunny story for preschoolers, but school agers and older should be able to understand and handle the dangers of animal enemies and rivalries. Certainly television and movies show greater levels of violence than is found here.
Though I had thoroughly enjoyed the book in print, never did I have such rich voices in my head as those provided by Ralph Cosham’s superb reading. The toughness of Big Wig and General Woundwort, the brave innocence of Fiver and Pipkin, and the off-beat uniqueness of Kehar are perfectly voiced. Those who have not read it in a long time may be delighted to rediscover an old favorite. I give this wonderful classic my highest recommendation.
I've waited a while to write this review to sort out why I felt let down. I thought I would get to meet an adventurous larger than life character on the scale of Hemingway. What I got was a rather ordinary, insecure guy who changed his personality to meet his perception of others' expectations in order to fit in, and went to sea and to the Klondike for money, not for adventure. I was disappointed to get through the Klondike period to learn only that it was hard work, inhumanly cold, he got sick and came home broke. His socialist convictions seemed tainted by a desire to get back at the capitalist world for his own poverty as much as for general injustice, and his passion to write was his plan to escape the "Work Beast" world he hated. There didn't seem to be an adventurous spirit in the man - he came across as resigned and cynical. I didn't gain hoped for insights into the inspiration behind "The Sea Wolf" and "Call of the Wild".
So was I disappointed in the book or in the man? I think it's both. In his forward, author Haley states an intent to present the whole man, warts and all, and to avoid the pigeon-holing of previous biographers presenting The Adventurer, The Political Activist, The Drunken Womanizer. In that he succeeded, but I think that by trying to remain steadfastly neutral he ended up writing a work filled with facts but little heart. The facts make it clear that London was a man of many contradictions, but Haley does little to explore and illuminate these contradictions. London never fully came to life for me.
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