This is another great story about a very depressive detective. Unfortunately, Dick Hill seems to be the narrator for all of the Wallander novels. He's fine when speaking like a real man, but he slips so easily into an infantile, nasal voice when speaking for just about everyone except Kurt Wallander, which ruins them as real characters. His female impersonations are a joke for the same reason. I'm afraid I'm going to have to default to the written word for the most recent four books in the series. I can't stand Hill any more!
I liked this book a lot, as it's extremely well written and tells interesting stories about a likable character who has a wealth of interesting experiences over a lifetime beginning in 1910. But the book's structure frustrated me. Not because I got lost as one after another of Ursula Todd's many lives (and deaths) morphed into the next and time shifted accordingly, but because I expected to see more obvious connections and threads in and between her many stories, as one does in Colum McCann's "Transatlantic", the best book I've read in a while. As in "Transatlantic", where real-life characters such as Frederick Douglass and Senator George Mitchell make more-than-cameo appearances, Eva Braun and Adolph Hitler figure in an interesting story line in "Life After Life", adding to its appeal to me. Don't be put off by my three stars, which would have been 3.5 if I'd had the flexibility; try this one for yourself. Having read a number of reviews after finishing the book (the "Most Helpful" reviews currently on Amazon.com are very helpful), I realize that I probably missed many of the literary, religious and other allusions which others say lie under the surface of "Life After Life". You might not.
This barely deserves two stars, in my opinion. A sentimental fiction that revolves around Hollywood characters in 1962, the present, and in-between, with Italy thrown in for good measure. None of the characters is rememberable, the use of Richard Burton (with a fiction created around him that's almost too stupid to bear) is beyond the pale, and the constant time-shifting is schizophrenic. Even the male protagonist, Pasquale, is unremarkable, and I spent the whole book waiting for him to make a correct decision - or any decision, for that matter. The way the author wraps up the tale, updating us on what happened to all the characters, suggests that he had a publishing deadline to make and had to deal with them all in one chapter instead of many. Why this book got so many great reviews is beyond me.
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