Although this is a beautifully written (and beautifully read) volume, to which initially I listened with delight and interest, I found the last section--the end--to be simply bizarre and a great disappointment.
This is a remarkably boring book. I generally enjoy Donna Leon's book, I enjoy slow books, including mysteries, but it's been almost three hours of listening and still little has happened. I don't know that I'll finish it.
A trope of many hiking books is how I hiked the Big Trail even though I'd never hiked before and was out of shape, started out with a pack full of useless stuff that I could hardly carry, and made a lot of other really stupid mistakes, until I gradually became competent and learned to love the trail. This theme gets old after a few books--no one, after all, can quite come up to Bill Bryson's level of incompetence or hilarity--so I was delighted to begin a hiking book in which the author was fit for the trail and knew what he was doing. And I continued to enjoy it. The author is one of those guys who regularly puts in 20-mile days--after all, he's there to hike--and doesn't seem to be a jerk to boot. I recommend this piece of hiking literature; it'll give you a feel for hiking the AT without having to hear some of the usual hiker neuroses.
Having spent a number of years around a diverse group of Indians but never having traveled to India, I find this series utterly charming. The book stands up well as a murder mystery (unless you like a little gore and sadism in your mysteries), and the characters are real and lovely. Please record more of them.
I'm not sure what to say about this book. I was hoping for straightforward information about successful strategies for coping with an aging body and mind that don't always agree about sex. And indeed, there is some helpful information. But there are also a lot of personal reminiscences, read in a fairly plummy tone, that at times seem like too much information about our author's sex life. I feel like I'm reading Ladies Home Journal.
I know I'm a sucker for hiking tales. I'm a hiker, and I read most things on the topic I can get my hands on. Within that body of hiking literature, I'd say this one is fairly interesting and motivating. It does make me want to hike the GR10; after I finished the book I went right out and bought the trail guide. You should not, however, expect this to be Bill Bryson hikes the Pyrenees. That's not the author's intent. Instead he takes you on his 50-day trek, full of gorgeous scenery, interesting characters, the usual hiking snafus and problems, and some physical misery. I enjoyed it and will probably listen again, this time with guide book in hand.
The reader did an excellent job. And, thank heavens, his pronunciation of the names of French towns was accurate---otherwise the listening experience would have been difficult.
My only caveat is that the author seems concerned you'll think he and his hiking partner may be lovers rather than just friends, so he makes any number of jokey references to the fact that they are not. These jokes become annoying fairly quickly. Aside from this bit of "homophobia light," I enjoyed the book immensely.
There's a charm and shallowness to this book, with its many short segments and quirky characters, that make it a good diversion while doing such things as running, gardening, knitting, or whatever. I'd not call it great literature, but it is well written and has a certain silly sensibility that I found fairly delightful. The reader was outstanding, with a light Scots accent that gives a feel for the characters without being unintelligible.
I'm afraid I found the story fairly dreary and depressing. The book itself is well written, and I thought the reader did an excellent job, but we know what's going to happen. Reading this book is almost like slowing down on the highway to stare at a car wreck. Also, of course, there are plenty of delightful books to be read about Paris in the 20s if that's your particular interest.
This is a seriously silly book; the only thing to recommend it is Frances McDormand's narrative. The characters are so ridiculous that, as one reviewer said, you just want to slap them. I couldn't finish it.
After hearing others read Rumpole, I've come to appreciate Bill Wallis's rendering enormously. He gives Rumpole just the right combination of self-deprecation and bombast--so that I to continue to delight in hearing about Chateau Thames Embankment, the Timsons, QCs, and, of course, She Who Must Be Obeyed.
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