A Moveable Feast is a poignant memoir written at the end of Hemingway's life, in which he remembers his first wife, and the innocent years of their marriage, with a fine wistfulness. His anecdotes profiling the famous artists and writers are written with his hallmark spareness which, even so, is imbued with wit and humor made all the more delightful for its brevity - conveying so much with so little. A key component to enjoying this audible book is the narrator. James Naughton is simply outstanding. His pace is relaxed, and the inflections and rhythms of his voice bring the words to life. He so perfectly interprets the author's words and purpose that - truly - one can believe they are listening to Hemingway himself. A book and a listening experience not to be missed.
The quote by Vivian that prefaces the story establishes expectations upon which it doesn't deliver. The early scenes of New York and the orphan train are the best part of this book - it goes downhill from there, into one tired cliché after another. Character development is uneven - one gets the feeling that the author rushed through the most important years of Vivian's life, while Molly is another cobbled cliché.
The entire premise of the book - that, together, the two women go through Vivian's saved possessions and become entwined - is given short shrift. We are not privy to any specific items or memento that triggers Vivian's memories - which is the entire premise of the book, after all. The author leaves us outside the house, as it were, wondering what it is that Molly and Vivian are finding up in the attic. There are so many holes, and unraveled ends, that I reched the final pages feeling empty and cheated of the climax the story seemed to be building towards.
The narrator's voice and delivery were so incongruous that she set my teeth on edge. High-pitched and girlish, it seems appropriate enough at the beginning as she narrates young Vivian's story in the first-person. But it never changes - she sounds like a 13-yr-old child right to the end. Her inflection is always cheery, inappropriately so in many instances, and far too contemporary for the storyline. She speaks too quickly, with a vague Valley Girl flatness that robs many key passages of the gravitas needed and - again - the childlike pitch of her voice is simply incongruous and off-putting.
In the end, the book promised what it didn't deliver, and tolerating the narration in expectation of a satisfying "read" made it that much more of a disappointment and waste of time.
The book itself is outstanding - it holds your attention to the last sentence, and the plot turns are perfectly executed. Ms. Flynn ensures that each is airtight, so we are not compelled to suspend disbelief. I highly recommend it.
However, the two narrators - male and female - were a problem. The female did not accurately capture the personality of her character, and the misinterpretation changed the feel of the narration. The male narrator is guilty of the same problem - misinterpreting the character.
Maybe it's generational, but they both infused their reading with sarcastic and/or ironic undertones. In addition, the male narrator's penchant for over-acting when reading the dialogs of secondary characters was off-putting in the extreme.
Finally, I decided to purchase the book and read the second half, rather than listen.
All I can ask is: what the heck was William Hurt smoking when he narrated this masterpiece?! His overall reading of the book was misguided and annoying, but listening to him interpret the lines and conversations of the key characters was unbearable. After a while, I just sat back with some sort of horrid fascination and listened to him mangle and destroy and misrepresent Hemingway's masterpiece ... and then I pulled the plug.
Great novel - abysmal performance. For shame!
This has got to be one of the best "reads" - and certainly one of the top three narrations - I've ever experienced.
The premise is fascinating, and the author really does an outstanding job of unfolding everything - all the events - with truly gripping suspense. There are layers upon layers, and I was hooked, listening well into the night.
The narrator herself is an integral component of the experience. I almost always remain detached from the reading, no matter how good, imagining instead the words on the page, and how I would have interpreted them differently. However, in this case I lwas lost in in the spellbinding narration - truly a theatrical performance that lifted me out of my environment and into the story.
Cannot recommend highly enough for those who love suspense and intrigue, well written and wrapped in a unique premise.
I first purchased a less expensive audible version of this book and - try as I might - I simply couldn't get into the narrator's rendition of the classic. I balked at the thought of spending an additional, and relatively high, amount on a second version but finally bit the bullet. Well, it was *so* worth it! Ms Caruso's reading is engrossing - she captures the meaning and innuendos of Lewis' words in a pleasing voice.
I recommend paying the price - it will make all the difference in experiencing "Main Street."
I wanted to love this book, and I fully expected to. Given all the glowing reviews, and the subject, it seemed like a slam dunk to me, and I downplayed any uncomplimentary reviews.
Well, an hour and a half into listening, and I reluctantly have to say that it is hugely disappointing. I appreciate the writing and, as a window on the world as it was back then, it has its place. But to center it as the story of Cleopatra is to take a short story and stretch it into a full length biography by padding page after page after page with sidebar comments and allusions.
It is what it is. No problems with that. But it is not what it claims to be. Too bad!
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