Historical books set in Great Britain, in particular early 20th century, are just my cup of tea. My son and his wife keep pushing me to watch Downton Abbey, but my husband and I just don't do much TV, so this book was an obvious choice. It did NOT disappoint.
While I have read many books based around WWII events, this is the first that covered WWI and, I must say, it was surprising to me that I had not looked at this era in more depth - but now I intend to. Lady Almina was a remarkable woman, as were most of her "supporting characters", in particular her longsuffering husband, George, Earl of Carnarvon. The people in this era were so much more accomplished and diligent, to say nothing of educated, than we are today. It puts me to shame, but also encourages me to learn and do more.
Wanda McCaddon is my favorite narrator of books in need of a British accent, and she was superb in the "Real Downton Abbey". I could hardly quit listening and was sorry when it ended.
I have read all of Ken Follett's books, including the other 2 in the trilogy (on paper), so I was excited to get to listen to this one. The story is well-written, but it sounds as if it is being broadcast on the news. When I first started listening, I thought the reader was purposefully sounding dramatic to introduce the story, but I soon found out that this is his actual reading voice. And I need to add that I have listened to many books where the reader was heavily criticized for fake accents, etc. and enjoyed them thoroughly. This is a different level altogether - no intonation, no emotion, just that broadcaster effect.
That said, Mr. Follett's writing never fails to please, it's just a little painful to listen to.
I have always had a big interest in WWII, but happened to read about Nancy Wake while browsing for history books. What? Who? Huh? This incredible Australian's life reads like fiction, but it's absolutely true. Why did I not learn about her in school?
Nancy may have been able to get down and dirty with the best of them, but what really makes this story unbelievable is that she was a beautiful woman who could play any part necessary to get what she wanted. And what she wanted was justice for the jews and the WWII Allies. Incredible. The author does a great job of telling Nancy's story, including her formative childhood years - always a rebel. The Australian accent sounds spot on to my American ears, but you may want to take that with a grain of salt.
As they said about Margaret Thatcher, she was many times the only man in the room. For why I did not learn about her in school 40 years ago, that's still a mystery, but her story needs to be told. Highly recommended.
As a Food Network fan, Marcus Samuelsson had always intrigued me. A black chef from Sweden? A gentle, soft-spoken chef on Chopped? Something didn't add up! This book explains that, and more, and Marcus' reading was the icing on the Princesstårta, so to speak.
My DH and I had actually eaten at his restaurant (sent by our hotel concierge) in NYC many years ago and still talk about the wonderful experience we had. If only we had known who he was then! And until I read the book, I was still ignorant about his connection with Aquavit (embarrassing, but true)!
Marcus' story is sweet, intriguing, and brutally honest. Without his two mothers, he wouldn't be where he is today (literally and figuratively). And the fact that he doesn't hide his warts or make excuses for them, lets us be disappointed at times (encourages us to, in fact) is endearing. This is so much more than a book about a cook, and yet all the pieces add up to why he is such a popular, beloved, down-to-earth man who happens to be a world-reknowned chef. Even if you aren't interested in cooking, you will be fascinated by the very human Marcus Samuelsson.
I read a review of this book in one of the financial magazines I receive as a CPA and Certified Financial Planner. I was intrigued by the expose and had to learn more. As a "fee-only" planner, I have my own jaded view of the financial industry. Ms. Olen started studying brokerages and so-called financial planners with zero financial knowledge, which makes it even more interesting that she was able to go so far in her research and understanding of the industry.
Pound Foolish is a book that anyone who uses a broker, buys life insurance or annuities, or who is interested in finding a "financial planner" should read. Why the quote marks? Because most of the people who call themselves "planners" or "advisers" are sales wolves in sheep's clothing.
Ms. Olen hit the right notes for 80% of the book, but I beg to differ with the last 20% that we are all the same (which is the reason for the 4-star rating). While I can totally understand her disenchantment with the overall industry, there are some white knights (mostly fee-only planners and financial LIFE planners). Just know that they make up maybe 5% of the total number of "advisers", maybe less. Why? Because commissions are SO much more lucrative. Typical "advisers" in this industry are trained in sales almost exclusively to the point of crowding out any education about how to truly help their clients. This is why it is so easy for consumers to fall prey to them. Sad.
Use this book as a starting point, then seek out planners who are members of NAPFA and/or the Kinder Institute. Also find a "professional" who is willing to SIGN A STATEMENT that they are a fiduciary. You'll thank me later!
Well, I love all the audiobooks I've listened to - if I don't, I just return it using Audible.com's amazingly generous return policy. But this is my second book by Mr. Rutherford (first being about New York) and I love his writing and detail. Yes, some of the vignettes start and are not followed through to completion, but this is not a collection of short stories. It's historical fiction and the fact that he drops off in one year and picks up a century or two later is part of the fun to me. I especially love the way that he continues the thread of a few families through history and inserts little events that casually draw you back to the ancestors of the family.One of the odd pleasures, to me, of listening to a book that is rich with a lot of detail, like Sarum, is that I am prevented from paging back and trying to re-learn every detail of that person. I don't know about you, but I guess I'm OCDC enough that I can't quit looking back and forth in a written book because I have to visualize the whole history and don't want to "miss" a detail - which makes it take about twice as long for me to get through a long history. With the spoken word, I just listen carefully and back up a minute or two if I get distracted while I'm listening. Missing tiny details doesn't bother me so much because I'm soon engrossed in the current section and they become inconsequential.On the whole, I would highly recommend this book (especially Wanda McCaddon, who has her own section below).
New York: The Novel (also by Edward Rutherfurd)
Can't imagine a better reader - she was just wonderful.
Well, it would be impossible for me, but it is definitely hard to quit listening.
If you think you just don't like history, give one of Edward Rutherfurd's books a try. I intend to listen to more books by him and also more read by Ms. McFaddon.
No, but I would recommend it to others to read
Next to Marco? There are so many - probably his grandfather and Marco's wife
He has a great reading voice - I felt as if he was telling me his story.
The author's voice really fits the era - as if it were recorded at the time of the accident
The conversations were very interesting - seriously as if I were there as an observer.
No, but it totally drew me in to the characters.
Recommend this to anyone who wants to really "get it" about the Titanic. You won't be bored for a minute.
enlightening, fascinating, absorbing
The "real" stories about everyday things we take for granted (tea, for example) and how they came to be was extended to far away places and tied up in a big, fascinating package.
His reading his own book in an authentic (but easily understood) British accent made the book that much more entertaining.
The only part I could have left out was the last 5 minutes on global warming. Otherwise, I learned more from this book than I have from many others - and it was a very fun trip.
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