When downloading this book, I was unsure which reading to choose. First I noticed that this reading is about 2 hours longer than the other one, meaning that the other recording was read at a much faster clip. I listened to the audio samples and decided this was the superior choice. I was not disappointed. Ms. Caruso is a fantastic storyteller. I have noticed that even excellent male readers sometimes annoy with their falsetto "female" voices, but Ms. Caruso does an excellent job with the men in this story, while of course doing a wonderful Carol. She brings the 85-year-old dialog to life with a delightful, graceful rhythm that flows as naturally as if it were written last year. I wish she had narrated more books that interested me. Maybe I'll check out "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" just for her.
As for the book itself, I was surprised by just how relevant Mr. Lewis's depiction of life in 1910s Gopher Prairie remains today. We really have not changed much as a nation. Or perhaps we've circled back around. The story of Carol chafing against the small town that thinks the world of itself (and thinks rather little of the world) is poingnant, personal and well-told, while people and attitudes of Gopher Prairie are clearly recognizable in our current national characer. Listen to this book and realize that America exists in the struggle between Carol and Gopher Prairie. Indeed, America <i>is</i> the struggle between Carol and Gopher Prairie. In 2005, as in the 1910s, GP has the upper hand. At other times the Carols of America have, and at some point they will again. But one without the other would not truly be America.
I highly recommend this Audiobook as a wonderful reading of one of the Great American Novels.
I downloaded this book for my wife and I to listen to on a road trip. I was expecting a competently written thriller. With so much buzz, I was expecting something like: Foucault's Pendulum if it were written by John Grisham. We were surprised to find that this best selling book is really poorly written. And we're not snobby readers, either: my wife reads, among other things, multiple popular detective series, and I read everything from political biography to sci-fi and comic books. But this book had us laughing out loud and shouting at the narrator in frustration.
Basically, the writing is just poor. The basic points of the mystery were easily deducted only a few hours into the listen. The clues that the "world renound symbologist" who is also a Da Vinci expert, and the "professional cryptologist" spent hours and hours trying to crack were obvious to me and my wife from the get-go. We were shouting at the narrator: "Worst! Cryptographer! Ever!" Also, this book has over 100 chapters for a book that lasts, what -- 16 hours? How many pages did these chapters last in print? We were laughing out loud at the narrator's announcements of "Chapter One-Hundred Six" and so on. In the final chapter, Langdon declares that this adventure did not turn out like he'd expected. I replied to my wife "that makes one of us."
In addition to the writing, the narration didn't do the text many favors. I found both his French accents and women's voices unconvincing. Since the romantic interest is a French woman, this was a problem.
In the end, I rated this book two stars instead of one since at least it wasn't boring (also it had one plot twist I didn't see coming -- perhpas because I'd lowered my expectations by that point). It has some humor value for its ridiculousness.
This book reminds me of old college professors who are able to drain every bit of life out of their subject despite their passion for the material. The story doesn't seem to have an overarching narrative to hold it together. Well, it does, nominally, but it doesn't really work, at least in my oppinion; I nearly gave up on the book a few times. The narrator's crisp Scottish (I believe) accent was the most redeeming feature of this audiobook. One thing I would recommend would be to listen to the appendix at the end of the book first for definitions and such.
The book is pure LeCarre, and pivotal in the larger LeCarre world. Like his other books, the first half is a bit slippery (at least to the American reader). But once the ball gets rolling, the momentum is formidable.
This audio book is extremely well acted by the narrator. The problems I had with this audio book were:
1) the audio was a bit muddy at the beginning, but that quickly got better.
2) the very nature of this story makes its translation to audio a little less than ideal. When reading a complex mystery, it's usually helpful to be able to flip back and remind yourself of who a character is, etc. That's much more difficult here.
If you are better at remembering names than I am, then then I fully recommend this audio book. And as I said, the book is expertly narrated. I, however, will probably be reading the rest of LeCarre's books in print.
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