A novel about the manners about the "haute bourgeois" and the british aristocracy, Fellowes is following the footsteps of Austen, Trollope, and other 19th century novelists, and doing it very very well. The book is humorous but not hysterically funny, but is also, in my experience, true. The behaviors, concerns, desires of the characters repeat themselves in the US as well. I have a few minor literary quibbles, but repeat, minor. Its also exceedingly well read, with much subtlety.
This is a broad sweeping book, and it helps if you are interested in art history and world history of the late 19th and early 20th century, or are interested in making things, or love fairy tales. As with other Byatt novels, some parts are challenging, while others are magical. For me it brought a great revival of my own interest in making things. I also became caught up in the historical changes, which increasingly build with a sense of doom toward World War I. There are a number of theses and themes interwoven in the cycles of childhood and adulthood that I found interesting and will not mention here to avoid spoiling the plots. There are many stories looking backward while time marches forward. There are, perhaps better on paper, somewhat lengthy catalogues of world events for each period of the book. But I've rarely been so unwilling to part with a book and plan to buy it again in paper. The narrator Rosalyn Landor is extraordinary, and manages male, female, children, magical animals, and multiple foreign accents and latin with great success. Highly recommended.
The first of this series is a really fascinating book, somewhat surreal but also touching and human. The reader uses a scandinavian accent at times, and an american one at others; it worked. The next two have degenerated. I'm not sure if its the sneering BBC uppercrust voice that the new narrator gives the lead character, the fawning and almost racist portrayal of Assad, or the writer. But I'm out of love with these books.
Its hard to review one of this series, rather than the group. When I listened to the first one, I liked it, but wasn't addicted. These are not flashy action adventures. However I enjoyed the book, and went back for more; by the end, I was very bummed to run out of books. Over the series a few strengths in these books have struck me as part of their charm. The main protagonist is, yet again, an aging white policeman. In his case, however, he really is aging, not some fantasy of superhuman strength who can do anything and always gets the the sexy supergirl. Sometimes he makes mistakes, is clumsy, gets sick. He has chronic insomnia, implied PTSD. The series leaves out focus on sexuality in favor of the foibles and tragicomic behaviors of people in small town Posadas. In this New Mexico, the focus is on Latino/American culture and Native Americans don't seem to exist (a weakness perhaps, or the author avoiding writing about a culture he isn't familiar with). I will probably relisten to them again later, because they are pleasant, and plausible and I love hearing about New Mexico, its landscape, culture and food. Read them in sequence, because they do evolve. PS, Rusty Nelson is a perfect reader for this role and has amazing range.
Increasingly, he seems very slow... and worries issues to death, so that the book became boring and I stopped caring about the characters. The balance of plot to description is off on this one, and the plot, perhaps, rather weak, designed to show off the author's research.
Somehow, I keep getting bogged down. The story drags, although this IS Dumas, and the reader is excellent. The prose is elaborately wordy, which might read better on paper than as a listen. But if one gets bored in listening to the description of a major battle and desperate rescue, there is a problem...
Its sort of entertaining, but not nearly as fun as the first book in this series. John Lee is very articulate, but not terribly exciting as a reader. Basically pulp, and not that great, masquerading as historic fiction.
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