This book was definitely enhanced by being in audio version. The narrator sounds a lot like Garrison Keillor, which is a good thing, in my estimation.
I almost ditched the book after listening to the first 40 minutes or so. I couldn't seem to connect to the characters, and it just didn't grab me. Not too much later, I was in love with the book. The plot premise was intriguing: the protagonist, a royal screw-up in life, faces a decision about his own death. As the book progressed, I couldn't wait to hear what would happen next. The dry humor of the author crept up on me, and his mercilessly clear yet mercifully understanding approach to the characters rang true. The author has an eye for multifaceted human beings, deeply flawed and yet somehow familiar and engaging. Once I started enjoying this book, I feel in love with it and couldn't wait to hear the next installment.
Maeve Binchy's gifts are her excellent eye and ear for character. Each of the people in this engaging novel is finely drawn and believable. Binchy makes the reader care about them and their lives. I particularly enjoyed the character of Emily, the American cousin who seems to have a knack for untangling other people's messes. Her ingenious and practical tactics are a pleasure to consider. The action in this story revolves around relationships and feelings. I listened to this book as I was driving, and it made me eager to get back into the car. My few minor quibbles involve a somewhat inaccurate description of a baby's development (she is speaking in two-word sentences before her first birthday) and the lack of foundation for the romance Emily eventually finds, but overall this was a charming book that I enjoyed immensely.
What sets Robert K. Tannenbaum's works apart are his intriguing characters and the sense of decency and morality of his protagonists. This book interweaves several subplots, mostly successfully, and succeeds in holding the reader's attention throughout. Good triumphs over evil, but not without a heck of a struggle!
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