I can see why this book won the Whitbread Prize- I enjoyed listening to it immensely. There's an interesting twist and a lot of engrossing family history flashbacks. I did think the gemstone imagery was a bit heavy-handed, but otherwise it was great.
Perhaps this book is better read on paper, or at least unabridged. I found it a bit simplistic and unoriginal. The plot twists were fairly obvious and the ending rather anti-climactic. The narration was good, although the frequent creepy-music interludes seemed a bit unnecessary.
I can't imagine reading this book now that I have listened to it with all of the wonderful narrators- a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The multi-voice recording really brought the story to life, not to mention the fact that the dialogue is great anyway. This is the first Hornby I have listened to or read, although I have seen several movies- I plan to get my hands on everything he's ever written!
After listening to this book, I have put India at the top of my "places to visit" list. I didn't realize the book would emphasize religion so much, but this had the unexpected side effect of making me feel as if I'd learned something in addition to enjoying Macdonald's hilarious accounts of her attempts to survive in and eventually master Indian culture.
I'm sorry, but this is one of the worst books I have ever read. I couldn't get through it. The characters all blended together, and there didn't seem to be much plot. Obviously someone thinks highly of it, based on the published reviews- perhaps I am missing something. In my defense, though, I've seen this novel on 2 of my friends' bookshelves, and (both times) when I asked about it, we both stared at each other suspiciously, then blurted out "I hated it!" I would love to hear a positive review so I can learn what the big fuss is about!
I too thought that it was a bit drawn-out and that the characters could have been a bit more well-developed- particularly with regard to Imogene's past- and the relationship between the two women could have been more detailed, but I suppose that helps the book to appeal to the general public. One of this novel's strengths is that this ambiguity will help it appeal to a wider audience who would not normally be exposed to descriptions of the sort of true love described in the narrative. Large parts of the story are quite depressing, though!
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