First of all, I found the way the book itself is written to be clumsy and contrived. It is entirely composed of supposed excerpts from diaries and journals written by each of the characters in the book. The premise that each character would create and maintain journals with such detailed descriptions, complete with dialogue is absurd. However, the story itself is compelling, and the audio presentation is superb. It doesn't have one narrator, it has an entire cast, like a radio play. One of the drawbacks of audio books is often the narrator fails to create distinct and believable voices for the characters, especially those of the opposite sex. The way this book is read, by a multitude of talented readers, you can easily identify with each as a 'real' person.
I found it to be a delightful listen. You really do get wrapped up in the story, even though Hollywood has butchered it beyond recognition. I would say that it was probably the best audio presentation of a book that I've come across so far.
There's probably a great book buried somewhere here, but it's impossible to find. I've never seen such a bloated overwrought mass of verbiage in my life. This novel is in serious need of editing, and I mean brutal trimming.
I cannot understand the reasoning behind the endless meanderings that take place in the story. For example, at one point the two protagonists are forced to take refuge in a convent. Fair enough. At this point the author goes into an extended discourse on the history of the convent, where it originated, it's ties to other religious orders, it's leaders, its rites, practices, and so many extraneous details so as to numb your senses and make your eyes glaze over. And it's all completely irrelevant to the story. COMPLETELY! And it's not a brief sidebar, it goes on for about an hour (at least it seemed that long to me).
The author does this over and over, taking pains to explain details that have absolutely no bearing on the story. If any of these details were in some way entertaining then I guess you could justify it... but they simply aren't that interesting. They are monumentally boring.
I did manage to finish the book, but it was a chore rather than a pleasure. I was just too stubborn to admit it was a waste of money (and time invested).
Do yourself a favor and avoid this, or perhaps try an abridged version. I tend to avoid abridged versions, but this book may be the exception. It needs to be trimmed by at least one third, and maybe one half.
It is a shame, because you can see that he is a great author, some of the passages are simply brilliant. This truly could have been a great novel. It just isn't.
I loved the Lord of the Rings as a book. I've read it well over 10 times. (closer to 20). What I didn't realize until I heard it read out loud was how much of it I skipped over while reading. I never particularly liked "The Hobbit". I thought it was clearly a children's book, and I dismissed it as such. I found that listening to the first book of the Rings trilogy was that it was very much in the same vein. Tolkien clearly evolved as a writer during the writing of the Rings trilogy, and the 1st part of the trilogy starts out very much a children's book. It has a number of silly children's songs that are quite frankly embarrassing to listen to. While reading them you have the option of course to simply skip them, but while listening to it you are forced to listen to pretty pathetic renditions of what are pretty stupid songs (the word inane comes to mind). It's hard to blame the reader too much, after all is he supposed to compose the music himself? What you get is the same melody (if you can call it that) repeated interminably for every song. It makes you want to shoot him just to shut him up.
Eventually I just gave up listening to it. It was spoiling the good memories of the book that I've had all my life. This is one book that is better read than listened to.
Just for context, I love Charles Dickens. I just hate this novel. It shows Dickens at his worst, which is when he uses his novels to preach at his readers. This novel is so heavy handed and over the top that it can't be taken seriously. His characters are so one dimensional that they are totally unbelievable. This is a constant weakness in Dickens' work, his heroes and heroines are so pure and virtuous that they border on becoming caricatures. In this work, this weakness is pronounced and coupled with the prolonged bombastic discourses that Dickens engages in on political and social issues creates a fatal combination.
I couldn't finish this audiobook, although I have read the novel to completion. I found myself forcing myself to listen to it, just to get my money's worth. Eventually I gave up, listening to an audiobook should be a pleasure and not a penance. Try another of Dickens' novels, for he is a truly great writer... just try to avoid him when he climbs on his soapbox. (try The Pickwick Papers for a real treat.. a bit slow starting but a joy to be savored slowly)
Although this isn't his best novel, it certainly translates well into the audible book format. The narrator should win some sort of award for his reading of this book. It's not just a reading, it's a one man show. He breathes life into each character, the accents are truly incredible. At some point you might fear that he might go too far, and detract from the integrity of the novel.. but he manages to keep it under control. The book itself suffers from Dicken's usual flaws, his tendency to hyperbole and over sentimentality. His lead characters are always too one dimensional, the 'good' characters are almost saintly, and as such unbelievable. But I'm still one of his biggest fans, his writing is wonderful, even if he sometimes strays into occasional silliness and pontification.
I read this book many years ago, and I don't remember too much about it except that I had an overall negative impression of it. I was a big Stephen King fan at the time, and it was probably the only book of his that I didn't like. So these many years later, I thought I'd give it a second chance in the audible format.
At first I was very pleasantly surprised, I found the first half of the book to be superb. But alas, it wasn't to last. Somewhere along the line, Mr King seems to lose his way almost entirely. It almost seems as if he was being paid by the word, for he indulges in seemingly endless expositions of meaningless details. Scenes and dialogues are repeated over and over, until you just want to hit a fast forward button and get on with it. With a little editing this could be a great book, but as it stands, its probably one of his worst efforts (of his 'classic' period.. I don't even count his latest works, and those 'dark tower' abominations) The narrator is quite good, but some of the dialogue is quite offensive (racist, profane etc) and although you can't blame him for reading what is written, I found some of it a bit hard to stomach.
I would recommend this book to anyone, with one condition... Don't give up on it too soon. This book starts very slowly. It was Dickens first book I believe, and it starts out in a very stuffy formal mode. It purports to be a documentation of the activities of the "Pickwick" club (hence the name the Pickwick Papers). The story takes a while to get going, and I'm afraid many might not have the patience to see it through. Once it gets going, you don't ever want it to end. The narration is first rate as well. Sometimes you find yourself mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the writing of the author, and the magnificent reading of the narrator. It also contains some of the most endearing characters that Dickens ever created. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, its wonderful.
Idiotic rubbish. If your IQ is larger than your shoe size give this a pass. The book itself is so bad that no narrator could save it. The first story is actually the best (not that I made it all the way through). The author has a vivid imagination, and I wasn't put off by the graphic depictions of deviant behaviour, I was put off by the almost palpable stupidity of the stories. Eventually I gave up listening to it, it just wasn't worth it.
The Talisman was one of my favorite Stephen King books (I don't quite understand how 2 people are listed as authors, does one type with his left hand while the other types with the right? but I digress...) The story is interesting, the characters are diverse (love em and hate em) and the narration is quite well done. At first I didn't like the narrator's manner but I got used to it and overall I found him to be a plus overall. The major problem with the story is one that is common to many books, the ending. It seems to drag on forever and tries too hard to cover too much ground. That is a minor quibble however. Stephen King's books seem to lend themselves well to the audio format. He is a master storyteller above all, and it's enjoyable to hear his works read.
I almost gave up a couple of times, but my miserly ways got the best of me and I managed to finish it. The biggest problem with this book is the reader. I thought that having the author read her own work would be a plus instead of a minus, but it all comes down to competence. If you want a good audio book you need a skilled and experienced reader. A good reader brings life and believability to the story. They have to be able to create multiple personalities, both male and female, with different voices and different accents. Ms Tan unfortunately does not have this talent. She's especially bad at doing the male voices (no surprise). The story itself is also pretty bizarre and hard to get into. At the end of it all I found that I was glad I finished it, but it would have been so much better with a professional reader.
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