WARNING: SPOILER ALERT - I MENTION HOW THE BOOK ENDS. I found it very hard to sympathize with or like the 2 main characters of this book - Mamah and Frank - because they were impossibly selfish, arrogant, and otherwise plain insufferable. "Dahling, we must run away together and leave our combined 2 spouses and 9 children behind because we are extraordinary." Puh-lease. And I found it hard to believe that Mamah suddenly developed some morals when she discovered Frank was cheating people who worked for him - didn't bother her to dump her young children on her sister or leave them with a bedridden friend so she could be with her lover. So when the ax murderer steps out of the shadows to chop Mamah up, I was almost cheering him. But I think the author did the best she could do with the history of these two people. I just don't understand why she thought their story was compelling enough to novelize. I did not care much for the narrator, who more performed the characters rather than interpreted them. She also had some odd ways of talking - she seemed to think people from the Midwest always pronounce Berlin as "Bear-Lynn" and gave odd pronunciations to otherwise common words. Skip this one.
If I hd known before I purchased this that it was first written in serial format on the author's website I would never have purchased it. It reads like a laundry list. "First, I did this, then I did this, then I tried that and then I tied this to that and I got water." This goes on for HOURS. I felt like the author was just trying to show me how much research he did rather than tell me a story. And the main character had zero inner life. I don't know about you, but I think if I were stranded on Mars I might, oh, I don't know, reflect on the meaning of my life, the meaning of my death, man's place in the universe - SOMETHING. I know I'd at least miss the people I left behind. But the most emotional or introspective this castaway on Mars gets is, "I wonder how the Cubs are doing." Wait for the movie. Don't bother with the "novel."
A decent piece of historical fiction, but terribly marred by a poor performance by the narrator. She seemed to be be constantly in a rush, reading the entire book as if it were one paragraph. It was breathless! It sometimes took me a sentence or two to realize we had switched locales or characters. She also had a very set cadence and read every sentence as if it had equal weight and meaning. I suggest the print version.
I was so disappointed in this book after falling madly in love with Oliveira's first novel, "My Name is Mary Sutter." This book felt to me underdeveloped - like a student project. I felt like after the publication of "Mary Sutter," her publisher said, "What else ya got," and Oliveira pulled this out of an old drawer. And note to all narrators - we don't need you to do French-accented English when characters are French. We know they are French by merit of the fact that the story takes place in Paris. It was just incredibly distracting to have major characters speak poorly-done French accents throughout. ICK. Stop it!!! I will definitely read/listen to Oliveira's next book, whatever it may be, because I thought "Mary Sutter" was the debut of a major talent. But three chances is all ya get.
I gave up 2/3 of the way through this listen. Let it be known that is 24 hours - a whole day. And yet this book failed to grab me. I found it to be overly long. I don't think there is a point in the book that Tartt does not belabor - she told me 57 times that Theo's mother was a saint, his father a jerk, etc. But worse, there are only abut 3 hours of plot within the first DAY of listening. Tartt seems to be in love with the sound of her own voice, her own (very estimable) powers of description and gift for dialogue. But she needs the hand of good editor - someone who can say "kill your darlings" and get on with the story. A real disappointment - tho read by a very good reader.
I did not enjoy this second book in the trilogy nearly as much as I did the first largely because of one the narrators - Bernadette Dunne - reads as if she is voicing a cartoon. Her characters come off as caricatures, not people. Really too bad. I also could have done with out all the hymn-singing, even tho they were written by Atwood. They were just silly and pulled me out of the narrative. I recommend listening to "Oryx and Crake," then reading the next two in the series. I think this would have sounded better in my head.
I would recommend this listen with a few caveats. I thought this book started out very well - I was extremely interested in the characters and the story line, and at one point even gasped out loud as a plot point was revealed. But after that point - about 1/3 of the way thru, the story itself seemed to run out of gas, as if the author had come to the climax of the story too early. Then I began to get frustrated with some of the characters, who fell into predictable patterns - Talmadge was always "confused; Della always "didn't understand," Angeline was always "quiet" and "watching." It got somewhat boring, always knowing how the characters would act and react. That said, I loved the writing which was very moving and poetic. And the narrator was superb, really involved with the emotional lives of the characters without being overly dramatic. I would love to read Coplin's next work as I think she shows great promise as a writer. She just had a bit of difficulty with this first effort.
I had always been curious about this book, which I understand is the first mystery novel. It was very good, though marred a bit by time, especially in the way the women characters are drawn. But what made this a great listen was the way the several narrators brought the characters to life. The best by far was Patrick Tull's reading of the butler obsessed with "Robinson Crusoe." Definitely worth listening to if you are a fan of British lit - just let yourself get lost in the performances and don't worry about the silly women or the improbable plot.
I am a huge fan of Masterpiece Theater's "Brideshead Revisited" and have tried to read the book at least twice. Just could not get through it. But this Audible version is the next best thing to the television production. In it, Jeremy Irons channels all his co-stars from the BBC series - my favorite is his John Geilgud impression - bringing the whole series alive again. He brings Waugh excellent prose to life in a way the physical book just couldn't for me.
What a great book! Read a glowing review of it in the NYTimes and the audio book did not disappoint. The story is a continuation of Grenville's "The Secret River" - also a great listen - and I really recommend reading/listening to that first to get the full impact of this story. What a compelling character Grenville has crafted in Sarah - I rooted for her, my heart broke for her and I was uplifted when she was uplifted. Emma Fielding does a top-notch job of capturing Sarah's unique voice and making it her own - no play-acting here, just real feeling. Excellent all around.
This was really a wonderful listen. The book plays with the idea of class and what people will do to rise. In this case, the main character, William Thornhill, is London's lowest of the low. But when he is sent as a convict to Australia, he discovers a class of people even lower than he is - "blacks," the aboriginal people. Through really complex characters and a well-developed story line, Grenville looks at what one man is willing to sacrifice to climb the social ladder - a question she is asking of Australia as a whole. In Thornhill's case, the price is high - very high - and the payoff not as sweet as he thought. I loved this book, especially Simon Vance's narration - he is just excellent and really brings to life every story he reads. Now, on to download "Sarah Thornhill," a continuation of the Thornhill family's story.
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