When I was in high school, I distinctly remember studying the novel (Huck Finn!) and learning that it takes three things to make a novel - plot, conflict and character. The last one must somehow be transformed by the first two. Well, this author - and her publisher, her very willing accomplice here - must have been absent that day. They had to include the words "A Novel" in the title so you would not confuse it with a grocery list. I gave up on this book 8 hours in - 8 HOURS - because in that entire time we still had no PLOT. We had a situation - famous ballerina gives up jewels for a mysterious reason - and 8 hours in that's still ALL WE HAD. I think only readers who are just mad for stories (and I use that word loosely here) about ballerinas or Soviet Russia should get this book. I found it to be a major snoozefest. The only reason I gave it 2 stars was the narrator's performance, which was very good.
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.
This was another of those books rich in atmospherics and poor in plot. I made it well into the 9th hour before I gave up. Why are so many books like this? Who praises them in the first place? Is it enough that an author is of a certain background or ethnicity? Should not he or she also know that a story needs A STORY. Conflict! Characters who WANT SOMETHING AND CHANGE!!! Ugh.
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