I'm not normally a biography reader and didn't know much about Henry James before reading this, so it's hard to say really why I ordered "The Master." But I am so glad I did.
My interest in James arose while listening to "Reading Lolita in Tehran." James was one of the authors the Iranian women studied. I thought, here I am, able to read anything I want, and I don?t know anything about this writer that these people risked arrest to read.
And, what a wonderful book. Toibin is himself "The Master," his manner and style of writing are superb. This is what people really mean when they say someone "has a way with words."
For much of his life, Henry James lived as an American expatriate in England and Italy. The life and times of those countries are as much of James's story as the man himself. Toibin sketches the locales and cultures so vividly that I could see the garden outside the window of the house in the English countryside where James finally settled.
For anyone whose only experience with James was "Portrait of a Lady" in tenth grade, you owe it to yourself to learn something about this American legend.
Narration by Geoffrey Howard is excellent, the perfect voice for this perfect story.
So maybe Robert Ludlum did create the story concept, but he must be turning in his grave over the final story. Too much of the Ludlum careful attention to detail is just plain missing. For example, a car driving on an English motorway pulls out to the left to pass another car? Maybe this sounds too picky, but Ludlum didn't leave that type of error in the final product.
It should be entitled "Patrick Larkin's The Lazarus Vendetta." Then those of us who remember Ludlum's legacy would not have wasted our money.
The only true Ludlumesque quality was the title - it followed the Ludlum formula, "The [Proper Noun] [Common Noun]." But that's it.
I listened until the very end, out of stubbornness more than interest. It never improved.
As for narration, Scott Brick is one of the narrators I generally like, so he may have saved the tale a bit. He still has his annoying inflection with questions and accents, but overall, he does a good job.
This is a great account of one of the legendary journeys of history. It tells in particular detail the story behind the first circumnavigation of the world, the discovery of the Straits of Magellan, and the travels and travails of an intrepid commander, Ferdinand Magellan, and his brave crew.
I had looked forward to this much as I had anticipated "Endurance," about Shackleton's incredible adventure. In fact, the Amazon reviews were so consistently glowing that I ordered this despite lukewarm and even negative Audible reviews. I should have trusted my fellow Audible listeners!
Believe me, I understand the tremendous research that went into this work. I read that Bergreen used translations of the original logs of the voyage as well and historical references and contemporary accounts. You can imagine my disappointment when I realized that the author couldn't read. The narration significantly detracted from the grandeur, the magic, of an otherwise flawless work.
Just as some singers shouldn't dance, some authors should not narrate their own works. Regrettably, Mr. Bergreen is one of those. My advice to Audible listeners is: "Read this one in print!."
This was my first of the Bob Skinner crime series, and if I do "read" another it will have to be with a different narrator. Another reviewer noted strong accents, probably referring to the Scottish accents of the main characters who are in and from Scotland. This was not the problem for me; in fact the Scottish characters are done quite well; there is even a difference in the Edinburgh vs. Glasgow accents. But there was apparently little or no research done about the American terms and, most especially, places. The murder takes place in the Adirondacks, and the term is used many times, always mispronounced "A-dye'-run-dax" by this narrator. It would be one thing if only the visiting Scot mispronounced the name, but when the Americans in the story do likewise, it is very grating to the ear. I gave it two stars only because I was able to sit through the story, but the narration was a definite weak point.
Patrick Tull he was most defintely not!
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