I really loved Martel's "Life of Pi"--a fascinating and engaging story. I had hoped to indulge in more fascinating stories by this promising writer, but evidently he hadn't yet honed his writing skills when he wrote these stories. I found all of the stories in this collection to be tedious and never really leading to an interesting conclusion. The "Helsinki" novella was so depressing, it took real effort to get through it. The "Discordant Violin" story just lacked interest; it was perhaps too ambitious for Martel to try to describe the power of a musical experience in his (here) underdeveloped style, and the way the main character hounded John Morton afterwards was a weak device intended to allow the author to express the anguish of the Viet Nam war second-hand, and it really didn't make any sense to me. "Manners of Dying" was an interesting concept, but I found the repetition of the warden's letters unnecessary and irritating. The continuous "blah, blah, blah" in the background during the "Mirror" story was an especially irritating device, although not completely ineffective.
If you read "Life of Pi", quit while you're ahead. If you didn't, make sure to read it, because Martel really made a lot of progress beyond this book. I wouldn't recommend this book, however.
With a substantial literary style and a story line complex enough to keep you fully engrossed, this novel is a satisfying read. You are led along the twisting and intertwining paths formed by a family's secrets, and you experience all of the surprise and emotion as the secrets are carefully revealed. Highly recommended!
This was a truly engaging story. Not a complicated story line, but that's what I liked most about it. I enjoyed the two narrator perspectives, and I thought the narrators were both quite good. I am always seeking a nice long novel that keeps me engaged with the story 100% of the time; it's a rare treat to find one this enjoyable. Highly recommended!
This was one boring book. To its credit, it kept me listening all the way through, but I only hung in there because I assumed that the story would pick up (since it is a Grisham story, after all). It ended before that ever happened. Hours of pointless detail, a plot that was far from compelling and characters that were poorly developed, if developed at all. This was my first Grisham book--bad choice. Skip this one.
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