This story is set in one of the most beautiful areas I've visited, and, like the setting, describes characters and contexts that are at once well-known and the hidden paths, seemingly discovered by chance. The novel tells many stories about how an intricate matrix of crass and benevolent characters make life-choices by following the paths to "what they want" and "what is right", and the tension when those paths are not always in parallel. Even though the "players" have flaws and can cause pain for each other, each choice shines by expressing eventually some of the better parts of human life.
There are many examples of these choices, a small example is how Jess Walter describes the growth of one of the characters who has devoted himself to building a cantilevered tennis court along the beautiful Ligurian coast. He eventually discovers that unlike the photos he's seen of tennis (he's never played), every point in tennis includes a swing that misses.
The romance, for me, is more poignant because it optimistically allows some of the best parts of human love to be expressed not through a standard "happily-ever-after" resolution, and that life includes the harder, more complex, "what is right" choices.
The narrator Edoardo Ballerini brings a depth to the characters, Italian pronunciation, and even does a Welsh voice that you'd recognize. Well done!
I just finished listening (for the second time) this book. I remember consuming the story when it came out in one big gulp the first time I read it, but this time I distinctly cherished each piece. The vast variety of characters (all well characterized by narrator Stephen Hoye) usually don't co-exist in the same book.This book, in its divided narratives, shows off the best of a Brooklyn young man and his American mother, the 1611 narrative of William Shakespeare's younger "cousin", and the lawyer-protagonist Olympic weight-lifter who is the Catholic son of a Jewish mobbed-up con man and his Nazi war bride. How do all of these disparate elements work together? Well.
I recommend the book because it is a thoughtfully done mystery that expresses well each main character's inner motivations for the interesting circumstances and mystery they find themselves in. It also throws in the history of Shakespeare, his work and a take on what might have been his life in 1610-1611. Well done!
Like the previous book "The Keeper of Lost Causes", I really liked the characters and the story, BUT the narrator's version of Assad is JARRING. My take on him was that in the previous book he was from Syria, a more brooding, sophisticated and intelligent person accidently in a lower-level police janitor job, whose misunderstanding of the idioms of his new home makes his verbal outbursts humorous. Steven Pacey makes him sound like someone who is funny because he doesn't get it...a person who could not be effective on his own... not the same thing... I hope the new book has a narrator that doesn't distract the story and the interaction between Morck and by giving Assad a silly sounding dialogue...
I listen to it in spite of how it sounds, though...
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