I am always disappointed when I read one of Bryce Courtenay's sequels. The first books (and I've read and loved several so far) have been excellently written, with fully-realized characters and interesting stories. They always end with a hook and a bit of a question: "What happened then?" But try as he might, none of Bryce Courtenay's excellent first books are ever matched by their sequels. In fact, it's as if he turns the writing of them over to another writer, someone who is not his match and fails miserably to deliver. My advice is to read the first of his books and forget any sequels. No matter how much you wonder what happened with the characters, how it all worked out, you will be disappointed.
Up to now, I've enjoyed Preston and Child's books, even ones about Pendergast and his bizarre family, but this one about Pendergast was my tipping point.
The excruciating detail about the make and model of guns, the provenance of collector's items, the label and year of wine--Pendergast's limitless wealth and weirdness--I found myself wondering why I was wasting my time with this nonsense.
Hey--it's audible! If I read the book I wouldn't have the advantage of doing other things with my eyes and hands while my ears and brain were being entertained. Rene does a good job of characterizing the people and describing the settings, but perhaps it was his plodding, stumbling description of various elements that triggered my boredom?
Of course it could be made into a movie or TV series. It has all the elements--an odd central character, a faithful sidekick, danger, romance, drama--it can't miss!
Please God let me not purchase another in the Pendergast series.
It made the era come alive. Detailed descriptions of living conditions--homes, clothing, food, work, sanitation--one can easily imagine oneself back then.
Do you ever wonder what it would've been like to have lived centuries ago, coping with harsh conditions we have no experience of today--feudalism, plague, witch hunts, etc.?What was it like to be an ordinary person back then? Year of Wonders describes how bubonic plague affected one Derbyshire village during 1666, through the life of one woman.
Although events are harrowing, bringing out both the best and worst in villagers, there is a goodness and humanity that makes this book uplifting and hopeful.
Geraldine Brooks' voice and narration made me think she suffers from major depression. If the story hadn't been so engaging, I would not have been able to endure her narration. If there should be a choice among narrators in future recordings, I recommend anyone but Ms Brooks.
Someday I'll learn to listen to the sample recording before purchasing a book. This narrator has a tendency to weight every word with so much drama and meaning that, like overly-seasoned, rich food, I found myself longing for relief from his narration.
Other than that, the book (which I read in print for the first time in 1985) hadn't lost its power to bring the plight of the subjects into clear focus. It is a bit dated, although Sacks apparently made an attempt to update the chapters in '94. One would have to go into more recent clinical literature to see developments in the field since then, but for the layman, this book illuminates the neurology adequately, while emphasizing the humanity of the sufferers.
Landay skillfully guides the reader into making assumptions. I don't want to spoil the book by saying more, but the end of the book was a surprise. You think you know where the author is heading, and--then the rug is pulled out from under you.
The characters were so well drawn, and then performed beautifully. Grover Gardner sure knows how kids would deliver the unerring teenage dialogue. Not only the kids, but everyone's characterization and the unspoken emotional content were unerringly interpreted by Gardner. He perfectly differentiated the characters with his spot on performance.
I don't know about the accuracy of the psychological information presented, but it felt appropriate.
Not having access to the printed book, I don't know how the prosecutor's name is spelled, but scenes in which Lejudas(sp?) struts about are all my favorites, mainly for the grim, subtly comic relief they provide.
It keeps you guessing.
This book kept my interest enough to finish the 4 sections, but despite fine narration and what are probably meticulously researched historical facts, the story didn't measure up. One of my friends (a romance novel fan and Dracula afficionado) LOVED the book. I felt that most of book and particularly the ending, was predictable. But now I think I'll have to plan a trip to the Balkans and some of the former Eastern Bloc cities mentioned in the book, just to see them for myself.
After spending 17-some hours with this book I wonder how I managed to finish it, given the narrator's breathless, dramatic delivery of every word in the book. The story was interesting enough to overcome the narration. Barely. Someone, please tell Scott Brick that the authors deliberately included mundane details to provide a release from anticipated tension. Books should be read with a variety of moods and a selection of dramatic inflections to give the listener a break.
Amusing anecdotes, particularly about the St. Bart's glitterati and their too-many-facelifts denizens, but really, Bourdain's abrasive stance and consistent use of the F word make me wonder if he's someone who has a severely limited vocabulary as well as lacking in nuance of character.
Enjoyed the Clapton autobiography so much I really looked forward to Keith Richards'. The first section was fine, but then it devolved into a drunkalogue. The narrator--Hurley by that time?--didn't help. He sounded as stoned as the material suggested. Now halfway through, someday I'll try to finish it, but really couldn't go on for now. I like the Stones too much.
After loving "The Power of One" I was eager to find out what happened to the characters. Tandia introduces more characters and does tell you what happened to them, but it lacked something. Maybe it was the personal connection the author had with Peekay in the first book--and Peekay's later life story too much a departure from the author's life. Or maybe Courtenay simply couldn't identify as closely with Tandia.
However, I continue to be in awe of Humphrey Bower's narrative skills. It was due solely to his narration of "Shantaram" that I got "Power of One" and I'm glad I did. I almost gave up after Courtenay disappointed me with "Tandia" but I'm currently listening to "The Potato Factory", and it's another winner by Courtenay.
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