I am sure others will review this book and write more eloquently than me. I will state, however, that I consider the book to be well-written, and it touched me deeply in myriad ways. Cassandra Campbell narrated the book in a world-class manner; easy on the ears and very convincing.
If you are familiar with the first two books of the Magdalene Line (The Expected One and The Book of Love), and if you liked them, then you will, in my opinion, consider this offering even a notch higher in quality and storytelling. I believe that through what was probably a huge amount of research on the part of the author, we have to stop and, at least, consider her beliefs and the arguments she presents to defend them. Even the author's notes at the end were enjoyable.
There might be others who will review this book and give it low marks. Perhaps one should consider their motives. It is easy to be cynical of love. Only the brave push through the sorrow to attain it. And, as far as Kathleen McGowan's skill as a writer is concerned, she is very skilled. Everyone who reviews on this book is entitled to their opinion, but I know a great writer when I read one.
Now for my soap box: as with many of the more recent audio books, I am disappointed that there is less and less ... or none ... incidental music. I believe we are being short-changed by the publishers. Music is every bit important in an audio book as it is in a movie. It actually rests the ear. But, though this audio book does not have any incidental music, do not let that keep you from making the purchase.
I anxiously await the fourth book.
Worth Your Time
I liked how Betty Smith's characters (except, perhaps, one or two) could have so many hardships and yet, somehow, never give up.
Carrington MacDuffie's performance was excellent. Her voice range is such that her portrayal of the male characters is as convincing as the women characters.
Yes, I could have listened to this book in one sitting, except for the length of it. However, I did listen to the last four hours in one sitting.
Our Book Club had this as our February 2013 book to read. One of the things mentioned in our discussion was that what you felt about the book might depend a great deal upon the age at which you read/listened to it. Several of our members read the book in school. Now as older adults, with life experiences and having children of their own, the book meant more to them. I am so very pleased that I had the opportunity to listen to this book. There is a reason that it was named one of the books of the century by the New York Public Library. Carrington MacDuffie's reading of it, brought it to life for me. If you have never read it before, or even if you have, I believe this audio version is one which you will appreciate very much.
In the Primary Phase, one reviewer (Vance) gave the series a very low rating. It seemed odd to me, as I had listened to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th phases with no problems. Yes, I know I'm listening to them backwards, but it doesn't matter, as they are all fun. As I write this, I have not listened to the Primary Phase where Vance gave his review, but I have listened to the Secondary Phase, which also is a remastered version, as opposed to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th phases, which are not.
Here is what I found from the Secondary Phase. I always download the audio book to the iPod side of my iPhone, and I listen a lot while driving. Though I had no problems with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th phases while driving, I had quite a bit of a problem with the Secondary Phase. It seems that some of the voices for some of the time have been mixed at too low of a volume. I'm not sure if the recording engineer mixed the stereo pan too far left or right, but here's what happened. While driving in the car, a voice would drop so low in volume that I had to turn up the radio dial volume (I have my iPhone connected to the car's stereo system)...then the volume on the next voice would come booming through, and I had to quickly turn the volume back down. After about 15 minutes of playing with the volume, I gave up on listening to it in the car. Eventually I finished it, but I did so with my iPhone ear phones stuck in my ears while on my walks. There was still a problem with the volume swing of the voices, but not to the extent that I had while listening in the car. Again...no such problem with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th phases.
One fun thing about the Secondary Phase is that is provides us with an audio interview of author Douglas Adams. I found it very enjoyable. It is a shame that he died so very young. I think the interview is worth the purchase of the audio alone. If you feel you can deal with the volume swings, then make the purchase, as the story and the acting are both great.
What can be said about a classic by Mr. Dickens that has not already been said? For me, I would merely add these two thoughts: 1) Charlton Griffin performs amazingly as the narrator (easily one of the best on Audible if not thee best) and 2) finally another audio book producer has come along who understands the importance of incidental music placed within an audio book.
This last point is a huge one with me. In the past, most audio books of any quality DID have some music within them, if only brief interludes between chapters. Of more recent times, the music has disappeared, and thus the overall entertainment experience has degraded. I have made this point to Audible and received genuine lack of concern on their part. After all, why should they care, when their money is coming in any way?! But...they should care. It's about the art; the overall art of the audio book experience. Music is the icing on the audio book. Without it, it's just someone reading a book.
Great Expectations does not have cars blowing up or blood flowing everywhere, and so if you are looking for that kind of a book, you will be disappointed. But Great Expectations is a well-written book by an author who, while on earth, had a firm control of the written language and an audio book read by a narrator who is clearly one of the best.
The author of the book Seabiscuit (Laura Hillenbrand), once again, delivers a great read (or in this case, listen). The narrator, Edward Hermann, turns in a world-class performance.
Like another reviewer, Jeffrey from Georgia, I found myself wondering why I had not heard about Louie Zamperini before now. After listening to this saga, it truly seems impossible.
The book relates how Mr. Zamperini when asked about his ordeal responded (and I paraphrase), ..."if I knew then what I know now, I would have killed myself". The story truly leaves one wondering how he ever got through it all. And, if you ever had any doubt in your mind as to whether or not we should have dropped the atomic bomb, as awful as it was, your doubts, I believe, will be gone after listening to this book.
I do not understand the one and two star ratings. Most of the reviews on the internet are far and away five-star ratings, and the book is deserving of same. I found that the book at times left me angry and my stomach tied in knots because of what Louie Zamperini and the other POWs had to suffer through, but that speaks of the strength of this author. This book is easily a candidate for an epic movie.
Do yourself a favor: purchase and listen to this audio book.
This is a book that will take some time to capture you. But, like all great novels, at one point it will, and when it does it will not let you go.
The book is much too long and complex to describe to you, but it is one book which I will never forget. Do yourself a favor and download the audio and...if at all possible...download the highest quality sound. This is important for full enjoyment.
I should say that there are some musical interludes, which adds some nice touches to the audio. It would be nice if other audio book producers would be a little less clueless and understand the importance of music to an audio book, as it is with TV and movies. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, as the credits "rolled" at the end, the composer of the music was the author himself.
I highly endorse this audio and encourage you to download it and let it take you over.
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