This exquisitely written and beautifully read book takes some time to draw you in. As a prior review notes, not a lot 'happens' but the beauty of the story is in the fine details of the life of a family. Even the minor characters become vivid over time. Growing up on Long Island (the setting for the book), I can attest that it accurately captures the time, location and emotions of the period. Highly recommended.
For about three quarters of this book, I was in awe: I cared deeply about the characters and their torments and was intrigued by the hint of something ominous. This is the King that I like the best; I have never been a fan of over-the-top horror.
When moving to the final quarter of the book, things became more predictable and far less believable. Maybe I shouldn't expect any level of subtlety from King, but I have to admit that I was ultimately disappointed.
If I had stopped listening after 3/4 completion (which, by the way, would have been impossible!), I might have given it 5 stars.
Despite my final disappointment, I was consistently impressed by the narration.
Even though I read numerous other enthusiastic reviews, based on the basic description, I couldn't shake the feeling that this would be a jazzed-up travelogue. That sort of book doesn't appeal to me. And I'm not a huge fan of the memoir mode. Nevertheless, I took a chance. Was I glad to discover that my original concerns were unfounded! To quote another reviewer "I LOVED this book"! Although I haven't finished it yet, I can't wait to get back into my car, so I have an excuse to continue listening. The author/narrator reads beautifully, and the book is filled with sweet pain and humor. This is an audiobook with deep heart.
Listening to this book was a strange experience. For the first third, I have to admit that I just tolerated it. Although the narrator had a wonderful voice when speaking from the perspective of the young girl, I found the portrayal/voice of her father somewhat grating. Throughout, I found that the 'footnotes,' referencing literary works, were distracting for an audiobook, even though I probably would have enjoyed them in written form. Nevertheless, by the second third of the book, I was drawn in to the main character and her quirky band of friends, really caring about all of them. Strangely, the last third of the book switches tone quite a bit, becoming almost a mystery, which the main character strives to solve.
Ultimately, very satisfying and engaging, but --if you find yourself, like me, somewhat disinterested at the beginning-- hang in there. It gets more engaging over time.
I am a new audible member and this was one of the first books I downloaded. Although I had never heard of this book before, I am glad that I trusted prior customer reviews.
In addition to the engrossing characters and plot, it gave me a vivid sense of a circus culture that I never before had found intriguing. I particularly liked the voice of the elderly narrator. The juxtaposition of the young narrator --full of drive, energy and longing-- against the helplessness of his frail, elderly self, was particularly effective. I really didn't want this book to end.
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