This book is a real pleasure to listen to. It's not a plot-driven book, so be forewarned, if that's what you're in the market for. Instead, it's an empathetic, nuanced, and often poetic look at a certain historical time and place. Jones is just an extraordinarily humane writer; every character is painted in painstaking detail and with unusual sympathy. This is one of my favorites of the audiobooks I've listened to.
I'd like to just second those reviewers who can't take Scott Brick. I hope a Brick backlash is brewing -- I can't stand the guy, and it seems that he gets all the plum narrating jobs (yes, I just wrote "plum narrating jobs"). His voice has this smug, self-congratulatory slickness to it that drives me up the wall. It kind of weirds me out that I have such a strong opinion about an audiobook reader, but as a loyal audiobook listener, I've spent hundreds of hours listening to Brick's voice, and I just can't take it anymore. No more Brick!
That said, this book is great. It really changed the way I make decisions at the grocery store, and I've been recommending it to everyone I know. But unless you can stand Scott Brick (and if you like Brick then we have to be enemies), buy the book in hardcopy.
One more thing about reader Shelley Thompson! How does someone get to be an audiobook reader without knowing how to pronounce "pico de gallo," "La Jolla," or "Maryland"?
This is John le Carre at his most satisfying: dark, ambiguous, and whip-smart. Le Carre introduces a hard-boiled detective type in this mystery, a conceit that works here surprisingly well. He takes us on a labyrinthine game of chase through the corridors and archives of a British outpost in Cold War Germany. As always, le Carre is wry, cynical (but never callow), and constantly up to something.
Unfortunately, the audio on this book is so bad that it's practically unlistenable.
Absorbing and insightful, self-involved in the best way. Wilsey is an expansive, genuine writer who rarely strikes a false note. I thought Wilsey's story was fascinating, and even more interesting were Wilsey's careful, wry, and sometimes angry attempts to make sense of his childhood. Wilsey is matter-of-fact, never letting himself off the hook or descending into self-pity. In other audiobooks, I've found the narrator, Scott Brick, difficult to deal with, but not this time; I thought Brick's narration here was understated and unintrusive.
I'm sorry to be the lone voice of dissent! To me, the book seemed not funny and sad, as I'd hoped, but alternately crass and maudlin, see-sawing from chest-pounding bathos to smirking, cheap jokes. Also, you may want to know that Scott Brick, who narrates Sideways, also narrates this book. To me, Brick's narration is difficult to deal with: his hushed, intense tone suggests a level of drama that's not present in the book, and his catch-all voice for women is subtly -- but increasingly noticeably -- weird.
I have to preface this by saying I'm only about three hours into the audiobook. So far, the book itself is fine, but, good Lord, the narration is bad. Anna Fields, whoever she is, keeps launching into these goofy, artificially deep Forrest Gump-sounding voices whenever she reads men's dialogue. Who told her this was engaging? Seriously, she makes them all sound like the Jolly Green Giant. And for the female protagonist's voice, she does this wispy, breathy, totally fake sounding chirp. Really intrusive. Ugh.
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