I'm not going to comment on the tragic beauty of Hosseini's story, which everyone else has remarked on in their reviews. I'm commenting on the production of the audiobook. The narrator is Atossa Leoni, the actress who played the female lead in the film version of the Kite Runner. She is clearly multilingual, and comfortably makes both English and Farsi sound natural. The performance, however, is very flat. Leoni reads choppily, taking a breath every few words, sounding passionless and killing the rhythm of the author's voice. If this book had been produced ten years ago, I would say this is fine. But today's audiobooks are performances, with the likes of John Lee and Jim Dale bringing life to the page and adding incredible value to the production. I found this book very hard to listen to. I kept telling myself that the oppressive listening experience was in keeping with the story, but really, the producers should have either coached Leoni to perform differently or found someone who could do the delivery justice. Still, for those who "read" on the go and don't have time otherwise, it will do.
I found the characters and story of World Without End just a little less engrossing than Pillars of the Earth. It took some effort to get into, but was still a very enjoyable experience. John Lee plus Ken Follett equals a must-buy, as far as I'm concerned. I'd say start with Pillars, then once you've fallen in love with Kingsbridge, World Without End becomes more attractive. Both books are also great educations in the realities of medieval life and architecture and timeless political scheming.
Great story, and John Lee does an amazing job reading/acting/breathing life into it, as he always does. Even though it's long, I didn't want it to end. The sequel, World Without End, is also worth listening to.
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