I loved Margery Allingham's mysteries as a girl - such style and elegance. While the narration of The Fashion in Shrouds is pitch perfect and a delight, sadly the writing and the social attitudes in the book are terribly dated. The prose now seems mannered and overly fussy and I found myself impatient at times. But the scenes with Albert Campion's valet, Lugg, are so brilliant that I always went back for again, hoping to hear more of that rasping voice croaking out his sly and cynical zingers.
I really hate to say this, but I think Jenny Sterlin has done Dreaming of the Bones a real disservice. It sounds like she's just reading the material for the first time and trying out different ways to present each character. The result is that none of the characters have an identifiable voice and sometimes the accent and the tone in any particular scene is just all wrong. She drawls a lot and sometimes has an arch tone so it sounds like the words she's reading were written by Noel Coward or Oscar Wilde. A mess.
One of the nicest things about Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street books is that the author is clearly very fond of his characters - and readers are, too! Bertie and the gang have been given really short shrift in this latest installment. A little more care and love, Mr. Mc.-S! The characters are worthy of fuller and more interesting happenings in their lives. And Bertie (and Stewart) must be liberated from the dreadful Irene!!
This Gamache novel dragged out to such an extent that I became really impatient and almost wished I was reading the paper version so I could rifle through the pages and skip to the end. The mystery, as revealed at the end, was pretty interesting, but it took way too long to get to it. I couldn't enjoy her usual recounting of the food and the friends because it felt way overdone, like she was out on a limb and maybe didn't know where we was going. Her editor should have sent her back to work to trim away all the padding and reorganize the whole thing.
Robert Glenister does a magnificent job as the narrator of the second Robert Galbraith Cormoran Strike novel/mystery. The story is compelling and complex enough to warrant at least a second listen, but Glenister's performance puts it in the top two or three of all the many Audible recordings I've listened to. His mastery of a huge variety of accents, vocal character and even gender is astounding, but it takes pulling back from listening to realize how good he really is - while he's talking, the listener is thinking only of the story and the characters. Robert Galbraith has a worthy partner in bringing Cormoran Strike to life!
Intricately plotted, a near perfect mystery/thriller and pretty well written within that genre, it is painful to have to interrupt listening. You will NEVER guess the ending. Narration is very good as well.
I love Edith Wharton's writing and how, for her time, she challenged society's perception of women. But time has taken its toll. The study of Lily Bart, sympathetically and yet clinically carried out, fails to resonate with today.
I may not feel fondness for them, but I can usually grow interested in unlikeable characters as I come to understand the history or motives that drive them, or even the necessities of the plot. Liking the character is the least of my requirements for a compelling read. In this special case, I spent the entire considerable length of this recording feeling my dislike grow into loathing for the main character and feeling worse and worse about listening. What was the point of this unremitting avalanche of hatred, with every plot development and nuance carefully detailed? She comes across not as mentally ill, but just as a really crummy person.
Why bother listening (or reading) about a person who is unremittingly self absorbed and selfish, who has no redeeming qualities and who is swindled by people equally selfish, albeit more glamorous and well dressed? In my case I guess I was holding out for some meaning beyond that there are people in life one should avoid. The only lesson I learned was to avoid Clare Messud.
I disliked the narration as well, but given how awful the character was, perhaps that was good reading.
Allan Gurganus offers listeners the rare gift of a beautifully crafted piece of fiction and a reading that displays its every nuance. I loved every minute of it and find myself thinking of the book and hearing his voice long after I've finished. The warm and humor of his work, both the writing and the reading, could seem "folksy," but it's deeper than that, and the insights seem more hard won. It left me with a feeling of gratitude that we have this guy around.
Everything about this book and the reading is just about perfect. The narrative is skillfully constructed to reveal character and events; the prose is witty, insightful, often funny; the main characters are extremely engaging; and the reading is skillful, especially since there are numerous characters and a wide variety of voices and accents. What is really special about this book, however, is how the author addresses several really important issues in the context of a romantic comic novel - love, loyalty, families, parenting of adult children, aging, racism, xenophobia. It's so satisfying that when I finished I started it all over again, just to be able to listen and hear how well structured it is.
I will say that I had my doubts for the first few minutes, but I was hooked the minute Mrs. Ali came on the scene. A real winner.
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