I love work which helps me understand and relate to how other people lived in other times and other lands. This historical work on the history of the Irish Famine is just such a book. I am Irish by heritage and some of my maternal ancestors came to America to flee the famine. But I had no idea...
The author details not only the terrible blight that caused the destruction of the potato crops upon which the Irish subsistence farmers depended to survive, but also the horrific consequences of the arrogance and indifference of the Irish aristocracy and the British government, and of the despotic and destructive decisions that added so much to the suffering and death. The Irish wouldn't call the events a famine; they would call it a deliberate starvation. You'll come to understand why. You'll also come to understand the economic realities that, in some cases, drove the impossible decisions the British and Irish ruling classes had to make.
It's a difficult story to hear, but it's true. Like the Black Plague in the 12th and 13th centuries and the Dust Bowl in 1930s America, the individual stories of human struggle, venality, suffering, death, survival and, in some cases, triumph, will both astound and confound you.
I liked what I learned about Mozart. Most interesting material. I would have liked Professor Greenberg to dial back his presentation about 30%.
He seems to be "chewing the scenery" in his apparent desire to bring the characters to life ... and to make his points. I was particularly distracted and often put off by his tendency to dramatize the reading of Mozart's correspondence - both from him and to him - in such a way as to almost make caricatures of the writers. It bordered on childish. There were many letters he read that I thought, had he read them rather than "performed" them, the meanings might not have been what he seemed to want us to believe they were.
Overall, I'm glad I listened to this course and will likely listen to others from Greenberg on the Great Masters, but this was a bit disappointing.
I had to struggle to stay with this book for quite a while. The author takes quite a long time to build the stories of the various characters and my struggle was mostly with the narrator whose voice I found terribly grating and whose narration I found less than stellar. The harshness of her voiuce was distracting most of the time and her characters were not easy to keep track of.
Having said that, I'm very glad I stuck it out because I did eventually get caught up in the building drama in spite of the seemingly mundane setting. As the characters began to take on depth and become "real" and recognizable, I began to appreciate the skill of the author in building tension. And when the denouement finally "hit," I gasped.
I really liked this book. It sparked curiosity, humor, fright, sadness, anger and frustration and I really came to care about the characters. It was of "Gone Girl" caliber, in my opinion. I have to wonder what a spectacular experience it might have been if the narration had been better.
I'd still recommend it, however. Be patient while you get to know the characters and eventually, you'll be completely hooked.
Maisie Dobbs is an investigator in London in 1930. There is nothing predictable about her. She's a fascinating, complicated, multi-dimensional character whose depth continues to grow as I get acquainted. The new narrator took a bit of getting used to, but I find I like her performance just fine (although I found her anglicized pronunciation of the Frenchman Maurice Blanche's name to be distracting, reduced to Morris Blanch.)
The Dobbs stories contain a bit of mysticism and this is the darkest so far in the series as Maisie and her contemporaries continue to deal with the aftermath of WW I. I have developed a new appreciation for the scope of that terrible conflict as a result of this series. In spite of its darkness and the serious nature of her investigations related to finding out about two lost airmen in France, the story is not a "downer." It's more "realistic" ... with some spooky stuff.
The resolution will strain your credulity a little bit, but I can deal with that for the sake of a really good story... and this is a really good story.
I liked "Pardonable Lies" a great deal and I am not hesitating to purchase and download book 4 in the series.
Normally, a Great Courses audible course is a treat I indulge in when I am on the treadmill. Today I was on the treadmill and started this course. Although I've been listening to or watching Great Courses for years - many dozens of them - It is the first Great Masters course I've tried. I became so thoroughly engaged that I couldn't stop listening. For the rest of my day off, while I went to the market, folded laundry, finished Christmas gift wrapping and did some holiday baking I listened. While I made our dinner I listened. When I normally would sit down in the afternoon and read for a couple of hours, I listened instead. I finished it in one day.
This is a fascinating. engaging, amazing story. I have always rather like Beethoven's music, but I had no idea about his life. What an amazing character! And Professor Greenburg really brought him to life and brought him into MY life. He made the man seem as real to me as John Lennon or Annie Lennox.
The Professor is passionate about music and I learned a fair amount about how Beethoven impacted the history of western music. I will seek out some of Beethoven's work and listen with more interest and appreciation thanks to this course.
I got this book on one of Audibles sales and then bought and listened to the next three. I thoroughly enjoyed them all, but this is the one that roped me in.
I enjoyed the great gobs of fascinating history we got to learn about in such an entertaining manner, but I really loved the exciting, cheeky, brave and fascinating adventures of the Historians of St. Mary's. But I especially loved the amazing Max - she of the red hair, great courage and smart ass.
There is also violence and sarcasm and some rough language, so it's not "just chick lit."
Ms. Rahm did a fairly good job. She could have used a bit more distinction among the voices, but I didn't lose the thread, so she must have been OK. She handled the British barbs with great skill, so the humor often drew an out-loud chuckle from me (which only got me odd looks once - while I was sitting in a waiting room waiting to get a mammogram.)
Thoroughly enjoyable first book.
So, this was THE novel of mid-20th century, eh? Well... it beats me why.
Perhaps I'm insufficiently "existentialist" or perhaps I am bored by sociopaths, but this one really left me cold (get it?) The main character is perhaps one of the flattest, least appealing, least sympathetic characters I've ever encountered and that is compounded by an essentially plotless, repetitive, pointless "story" that seemed to have almost nothing of value to say... about anything.
At just over 3 and 1/2 hours, it certainly barely qualifies as a novel and, while the narrator did an OK job, I recognize that the poor sod had very little to work with!
Like Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go" and that ghastly piece of drek, "Wicked", this appears to be one of those books that get rave reviews and leave me scratching my head in puzzlement.
I liked this book a lot. I like all of the Virgin River books, but this and "Virgin River Christmas" are my two favorites in the VR series. I'm not sure what it is about Paige and Preacher and their story that captivated me, but they truly did. Preacher Middleton (John) is a archetype - well, pretty much all Carr's VR characters are! But he's a skillfully drawn archetype - the gentle giant who falls for the tiny helpless woman and rescues her.
But, of course, this is VR, so the women are rarely actually helpless or stand idly by being rescued. Paige's courage and strength also rescue Preacher from the aloneness that suited him -- until it didn't.
Yes, it's a romance, but Carr doesn't write just love and lust. She also writes as much as possible about real people in real situations and how they meet their challenges.
And along the way you'll meet more of Virgin River's quirky cast of residents and fall a little bit more in love with the little town. The book carries Jack and Melinda's story forward as well because, of course, it all starts with them.
It must also be said that Therese Plummer is as much a part of Virgin River as Jack's Bar. She doesn't have a wide range of voices, but something about her narration takes me into the characters in a way that just reading cannot do. I have read several of them, and they just don't "come alive" for me the way Plummer brings them to life when I listen to her read them.
This isn't heavy reading, but it's great story-telling. Enjoy.
The narrator (OMG, the Narrator!!)
The horrible, pointless ending.
Where to start?
Her little-girl voice made the protagonist (Samantha) sound like a petulant teenager, rather than a highly educated, young, up-and-coming attorney from a top-tier law firm.
Ms. Tabor has no male voices at all. In fact, other than her rural twang, she has almost no variety to the voices she does have.
It was often difficult to tell who was speaking. Her manner of reading sucked all "life" from the story.
She lacks the ability to convey emotion so she seemed more to be reading a corporate policy manual than a novel.
This is not John Grisham-quality work at all. The protagonist has all the depth of a soda cracker.. and is just about that interesting - when she isn't simply annoying. In fact, none of the main characters had all that much depth with the possible exception of the Gray brothers ... sorta.
The entire plot seems to be mostly a vehicle for discussing the evils of coal companies without Grisham having put any appreciable effort into actually telling a story.
There is almost no courtroom time in this Grisham at all. He sort of tiptoes up to it... and then simply goes around it.
And finally, having spent 16+ hours listening to this 14 hour reading (I had to go back and re-listen in some parts because of the poor narration) the book simply ended. Plunk. Important plot lines were left hanging because the protagonist made a rather lame and not very solid decision and the book was over. And there was I going, "What ...?!?"
It stuns me to say this, but I'm giving Audible back a John Grisham novel. That's amazing.
I liked this book OK. The plot is a good one and there are some well-drawn characters with depth and complexity whom I came to enjoy and care about.
But there was some stuff that made me go, "What?!" The first was the part where, because Vernetta - a associate in a fairly small but apparently prestigious law firm - just won a really big civil suit, she ought to do a high profile criminal case. Um... what?
The second was when she feels the need to see her OB-Gyn before she goes off the pill. ... What? Then it got downright weird when her gyno, upon learning that this young, healthy couple wants to make a baby, decides to do a "fertility workup" on them, starting with a sperm sample from her husband. This was laughable. All I could think was, "There is no OB on the planet that would order that before she has even gone off the pill, and certainly no insurance company that would cover it!"
But my favorite was when, as the big important murder trial is coming to an end and the three defense attorneys are worrying about whether or not the prosecutor will tell the jury that the accused knew her husband was a cheating philanderer, it dawns on all three attorneys that no one has thought to interview the housekeeper of the victim and the accused - including, apparently, the police or the prosecutor. WHAT!?
And it all cases, the author needed the results of these "What?" devises to move the plot. She ought to break that habit.
If you can ignore this kind of thing, this is a pretty decent first attempt.
Caveat: The choice of narrator seems strange. Almost every important character in this book is a female. The exceptions are Jefferson, Vernetta's husband; Riley, the managing partner in her firm; and Dave, one of the attorneys. But the narrator is male. He does the male voices - both black and white - fairly effectively, but I think he did a poor job overall on the female voices. His range of "female" seems very narrow and it's often difficult to tell which of the primary female characters is speaking.
I have the second book in this series and I'm going to give it a try. I'm rather hoping things will have improved.
The premise and the plot are both are both clever and fun - if you don't mind just ignoring certain issues related to a ... er ... "maturing" woman on a ship with almost no sanitary facilities that have to do with reality. But if you can reign in your inner skeptical grownup, you'll have fun with this story. What you won't have fun with is the narration. She does a nice job with most of the voices and the accents, but the modulation of her voice is painful and when Jacky whines or screams at full volume, be prepared to snatch those earbuds out of your ears quickly, lest you be rendered deaf. I found it irritating and highly distracting.
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