I wasn't sure I was going to like this; I tend not to go for much in the way of popular culture, and the movie tie-in made me leery. Thank heavens I got over it! This is a wonderful book with great writing and characters, alternately deeply moving and very funny. There is a lot of depth here; the humanity and compassion of the book's narrator and those who help him through life far outweigh the cruelty of his enemies and the grinding poverty he strives so hard to overcome. It's simply a terrific book. Christopher Simpson does a superb job with the narration. The characters are so vivid and real, and he never hits a wrong note. Please give us more books narrated by this guy!
I can't recommend this highly enough. Go listen to it!
One of Tana French's many strengths is the psychological depth of her characters; the criminals, yes, but particularly the detectives. The more we find out about the crime and the suspects, the more we discover about the detectives, and the way she intertwines the backgrounds and stories of the two groups is masterful. Reading through all five of her books, none of whom has the same narrator, we experience the different detectives through their own eyes and through others. In this book, we see through the eyes of Rob Ryan, who is investigating a crime with his partner Cassie Maddox (the primary detective in The Likeness). It doesn't matter in which order you read the books; they all work regardless. The crime Ryan and Maddox are investigating here takes place in the same neighborhood Ryan grew up in, and where he went through an as-yet unexplained trauma. As the investigation progresses, we go deeper and deeper into Ryan's background and his relationship with Cassie. It's heartbreaking, riveting, and very well done.
I loved this book, and now I'll have the dilemma of choosing between Sean Barrett and Simon Vance for the Dickens I haven't listened to yet. The narration is exquisite; Mr. Barrett has a lovely voice, and when you listen to Dickens's beautiful writing in Mr. Barrett's beautiful voice . . . well, it's mesmerizing. There are wonderful characters in Martin Chuzzlewit: in particular Mrs. Gamp, the alcoholic nurse who repeatedly violates the Hippocratic Oath, and jolly Mark Tapley, who seeks out trouble and misery because there is "no credit in being jolly" when you're in a good situation. The plot is classic Dickens and if you've read much of his work, you're familiar with his devices, but it's the writing, the characters, and the narration that make this one memorable. As is often the case, Dickens gets pretty Hallmark-ish and treacly at the end, and in his handling of Ruth Pinch, but who cares? It's a great audiobook! Go for it.
This is my second Tana French novel; I listened to Broken Harbor recently, and recommend that as highly as this one. This is marvelous detective fiction: beautifully written and plotted, with complex and fascinating characters. Heather O'Neill does a brilliant job with the narration, handling a good-sized cast very well, and keeping me on the edge of my seat. I desperately hope she does more books; she has just the right amount of expression and emotion.
In Broken Harbor and Likeness, Tana Harbor creates intense and compelling mysteries without much violence. I can't read extremely or even moderately violent stuff; it unsettles me, but I love mysteries and have limited patience with "cozies." I'm also picky about good writing. Like P.D. James, Sarah Waters, and Kate Atkinson, French is able to maintain the tension without a lot of graphic violence. And the writing is *really good.* Denise Mina is another writer of marvelous detective fiction; I love her Alex Morrow series, though her Paddy Meehan & Garnethill series are too graphic for me. I notice Heather O'Neill has narrated two of the Paddy Meehans. Perhaps I can work up to one of those . . .
I get to read three more Tana French novels and then have to wait for her to publish more. I'm thrilled to have discovered her. What a find!
A ways into this book, I wasn't sure I was going to keep listening. The writing is straight-forward, terse, without much poetry to it, and I didn't know if I was up to 20+ hours of it. I'm very glad I persisted. It takes a while to get to know the characters, but once you do, they and their situation are compelling. The writing is effective and affecting, and the story is heartbreaking and all too true. If it doesn't grab you right off, keep going; it's well worth it.
Bronson Pinchot does a magnificent job of voicing the characters and bringing them alive. His command of accents is excellent. I hope he will do more "serious" literature; he seems to do a lot of fairly lightweight material. His narration of this book and of The Child Thief clearly show he is up to more.
I'm not a David Mitchell fan; I got through Thousand Autumns, but gave up on Cloud Atlas. I might give Cloud Atlas another try. I tried this book because of Ursula K. LeGuin's review in The Guardian; Ursula's opinion carries a lot of weight with me. I found The Bone Clocks to be seriously uneven. The first three sections & characters I found compelling, interesting and well narrated. The fourth section was difficult because it seemed to go on for a LONG time and the character was just so unpleasant. This might have been an easier read than listen; audiobooks come to life to such a degree that sometimes it's great and sometimes it's a downside. I didn't want to spend any more time with Crispin Hershey . . . but I got through it. I felt section 5 was by far the weakest part of the book. It's where the supernatural elements are strongest, and I just didn't believe it. I'm happy to go along with any number of fantastic constructs and worlds, but I need them to be well constructed and prepared for. These were not; it seemed like Mitchell just came up with a bunch of cool-sounding words and threw them at us. If the psychic weaponry and war make sense to him, that's fine, but it needs to make sense to me as well, and it really, really didn't. The narrator for section 5 didn't really work for me, and constantly mispronounced "Poughkeepsie." A small thing, I know, but it really got on my nerves after the first few times.
I enjoyed the final section of the book.
Overall I feel like Mitchell came up with some really interesting characters and didn't do much of interest with them. He can certainly write, no question about that. But the book didn't move me, and the supernatural aspect of the story was so weak that I'm left with no idea why he wrote the book at all.
This was Dickens' last finished novel, and he was at the height of his powers. The plot deals with the death of an heir to a fortune, and the effects of this fortune being settled upon a working-class couple. Along the way we have a couple of love stories, greed, jealousy, mistaken identity and murder. The threads of the plot are woven together beautifully and the characters are very much alive. I didn't want the book to end.
Simon Vance, as usual, does a superb job with the narration. His reading of the characters brings them to marvelous life. There is plenty of humor in the book, and Vance presents it with exactly the right touch of dryness. And his reading of the darker parts of the novel is extremely effective and affecting. I think this is one of his best narrations.
On to the next Dickens/Vance audiobook! Perhaps "Little Dorrit."
I read this book several years back, and am so glad I decided to listen to it as well. Today we have rich "athletes" who pay to be shepherded up and down Everest. In 1914 they had the real thing. This is a beautifully-written and narrated book that, despite knowing the outcome and having read it before, kept me on the edge of my seat. Most of the men on the expedition kept diaries which survived the journey, so there is a lot of detail and personal reporting; we get to know many of the men personally.
Simon Prebble's narration is impeccable: the men are distinctly voiced, and his delivery has just the right amount of drama.
I love the format, mixing the text with music. I would have been happy with twice or three times as much of each, and would have preferred more depth. I found the narration over the top; the emotion, the cultured accents, were overdone. At times it felt like a Monty Python sketch. But if you're looking for the basics of Dvorak's life and a taste of his music, it's a good choice.
I’m finding it hard to put into words how fine and beautiful this novel is. Anthony Doerr has created a stunning book, full of exquisite writing and beautifully-drawn characters. The plot is intricately woven, with several strands that are developed independently, then gradually wind around each other. The book moves forward and backwards in time, always focused on and progressing steadily toward the climax. It is one of the best novels I’ve read about World War II, and possibly the most moving.
The author writes so comprehensively, with such delicacy and finesse; he creates such vivid circumstances and settings that he doesn’t need to tell us how his characters feel. He lays the framework: we know the characters, we experience their lives with them, and therefore we know how they feel. It is deeply affecting.
This, like much of the fiction written about World War II, focuses on the suffering and misery of the Jewish people, France, Russia, etc., but here a major theme is also what the Nazis did to themselves and to the German people. They systematically made themselves and their people into monsters, and this is shown in heartbreaking detail. As difficult as that is, the author balances it with humanity, courage, and love. It's not a depressing book, not in the least, but it's not an easy feel-good read; there is a great deal of complexity here.
The narration is beautifully done by Zach Appelman, who seems to be quite new to audiobooks. His delivery has just the right amount of feeling. He doesn’t over-emote or over-dramatize the material. He mispronounces a few words, but other than that, the narration is flawless.
It’s a wonderful, engaging, utterly absorbing, highly moving listen. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time.
I got this book out of the library and was so involved in reading it that I bought the audiobook so I could listen as well. This is a fascinating account of the Dreyfus Affair at the turn of the (previous) century in France. We see everything from the viewpoint of Georges Picquart, an army officer who discovered evidence that Dreyfus was innocent and spent years trying to convince his superiors to do something about it. The book is a great spy thriller, doubly effective because it is true. The writing is excellent, the narration as well, and it's difficult to stop listening/reading. In addition to the spy-thriller aspect, the book provides an in-depth look at the political and social condition of France following its defeat by Germany in 1870, and at its Antisemitism. It's a very absorbing book.
I was not familiar with the narrator, David Rintoul. He sounds so much like Simon Vance that I was convinced this was one of Vance's aliases, but upon googling Rintoul, it appears that he is a separate person. He does a fabulous job with the book.
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