I am quite partial to Simon Vance's narrations of Dickens, so I hesitated on buying anything other than his. I was convinced by the reviews and am very glad I chose this version. Both narrators are marvelous, especially Teresa Gallagher. It's a great story and a heartbreaking indictment of the British legal system in Dickens's time; this may make it sound dull, which it is not in the least.
I recommend listening to this and watching the PBS "Bleak House" production from 2005 (with Anna Maxwell Martin, and available on Netflix streaming). It allows you to absorb the story on several levels. I was sorry when the whole experience was over!
This book is often referred to as a fantasy novel, but in my opinion it bears very little resemblance to fantasy. I'd describe it as a philosophical novel with a few fantastic and mythical elements. The concept is good, the questions asked are valuable, but the execution, while often beautifully written, is so labored and dialogue-heavy that it only occasionally gets off the ground.
So much of the book is in dialogue, and there is so much repetition, that although events are happening to the characters, it feels as though nothing is happening. The fantastic elements have little weight and are almost beside the point. The book's truth could have been discovered as well if it had concerned an elderly couple living today, experiencing the memory loss that frequently comes with advanced age.
The author asks good questions: is the love between two people still valid if they can't remember their past? Is peace between peoples desirable or meaningful if it is based on their inability to remember their arguments and their wars? They are excellent questions, but this is a long, labored, roundabout way of exploring them.
The narration is excellent.
Thanks to Janice, who reviewed this book and addressed the issue of the violence. I might not have taken a chance on this without her review. I agree that the violence is not gratuitous and that what is there is necessary. This is a suspenseful thriller with a lot of history and a lot of depth. The protagonist is coming to terms with what he did during Ireland's Troubles, trying to put things right so that he can go on with his life. I don't want to say too much about how he goes about this, but it's a great story. Stuart Neville uses the kind of history and emotional depth found in Sebastian Barry's works, and puts them into a thriller worthy of William Boyd's Restless and Ordinary Thunderstorms. The writing is very good and the characters are very much alive, sometimes uncomfortably so.
Gerard Doyle's narration is excellent and he keeps the characters so clear and vivid that I forgot I was listening to one person.
I will definitely look for more by both Stuart Neville and Gerard Doyle.
I bought this on the basis of audible reviews and was not disappointed. This is not an edge-of-your-seat mystery. It unfolds slowly and moves deeper and deeper into the characters, their histories and their motivations. It is beautifully narrated by Harriet Walter. If you're looking for something to lose yourself in and spend some time with, I recommend it.
I bought this on sale (and it's on sale for one more day, if you're interested), and am glad I did. I needed something involving but not too demanding. This is a gothic mystery, which is not usually my kind of thing. But. It's quite well-written, has a great story, and terrific narration. Both narrators are excellent, but I was especially taken with Bianca Amato. What marvelous delivery! So of course I look to see what else she has done (nowhere near enough considering how good she is . . hello? Audiobook empire, please take notice!) and it's a lot of books I wouldn't normally pay attention to. Do I need to start reading Philippa Gregory? I don't know. Maybe. Anyway, I dithered over getting The Thirteenth Tale, as it seemed not really to my taste, but it's a darned good yarn, narrated beautifully.
What a debut! And though this book is very well-written and beautifully narrated, I did not find it an easy listen. The author goes out on a limb in order to put us inside the mind of an elderly woman with serious dementia, most likely Alzheimer's. And the limb bears the weight of this construct. It's very well done, to the extent of being genuinely frightening, along the lines of "that poor woman" and "please don't let this happen to me." The book unravels two mysteries: that of the title, and a much, much older one from the narrator's past. It's gripping and absorbing, and at times so intense that I had to take a break.
Not the least of the author's accomplishments is to increase our understanding of what it might be like inside the mind of those with dementia.
A beautifully-written and compelling book about fascinating people. The anthropologists are as interesting as the tribes they are studying. I could have gone on listening to this for quite a while longer and am sorry it's over. I completely disagree with the reviewers who panned Simon Vance. No, his reading of Bankson isn't euphoric, but neither is Bankson's character. So much of what is going on in the book is in the contrast between his approach and that of Nell and Fen, and Simon Vance and Xe Sands (whom I also loved) nailed this aspect. Great book, great narration all around. I loved it.
The book deals with an engrossing mystery surrounding the fate of Louis-Charles, the Dauphin of France, the son of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. The detective in this case, widely believed to be the first private detective, is Vidocq, and the book is well worth reading just for this character. The writing is skillful, moving, and often very funny. It's hard to go wrong with Simon Vance, and he's chalked up another A+ with his narration of The Black Tower. Highly recommended.
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!
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