Frank McCourt is a fabulous writer and a superb narrator of his own story. Unfortunately, his story is so depressing that I simply can't give it a five star rating. Growing up in Ireland where the Catholic Church seems to influence every aspect of life creates an atmosphere of oppression and lost hope. Having a father who is a drunk and and a mother who keeps having children with no real way to care for them adds to the depression of the story. Yet other reviewers talk of Mr. McCourt's forgiveness, which I do not understand nor see. Great writing. Great narration. Horrible story. Thanks anyway, but I think it's time for another romance novel...
I hated this book to end. From the very beginning, the story held my interest. A woman's story told in a woman's voice. Nothing fake here. The main character is a woman, written by a woman who understands that the unfortunate decisions we make when young, will have ramifications for the rest of our lives. And yet there is spunk and courage, and grit and perseverance and luck that also matter in how a life turns out. The story line follows a woman of Spanish origin through the turbulent time of Spanish unrest prior to World War II. Do yourself a favor and allow this story to build your own resiliency and hope, knowing that perseverance will help you make a life worth living.
Great! How exciting to write a negative review of a book others seem to love. And how annoying! The main character is someone I would never want to know. She is a woman who has been the lover of a man for thirteen years but thinks no one knew of their relationship. Catherine is egotistical and manic. For a "mature" woman to behave with the poor judgment she displays toward one who is kind, over and over again, is rephrehensible. Catherine acts like a baby. She drinks, snorts cocaine and feels sorry for herself. Frankly, as a woman, it was easy to tell that the author was a man. Catherine is a caricature of how a man might see a woman in such a position. And, if that is not bad enough, another woman is added to the plot and she is equally crazy and unlikeable. Follow that with a bizarre secondary story about a mechanical contraption and surely you will understand the title. No? Well, that's what is supposed to be so innocuous, right? Hardly. Avoid at all costs or prepare to be irritated.
When I first began listening to this book, I found the slight lisp of the reader disturbing and somewhat annoying. Then I realized it was all part of the way the reader, Peter Altschuler, was creating the character of Major Pettigrew! Like the reader's vocal idiosyncrasy, I found I liked "The Major" more over time. In fact, by the end of the book I found the major delightful and wished I could have been loved by him! Sign me up! I'm a fan.
So juvenile, poor writing, trite, not even funny, certainly not thought provoking. After listening to two hours I simply gave up. If someone is going to write a revised version of the story of Jesus, it had better be really good. This book wasn't. Whoever wrote the synopsis did a great job of hawking the book. Unfortunately, that synopsis offered hope where there really wasn't any.
If you do not find intrigue breathtaking, don't read this well written and well researched book. Hilary Mantel is my new favorite author, and what a remarkable writer and teller -of-tales she is! Her writing is dense, insightful, and rich in nuance. She takes the story of Anne Boleyn and makes it come to life (and death), as witnessed through the actions of Thomas Cromwell, one of King Henry VIII's chief counselors. It appears no accusations can be too bold, and no recriminations too slanderous if you are king and want to be rid of a wife you just spent ten years courting into marriage. The dicotomy of a king's whim and a queen's rights could not be more opposite, and if you can rid yourself of a few extra people along the way, why not...
Very few books totally capture both my imagination and interest, "Wolf Hall" is one of those rare book that does. The story tells of times in Britain's history where a king's marriage, and its legality, based on questions of virginity and "incest" (by marrying your brother's wife), are debated in courts, in pulpits, and in other countries. Intriguing and filled with intrigue, Hilary Mantel's story of the trials of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, as told through the character of Thomas Cromwell weaves an intricate story that is impossible to ignore. Surely the only complaint I can make is that I had to actually pay attention to the story as I listened to it play out! No sentence was superfluous. No introduction of characters without merit. No storyline irrelevant.
Outstanding in every way, I award this book my highest praise. As a persnickety reader and listener, I usually read and listen to books that meet some of my criteria for being worthwhile. This book met all my criteria. Interesting, fast paced, strong women protagonists, great vocabulary, believable story, heart wrenching in some category, a yearning for more, sense of loss when the story ended. Brava to Hilary Mantel, bravo to narrator Simon Slater, bravo to all of us smart enough to read this book!
Who likes romance? Certainly not me! Still, having read "The Winter Sea" by Susanna Kearsley, and really liking it, I decided to try "The Rose Garden". I was not disappointed. Mixing historical references with modern age normalcy, Kearsley stirs the heart of the reader/listener and brings the 'fairytale' of love's longing to life. Good men act with honor, bad men are bad, and the female lead learns to follow her heart. Good stuff. Unfortunately, I did not think the reader, Nicola Barber, did justice to the character of Daniel. The inflection she used when reading his parts did not have the tenderness I believe he deserved and that is why I would rate the performance with only 3/5 stars. However, the book delivers what is promised and serves to fill a need all of us might feel from time to time. Although I downloaded another of Kearsley's books, "Marianna" to my kindle, if the formula turns out to be the same one used for these two romance novels, I believe I'll pass on her others. A good romance works for awhile, and then it's off to search out other genres.
I'm not a huge fan of romance novels but I like historical fiction and this book gave me both in good measure. The reader was superb in speaking with an authentic Scottish accent that is so much a part of the Scottish experience. And the female lead was intelligent, thoughtful, resourceful, and discerning - all good qualities that enhance a love story. Thank goodness the male characters were presented in mostly the same fashion, not an idiot among them! I don't think anyone who enjoys a good love story would be disappointed in purchasing this book.
Why ever listen to dribble? I don't, and my recommendation of "Mudbound" is designed for others who feel the same way. Excellent story development, people who sound and act like "real" people would, a setting in place and time that is (hopefully) never to be repeated. The various readers did an excellent job of reading their parts with the conviction, or lack thereof, which was true for their particular character. Women played an active, if not central, role in the story and were portrayed in a manner consistent with women of that time period. Neither maudlin nor pollyanna-ish in it approach, Mudbound tells a clear and concise story of life in rural Mississippi following World War II in a way that elicits interest, revulsion, and compassion. Splendid. Heartfelt. True.
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