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Chrissie

Brussels, Belgium | Member Since 2011

139
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 80 reviews
  • 210 ratings
  • 475 titles in library
  • 68 purchased in 2014
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10

  • The Garden of Evening Mists

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Tan Twan Eng
    • Narrated By Anna Bentinck
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Malaya, 1949. After a career spent helping to prosecute Japanese war criminals, Yun Ling Teoh, - herself the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp - seeks solace among the jungle fringed plantations of Northern Malaya. There she meets the enigmatic Aritomo, an exiled former gardener of the Emperor of Japan. Yun Ling asks Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister. But the jungle holds secrets of its own…

    Jennifer says: "brilliant listen"
    "Disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have listened to half of this book. I dislike it. It is contrived and unbelievable. The book tries to do too much, and thus does nothing well. The characters do not pull you in; they stay there flat between the pages of the book.

    IF you decide you DO want to read it, do not pick the audiobook narrated by Anna Bentinck!!!!! The book is set in three different time periods. This is more confusing in an audiobook than in a paper book. I do NOT like the narration. There are Chinese and Japanese characters. When all but one of them speaks, you will cringe. Ask yourself to mimic a Chinese person trying to speak English. THAT is what you have to listen to here. It may be typically correct, but it is ever so unpleasant.

    Oh, and I keep falling asleep as I listen to this book! Some lines are poetic and beautiful, but essentially lulling. I have started over several times, but each time I fall asleep!

    Then I got mad, and went back again. But it was so:
    1. boring (I HAVE listened to this.)
    2. and confusing (Which time period am I in now?)
    3. and annoying (Ugh, must I listen to this pigeon-English?)
    4. and contrived (Romance, hidden treasure, murder, internment camps, Communist terrorists....)
    5. and unbelievable (Central figure, the sole survivor of a Japanese Internment camp, agrees to become an apprentice gardener to a famed Japanese gardener, the gardener of Emperor Hirohito! And the details make it even more unbelievable. She manages to lift huge stones, agrees to remove her gloves that protect her hands that were damaged in the camp so she can feel the e-a-r-t-h..... Yup, not only unbelievable, but melodramatic too. I forgot to mention the serious medical problem.)

    So I am stubborn. I cannot just quit this book, can I? I went then to Wikipedia and looked it up. What is ahead of me? OMG, it is not going to get more believable. No, I cannot take this anymore! This book goes back to Audible! I LOVE that Audible lets you return books.

    The good things: some pretty lines and a teeny bit taught about Japanese gardens. They ARE truly magnificent. Should I give this book two stars? How can I do that if I absolutely cannot finish it?!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Hunger: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Knut Hamsun
    • Narrated By Kevin Foley
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (24)

    Knut Hamsun's Hunger, first published in 1890 and hailed as the literary beginning of the 20th century, is a masterpiece of psychologically driven fiction. The story of a struggling artist living on the edge of starvation, the novel portrays the unnamed first-person narrator's descent into paranoia, despair, and madness as hunger overtakes him. As the protagonist loses his grip on reality, Hamsun brilliantly portrays the disturbing and irrational recesses of the human mind through increasingly disjointed and urgent prose.

    Erez says: "Book quite good; wrong narrator"
    "Crazy? Hungry? Both?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The basic problem for me was that the central character, an author in Christiania (Oslo), Norway, just didn't convince me he was really hungry. I guess he was, because his hair was falling out in clumps. At the same time he had such pride and this stopped him from accepting any help offered him. If you are really starving do you refuse food? One thing is clear. He was ether hallucinating, due to a lack of food, or he was quite simply crazy. I couldn't figure out which.

    The author, the Norwegian Knut Hamsun, was one of the first to use stream of consciousness writing, but since the central character's thoughts are so delusional I wasn't interested in getting inside his head. His thoughts are confusing. I hardly even felt pity for this guy, who seemed more worried about what others would think of him than figuring out how to solve his problems. I am being harsh.... Virginia Woolf claims one needs a room of one's own to write. Well, first you need some food and a bed and a lamp to write by. A brain does not function without glucose! This book will appeal most to those who are interested in reading about the delusional. I simply wasn't convinced he was really starving.

    You don't get a feel for Christiania either.

    The narrator of the audiobook was Kevin Foley. I have no complaints with that. He does women’s voices remarkably well.

    The ending annoyed me -he finally does something constructive. At least he was on the verge of doing something. My response was: “Why didn't you do that earlier!” Hamsun did not make me feel for this poor, starving author! THAT is the biggest problem of the book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Down and Out in Paris and London

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By George Orwell
    • Narrated By Jeremy Northam
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    An autobiographical study, Down and Out in Paris and London follows Orwell as he tramps around both Paris and London. Pawning his belongings to buy food, unemployment, drinking heavily and jostling for a place in homeless hostels are but a few of the experiences related with candour and insight in this unabridged exclusive audiobook. Orwell was arguably one of the first 'gonzo' journalists.

    Paul says: "A Superb Writer"
    "Report, Memoir or Novel?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    OK, here is why I did not like this book:

    This is touted as a book of fiction with strong autobiographical elements. So if Orwell is presenting a book of fiction I want characters who engage me. I want a bit of a story. I want good descriptive writing. This novel fails on these points. It reads as a report. It is instead the direct retelling of Orwell’s experiences when he was down and out trying to survive in the slums first of Paris and then later in London. Probably the 1920s.. He had no money – at times, not even a few centimes. No job, no home, no clothes, no sleep – only hunger and cold and bugs. I am telling you his situation was m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e! He delivers a minute by minute account of his days as a dishwasher and as a homeless bum when he didn’t even have dishwashing. I do sympathize with him and his comrades’ plight, but if Orwell wanted to present this as a novel then the characters should draw me in. This is not the nature of the book; it is a report of what he saw and experienced.

    So, if this is a report then I must judge how that report is delivered. I disliked elements of this report:
    -the author’s anti-Semitic views
    -the concluding analysis of how the homeless’ situation should be improved
    -and in a report one need not include numerous verbatim emotional outbursts filled with expletives.

    I do believe Orwell’s experiences could have been turned into a novel about the life of people working in restaurants, cooks and waiters and yes the dishwashers too. The homeless and the foreign exiles. It could have made a marvelous novel, but what is delivered here is half novel and half memoir, neither one nor the other.

    Jeremy Northam narrated the audiobook I listened to. Set in the slums of both London and Paris there are numerous foreign exiles and thus numerous dialects. The only dialects that felt genuine were the British ones. The Russian dialect was ridiculously fake. The French was off too, and half of the book is set in Paris!

    Really, I did want to give this at least two stars because the plight of the lowest of low in the slums of Paris and London is clearly depicted, but my honest feeling toward this book is one of dislike. So one star it is.

    Read Homage to Catalonia or Animal Farm instead. They are better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Red and the Black

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Stendhal
    • Narrated By Bill Homewood
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (27)

    Young Julien Sorel, the son of a country timber merchant, carries a portrait of his hero Napoleon Bonaparte and dreams of military glory. A brilliant career in the Church leads him into Parisian high society, where, 'mounted upon the finest horse in Alsace', he gains high military office and wins the heart of the aristocratic Mlle Mathilde de la Mole. Julien's cunning and ambition lead him into all sorts of scrapes.

    Chrissie says: "Slow and wordy"
    "Slow and wordy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    No, I did not like this book. I disliked the intertwining of its two central themes, one being a criticism of French Bourbon society after the fall of Napoleon and the crazy, unbelievable love affairs. The writing becomes more and more absurd the further you progress into the novel. The language is old-fashioned, formal, complicated and wordy. I was bugged to no end by the excessive use of etcetera and etcetera over and over again. Perhaps that was a translation problem? I am not sure.

    The book is extremely slow, even if it does pick speed as it nears the end only to fall again to turtle velocity at the conclusion.

    This is a book of satire and by the end the author's "message" has been pounded into you. Events become absurdly ridiculous. I preferred the more subtle humor at the beginning. The question is - did I ever really laugh? No.

    I must repeat my earlier statement found below: if this is a book that is supposed to offer a psychological study of characters, why are my feelings toward Julien, the main character, only lukewarm?

    The famed actor Bill Homewood narrated the audiobook I listened to. The French pronunciation was fine but I disliked his added dramatics, even if perhaps he was merely exaggerating what the author intended to be exaggerated.

    So I did not enjoy the humor, or the wordy writing, or the incredible romances. I will neither be listening to Homewood again nor reading more books by Stendhal.

    ****************************************

    Two-thirds through the audiobook:

    This is v-e-r-y slow.

    Be prepared for a multitude of pontificating old men.

    The language is old-fashioned and formal; it was written in 1830 and is concerned with the upper-classes of French society after the defeat of Napoleon.

    What is important above all else is your class. Will Julien Sorel be able to escape his class? He is intelligent. He is ambitious.

    And then there are scandalous love affairs....involving not only Julien but an older woman who really ought to know better because she at least has the experience of age! More importantly, the author's lines do not make me feel either Julien's or her passion.

    I do not empathize with any character. I do not dislike Julien, but I dislike what he is aspiring to. In addition, if this is a book that is supposed to offer a psychological study of characters why are my feelings toward Julien only lukewarm?

    I am not done, and I will continue, but.....

    Keep in mind when you look at the rating that MANY people close the book before completion and thus do not rate it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Empire Falls

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Richard Russo
    • Narrated By Ron McLarty
    Overall
    (135)
    Performance
    (118)
    Story
    (120)

    Dexter County, Maine, and specifically the town of Empire Falls, has seen better days, and for decades, in fact, only a succession from bad to worse. One by one, its logging and textile enterprises have gone belly-up, and the once vast holdings of the Whiting clan (presided over by the last scion’s widow) now mostly amount to decrepit real estate. The working classes, meanwhile, continue to eke out whatever meager promise isn’t already boarded up. Miles Roby gazes over this ruined kingdom from the Empire Grill, an opportunity of his youth that has become the albatross of his life.

    margaret says: "Hugely Enjoyable"
    "Sit-com dialogs and snide humor"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After a bit more than four chapters:

    I continue to have a hard time with this. I find it extremely depressing. There is humor, but it is not the kind I like. It is sarcastic, mean humor where you are supposed to laugh at the stupidity or crude behavior of people. I protest; I like to laugh with people in happiness, not at people for our weaknesses. There is a priest that is demented and he wants to hear confessionals so he can hear what is going on and then he tells others. Now I don't think that is nice. Sure it might happen in the real world but how often? There is Miles' alcoholic father who continually throws out cruel, snide criticisms of his son and others. Miles' mother has died of cancer and her death was painful and horrible for all. I find this depressing. I am not avoiding the reality of life, but what is the purpose of sinking myself into the worst of man's behavior.

    Mid-life crises kind of bore me.

    None of this is a spoiler since I have not gone far into the book.

    Neither have I even mentioned the prologue which was utterly disgusting. I don't find it appetizing to read about a decomposing moose, even if it leads C.B. to make a foolish decision - BTW, here I am just guessing. Let me point out that I never shy away from gruesome events in history, but what is the point here in reading about how people behave so cruelly to one another? What does that teach me?

    There is absolutely nothing exceptional about the writing; the author's ability to depict an emotion, a place or an event is just plain ordinary.

    This received a Pulitzer. Would somebody who loves this book explain to me why I should continue reading. I just do not understand. SHOULD I continue? I need advice.

    *****************************

    After 14 chapters (about half of the book):

    So I continued; several said that Tick is a fabulous character. She plays a larger and larger role starting in Part Two. She cannot save this book for me. I find the humor not to my taste. I find the characters black or white - cardboard characters. It is simple to make two piles, the good ones and the bad ones. I cannot accept such characterization. People are complicated; they cannot be sorted in this manner. And the dialogs sound like those perfect for a popular weekly television series. Perfect sitcom dialogs.

    In desperation I went and read spoiler reviews...... No, what is coming is not up my alley either. Enough is enough. I will be reading no more books by Richard Russo. This is my third and last try.


    I listened to the audiobook narrated by Ron Mclarty. That was the only thing that was exceptional. Great narration. His intonation perfectly matched the lines. So if you want to read this book don't hesitate to choose the audio format and this narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • David Copperfield

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Peter Batchelor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (57)
    Story
    (53)

    Dickens called David Copperfield his "favourite child," and many critics consider the novel to be one of his best depictions of childhood. Set in early Victorian England against a backdrop of great social change, Dickens acutely observed the phenomena of the Industrial Revolution and used them as the canvas on which he painted the novel. Many consider David Copperfield to be the author’s finest work.

    Richard says: "Delightful Dickens listening"
    "Cute"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Peter Batchelor narrates my audiobook! There are at least ten or twelve characters that return over and over again. He narrates each of them with a different voice so you can hear who is speaking. However in places the recording isn't the best; here the words were difficult to decipher.

    Dickens is disappointing AGAIN. I have recently tried Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol. I will give this a fair try, all through to the end, but I believe it will be my last Dickens.

    Everyone gushes over Dickens so maybe an alternate view is good to hear occasionally too. I find it wordy, alternately cute or sentimental or downright drippy. The characters are simply not complex enough for my taste.

    I can conclude that I liked this one better than the others I have read by Dickens. Why? Because by the end I had come to care for the characters. I knew who they were; I could guess how they would behave given a particular situation. Some I disliked immensely, with others I chuckled over their peculiarities and others I alternately ached with them and smiled with them. The variety of characters presented was wide; this was entertaining. I cannot deny that Dickens wove a story of a group of individuals that became a close knit group, and the reader comes to know all of them well. All are important for the story, and all are different.

    You do see how life was for those of the lover classes in Victorian England. A struggle.

    But the story is extremely predictable. When Agnes enters the story at the beginning of the book I knew immediately where she was going to end up at the end. And Uriah Heap! You know when he enters the scene what role he will play, not the specific details of course, but almost. He is so very slimy.

    There is another serious problem with this book. David Copperfield is looking back and telling us of his life. So guess what, much of the action is told rather than shown. Isn't that a widely acknowledged no-no?!

    If I had to pick one word to describe the book? It would be CUTE I think it reads like a fairy tale. You are alternately supposed to feel a wide gamut of emotions - anger, happiness, fear, satisfaction. And how must it end? Don't expect a story that will get you thinking.

    By the book's end I was happy. So very cute. How can you not smile? Through much of it however I was alternately bored, wished there had been a better editor and was successfully predicting what would happen next. So I am afraid I can only give this two stars. It was OK. Sure, read it if you are in the mood for a cute story, a long cute story. I didn't waste my time. I know now clearly why I feel as I do about Dickens' writing.

    This is partially autobiographical, but how accurate is the relationship with his wife?!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Monica Wood
    • Narrated By Monica Wood
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (9)

    1963, Mexico, Maine. The Wood family is much like its close, Catholic, immigrant neighbors, all dependent on a father's wages from the Oxford Paper Company. Until the sudden death of Dad, when Mum and the four closely connected Wood girls are set adrift. Funny and to-the-bone moving, When We Were the Kennedys is the story of how this family saves itself, at first by depending on Father Bob, Mum's youngest brother, a charismatic Catholic priest who feels his new responsibilities deeply.

    Chrissie says: ""Memory Lane", at least for some of us"
    ""Memory Lane", at least for some of us"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I definitely liked this book and it is definitely worth reading.

    Its topic is the death of a loved one, seen particularly through the eyes of a young child. Monica, the author, speaks of her father's death when she was nine years old in 1963, the same year Kennedy was assassinated. How did that death impact her own life, her siblings', her mother's and her uncle’s? You follow first the days, then the seven months and finally the two years without Dad – the "Dad-less days". This is touching, but never maudlin. The author also makes you laugh.

    I liked very much following this good, religious family of Catholics. Few books talk about GOOD, upright families with high morals. Definitely refreshing. That is not to say they were faultless. Some of the adults certainly pulled whoppers, but these were good if ordinary people.

    This book will also take you back to "Memory Lane" - the 1960s, the death of Kennedy and life in a small, American town, in this case Mexico. Yes, this IS a small town in Maine near the border to Canada. I didn't realize how many in the area spoke and breathed French. This is the town of Oxford Paper, that shiny, smooth, glossy paper we all recognize from National Geographics. Do you remember the song Big Girls Don't Cry, the TV show Mr. Ed, the Talking Horse, the school game Red Rover, pedal-pushers and tootsie rolls and....it will all come back when you read this book. To at least some of us.

    The author narrates her own book. She does it well. She delightfully sings the lyrics of those songs, the oldies we remember so well.

    This book is true to life and serious and fun too. Pick it up. Read it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Death of Ivan Ilyich: A Leo Tolstoy Short Story

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Leo Tolstoy
    • Narrated By Bill DeWees
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (89)
    Performance
    (80)
    Story
    (79)

    The brilliance of this story is in how a normal bureaucrat, a judge in this case, has a small accident that winds up gradually taking his life. As he deals with this incident, with hope at first and then despair, he comes to terms with his family, his life, and the mediocrities that we all suffer with, except for the exceptional few. This story rings a particularly poignant note for those in early middle age facing the next part of their lives. This story is considered Tolstoy's best.

    Michael says: "Great Book, Great Price, Good Narration"
    "Uninteresting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    So this was a Tolstoy...... Hmph, the story doesn't say much except to reiterate how difficult and painful death can be, both physically and emotionally. The story is way too short to establish empathy for Ivan Ilyich! He was a judge. A game of bridge was his favorite amusement. All his life he conformed to proper decorum, becoming with age aloof and irascible. What was the point of life - both he and the readers may ask?!

    The narration by Walter Zimmerman was certainly not bad, but it didn't add anything.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Member of the Wedding

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Carson McCullers
    • Narrated By Susan Sarandon
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    The best way to experience this classic of the American South is by joining five-time Academy Award nominee and Best Actress winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, Thelma & Louise) as she guides the listener on a journey through the anguish of adolescence and isolation.

    Chrissie says: "A Gem"
    "A Gem"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Yes, a gem! Why I found it amazing and thus worth five stars is explained below in the partial review.

    I will only add here a bit about the book's setting: Georgia, 1944-45. You see the world through the eyes of 12 year old Frankie, or F. Jasmine Addams. SHE, not I, will explain to you why she appropriated this name. Not only do you see the emotional turmoil of a preteen but you also get the racial tensions in the South and the tension created by the War. We know it is 1944 from the simple line that "Patton is driving the Germans out of France". One line and so much is said. No long discourses on history.

    Do you remember when you were caught between being a child and an adult and belonging nowhere? Alone....and the world is a scary place.

    The narration is fantastic; it is read slowly, with feeling, and it is easy to follow. Wonderful Southern dialect.


    ***********************************


    After part two of three OR after three fourths of a 6 hour audiobook:

    Lend me your ear for a moment please. I consider myself pretty hard to please. For this reason I tend to prefer non-fiction because then I tell myself I will at least learn something if the writing disappoints, if the story fails. But the most stupendous books are those of fiction where the writers create a marvelous gem all from NOTHING. They create a tale from assorted words and how they string them together, their imagination and their ability to capture human emotions that we all share. So when I run into astoundingly beautiful writing, and by that I do not mean "pretty" but rather writing that speaks to us all, that has the ability to to pull us out of our own existence and allows us to share common experiences and emotions, now that is something else. THAT is what Carson McCullers does in this book. Fantastic writing.

    Do you remember your preteens, when you didn't feel comfortable in your own skin, when the whole world changed over night and all was frightening? Physical changes and emotional changes that throw you off balance. Do you really remember that period in your life? Here it is again captured in writing.

    Don't read this. Listen to it narrated by Susan Sarandon. Stunning performance.

    Don't miss this audiobook.

    Yep, I have listened to " The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". This is even better!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Anthony Doerr
    • Narrated By Zach Appelman
    Overall
    (1285)
    Performance
    (1160)
    Story
    (1158)

    Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is 12, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

    Annie M. says: "Time well spent"
    "A mix of fantasy and historical fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    All readers must agree that the flipping back and forth between different time periods makes this book more confusing. I believe it must be said loudly and clearly that the current fascination with multiple threads and time shifts is only acceptable when they add something to the story, when employment of such improves the story. In this book they do not improve the story. Perhaps jumping from one scene to another can increase suspense, but must one also flip back and forth in time? In addition, more and more books are made for audios, and this is not helpful when you cannot flip back to see where you are. Finally, time switches unnecessarily lengthen the novel.

    Secondly, be aware when you choose this book that the book is not only about WW2 but also a diamond that some of the characters, quite a few in fact, believe has magical powers. Those who possess the stone will not die, but people around that person will come to misfortune. This is all stated in one of the very first chapters; it is not a spoiler. This aspect of the book turns the story into a mystery novel. Where is the gem? Who has it? The result is that you have a heavy dose of fantasy woven into a book of historical fiction. I have trouble with both fantasy and mystery novels. Maybe you love them. (I would have preferred that the diamond was woven into the story as one of the objects stolen by the Nazis.)

    Let's look at how the book portrays WW2. It is set primarily in Brittany, France, and Germany and a little bit in Russia and Vienna. Its primary focus is about what warfare does to people, not the leaders, but normal people. I liked that you saw into the heads and felt the emotions of both Germans and French. Some of the Germans are evil but you also come to understand how living in those times shaped you. To stand up against the Nazi regime was almost impossible. There are some who try. These events are gripping. You also get the feel of life in Brittany versus Paris. They are not the same. I enjoyed the feel of the air, the wind in my face and the salty tang on my lips in St. Malo. I do wonder to what extent my appreciation of Brittany as a place is more due to my own time there or the author's writing. Am I remembering my own experiences, or am I seeing it from the words of the author? I am unsure about this.

    In any case, I was very disturbed by the blend of fantasy with gripping WW2 events.

    The events of WW2 are those portrayed in every book. If you have read about WW2 in numerous other books of fiction or non-fiction you will not get much new. Rape by Russians felt like the author had to include this simply so it could be to be togged off his checklist. I do think the book moves the reader on an emotional level. You get terribly angry and shocked, and this is achieved through the author's writing, his excellent prose.

    And this is what saves the book – its prose. The descriptions of things and places, the particular grip of a hand, movement of a body and what characters say. Very good writing. Beautiful writing. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you feel that wind on your skin or the touch of a shell against your fingertips or smile at the oh so recognizable words of a child. Children often see far more than adults, but they also talk in a clear, simple manner. What they say is to the point - could that diamond be thrown away? Of course not. As remarked by one of the French children, "Who is going to chuck into the Seine a stone worth several Eiffel Towers?" Even if the gem has dangerous powers!

    People love reading about kids and one of them here is blind. Who wouldn't be moved by such!

    The narration by Zach Appelman didn't add much, but neither did it terribly detract from the story. I appreciated how he read some lines with a beat, a rhythm which matched the cadence of the author's words. Pauses were well placed. French pronunciation was lacking.

    Oh my, once I got going I told you what I felt. I believe this book will be popular, and many will like it, but not me.

    29 of 41 people found this review helpful
  • Jude The Obscure

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Thomas Hardy
    • Narrated By Stephen Thorne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (36)

    This is the story of a young country workman obsessed by his ambition to become an Oxford student, interwoven with his fraught relationships with two women.

    Tad Davis says: "Staggering"
    "Jude cannot pick women!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Just as the book description clarifies, through this book Hardy criticizes the three institutions - marriage, religion and education - during Victorian times. Although I agree with his criticism, he exaggerates; he finds example that go beyond a fair analysis. Some of the characters are good and some evil, as in all novels, but Hardy goes beyond this and throws in characters that are mentally instable. Their behavior cannot be seen as a just criticism of the inflexible morals, rules and beliefs. A better criticism would have been achieved through more stable characters.

    I have nothing against depressing books, but this is excessively depressing and frustrating beyond words since the characters cannot make up their mind. Talk about vacillation! It was tiring to see how they make a decision and then changed their minds, not once, but over and over again. Yes, such rigid institutions can force people into craziness, but not to the extent portrayed here. These people would not even be happy in less restrictive times, and thus Hardy's message loses impact.

    I listened to the audiobook narrated by Stephen Thorne. I was not pleased with the women's voices, and you could not tell who was speaking. The tone was disagreeable, but so were the characters.

    I liked Jude, but felt such pity for him. It is hard to see a man so crushed by life, and his choice of women could not have been worse.

    I might try another book by Hardy.

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