I picked this up on a whim, and now it's one of my favorite audio books. The reader is wonderful, the language is lyric and beautifully paced and the story is solid.
Back away if you're looking for Anne Rice or Laurel K. This probably won't work for you. It's mostly a coming of age novel -- far more like City of Light or To Kill a Mockingbird than Angel's Summer Vacation in the Buffyverse. However, for fans of the genre in general, looking for something new, it's excellent. There's a mimimum of mysticism, a decent level of rationality and hard logic as well as the emotional hooks that surround any adolescent story of growth. I found it fascinating for the language, the raw emotionalism and the slowly unfolding mystery; if you need action from page two and aren't at least as interested in the why people do things as the how they do them, then you may not enjoy this book. It's definitely a story of a family, fractured, and two parents doing the best they can to raise their very special child.
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser covered all of the ground that Spurlock covers and more, and without the silly sensationalism of making himself sick in the process. I don't mind that the information that Fast Food is bad for you (duh) is getting out there, but this comes close to plagiarism. It's definitely strongly recycled.
It's not an exhaustive history, but as an introduction to Mrs. Roosevelt, this is a very good one. It's also a good, high-level introduction to the Depression and WWII for people who are not familiar with it.
The book itself is well paced, beautifully plotted and well characterized. Ms. Harris did not miss a trick; she caught all of the spirit of the age, down to the tensions between Huguenots and Catholics leading to a more fundamentalist backlash on theology and behavior within the Catholic world. (And the potatoes are correct; once introduced to France in the 16th C., they quickly became a delicacy and a very important cash crop, much like convents who now support themselves on jam or printer cartridges.) The reading is enjoyable and never dull or monotonal.
The only reason that I did not give this audio book full marks is that the music at the chapter breaks is annoying and was recorded at a volume considerably louder than that of the reading. Thus, it's rather jarring to listen to.
This is the only abridgment that I own from Audible, and it was a mistake. I'd planned to purchase the full version. I'm not unhappy that I bought the abridgment; this is very well done. However, if you have the option, the unabridged version is far superior. There's a sense of things missing in an abridged version, even if the story is complete.
Don't bother listening to this one. S&S is a delightful, wonderful tale that reads beautifully (my 4 year old goddaughter and I read it with no problems last summer) but this reader sucks the life out of the story! On first listen, I thought that it was being read by my Macintosh. Any reader that I can compare to the Victoria voice is not a good reader. Even Elinor could not excuse this reader's lack of passion.
The story, of course, is quite wonderful. There are other readers, and I DO hope that Audible investigates them, and spends more time acquiring audiobooks from Blackstone. I have yet to be disappointed by a Blackstone production.
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