I read this marvelous book at least twice several years ago, and bought the audible version to get me up to speed for delivering a review. The narration was done years ago (though that's not the problem)--the reader massacres an otherwise superb book. His voice is high and he reads so quickly that for a while I thought perhaps the speed of the original tape had been sped up (I'm still not sure it wasn't). The result is slightly chipmunk-style narration, and in addition, the narrator places the wrong sort of emphasis on the wrong selection of irony, witticism, drama and otherwise marvelous insight. I had so looked forward to hearing one of my all-time favorite books, having mistakingly thought that destroying it wasn't possible. I'm disappointed that no one has noticed this most disappointing delivery and undertaken a more appropriate production. I'm certain that with a quality narrator, COLD SASSY TREE would reembark as an Audible best-seller.
I have certainly read many accounts of the holocaust years. Sometimes I have thought I should be finished reading them, because the story has been told now, and it may not be healthy for me to dwell upon it time after time. But The Officer's Wife" has taught me that the story must be to told again and again. Itis as rich as the multitude of people who experienced it. I learned a great deal from the telling of this participant. I learned the heroic efforts of both victims and members of the dominant population. I learned how greatly small and seemingly meaningless efforts of kindness affect the world ever after. I am grateful for the insights conveyed by reading of this narrator and those who brought us the story.
The best thing about this book is the character development. I felt a compelling attraction and affinity to every somewhat important character. While some were easier to admire, or dislike, or simply laugh at, I felt that I possessed the same traits during some periods of my life. Eliot is possibly the most honest writer I've ever read. She makes no one fit any pre-established mold; each develops as we readers travel along. I thought several times: "Our worlds and surroundings have changed so immensely; our habits of daily life bear no resemblance," and yet, all that is insignificant. People and events are entirely recognizable in my modern world, as well as in Eliot's.
I had to read this for a book group. It took me a while to begin appreciating it. Maybe halfway through. It struck me as an overly "neat and tidy" tale of a successful white woman saving a Black kid with just a little effort. I think perhaps the true story is much richer than this impression, in which case it just needed a better writer. When Maurice finally went out on his own to save and find his own purpose and possibility, the book became more inspiring. It wasn't that Schroff didn't contribute a great deal to his success, she most likely did, but we needed to SEE Maurice's character develop, and hear less about Schrop's difficulties. They can be included, but shouldn't take over.
All the reviews I read elsewhere barred me out: masses of readers LOVED this story and could find no fault in it. They raved about the wisdom and enthusiasm and wonders of a mother who "discovered" that her autistic child was, in fact, a genius and helped him attain great feats. Quite a few HATED this story: they thought it was a lie, or an exercise in boasting and appeal for fame. I disagreed with all.
My reading of the book fluctuated between astonishment, excitement, doubt, boredom, and a wish that the amazing mother would have found a capable ghost writer. I personally concluded that the story is largely accurate, and that the accomplishments and admiral insights of a dedicated mother and child motivator are mostly legitimate. In reaction to the writing itself, I felt that her plethora of unwarranted adverbs stretch otherwise interesting events into the frayed fragility of an overstretched elastic, and that her repeated description of tragic hardships is delivered with mind-numbing heaviness. Crowning this tone is the narrator's monotonous, martyr-like voice, and the author's inability to bring important characters--such as Jake--to life. in other words, we readers are allowed to "see" nothing occur, but only be told, and told, and told a long series of events. I wanted this book to end long before it did, though I waded on in honor of the truths available.
There is a great deal of intellectual insight to be discussed--by those with merit--concerning the overall message of the author's book and the danger and hope available in examining the wisdom in some of the author's decisions as applied to autistic persons worldwide.
There were many events that had potential brilliance in their telling. I wish I could have found more of them.
The beginning of this book was most promising; I could happily have accompanied Angus and Domenica throughut the novel. We begin with Angus bumbling about on the morning of his wedding, and his delightful character sings. I was fine with following the many other characters about while Angus and Domenica embark on honeymoon, but I waited eagerly for their return. The book had a finality to it. I would enjoy following other characters--especially poor Bertie who needs to age a bit--but if not, I also feel satisfied and the series feels complete.
I am surprised at needing to make one critical comment. For some very strange reason, the author--not even disguised as a character--tirades against the world of felines so loved by many readers. As a cat owner, I observe, in Smith's unwarranted ramblings off-topic, an immensely inaccurate judgement and a sad lack of knowledge and experience with these gentle animals. He calls them non-trustworthy, non-adoring, and non-companiable! He couldn't be more misguided. In all of his writings it has appeared to me that Smith is a promoter of liberality and patience in dealing with ignorance and suggests, instead, pursuing understanding of characters--and, er--pets. While I am content to believe his tribute to dogs as companions is worthy of my respect, I am sad to see that he has never been held accountable for doing the same towards cats.
This book was interesting entertaining, and insightful as always. I can't pinpoint why it wasn't one of the two or three all-time favorites in the Mme Rmatwse saga, perhaps only that two or three al-time favorites can't extend to all. it was a good read, well-worth the time put into listening and learning.
The title does't do this book justice. Destiny of the Republic was an assignment for me, and I didn't really expect much. Now that I've finished, I am so grateful to have learned about this part of my American history that I previously knew next to nothing about. The author does a masterful job of intertwining current events (of the time) with the story of President Garfield and his tragic end. So astonishing for me were the stubborn and prideful ignorance which stood in the way of Garfield's survival and what looked to be a most successful presidency. Destiny of the Republic is a book for me to read, and read again.
I received an education about Australia, whose history I've neglected until now. Conway's upbringing, education, and eventual departure from her homeland is most unique, while generously managing to convey for most readers connections into Conway's experiences and views. "Independent and brave" certainly sums this character's life. The writing is beautifully detailed and poetic, making the listening a delight.
I believe this is an important story to be told. I'm already familiar with the Nez Perce and Chief Joseph saga, so I expected to learn more. I might try it again reading on paper, but as an audio, it was just too detailed and old-fashioned History Class style and I couldn't focus for more than a minute or two when I tried again and again to move forward. I returned the purchase.
I'd heard that this book was important and even life-changing, and it proved true. I'm struggling right now with whether I should get the older ladies in my book club to read it too; but they're a bit squeamish and the book is--well, very true to the late 60s and Vietnam years. That was their time, but I think they missed it overall. Hmmmm, maybe that's the best reason to get us all to read it and see it again, from the true side.
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