This is considered one of the finest novels of the early twentieth century. The story and characters are suffocating - slowly killing each other and themselves - and we readers - through their idleness and pointlessness. However, and this is an enormous HOWEVER for anyone who is interested in HOW novels are written, I have never seen such an exquisite example of moving backwards and forwards in time to construct the story and characters. I may read this again and again just to see how Ford did it. It is simply brilliant.
Scott is not one of my favorite writers although I love 19th century literature. However I had promised myself to read this book some day and I did enjoy it. The performance was very good and the story is fun. But it is a 19th century person's view of an action story - melodramatic by our standards, with stock characters.
I did not know this book would take me through the Nigerian civil war when I bought it. But I am so glad I learned about it through this stunning story of an upper class African family that eventually found themselves on the losing side. The story is well written, beautifully narrated, and delivers the war gently. No clobbering with gruesome gratuitous violence and no battle scenes. This is simply the experience of a few individuals who lived through it. I loved the characters and especially the twin sisters whose difficult relationship is finally healed because of the war.
The performer did a poor job with female voices and accents. The story is fun but not especially scary and certainly not original. The author tried very hard to draw a parallel to Shirley Jackson's iconic Haunting of Hill House and it back fired on him - by trying to do something that good, and failing, his story suffered by the comparison. I did enjoy the unlikeable characters who competed with each other. Had the performance been better I would have upped the rating simply for the light entertainment factor which is sometimes all I want.
If, like me, you've been missing the real Stephen King, he's finally reincarnated in his son, Joe Hill. I don't know about you, but I loved Stephen King when he wrote supernatural thrillers many years ago. Sadly, in recent years he's been getting duller and duller. Although his writing is still masterful, his content is ho hum. It is astonishing that his son has developed into an equal craftsman - great characters, great dialogue, great plot. But Joe has great ideas for scary stories and we haven't had a good chiller from his dad in decades.
This story is fabulous and creepy and fast paced and wicked fun! Kate Mulgrew renders a stellar performance and you simply cannot shut it off. I listen as I commute and I find myself lingering in the car because I simply have to know what happens next. Hill can create a bagful of terrifying monstrous bad guys and keeps piling on the danger until you can't stand it anymore.
I must also recommend Hill's "Heart-Shaped Box" which is the ONLY horror novel that has actually scared me in three decades. Not kidding. Nothing scares me anymore. But Hill did it when no one else, including King, could.
I cannot wait for more Joe Hill. And I would listen again to anything Kate Mulgrew narrates.
I love 19th century literature and purchased this because the description called a the "greatest narrative novel of the early 1800s.." But holy cow! This was incredibly boring. It just describes a rag to riches life of an angelically perfect man. There is no depth to the characters, no plot tension in the story, no real drama. I had to go read what the critics say about this novel and have learned that it is important because it describes the social and economic shift from agrarian landed gentry as the economic power base, to the middle class manufacturer. So I get why the readers of the time found this an important reflection f their society. But it is simply bad literature by our modern standards. Also, to make it worse - much worse - the reader is awful He has a gruff old man voice and cannot capture the necessary youthful voices. Everyone sounds 60 years old. Bad. Just bad.
I can't think of one good reason to put this subpar work into audiobook form. I love Willkie Collins but this was really boring. Not even close to the masterfully suspenseful style we learned to love through Woman in White and The Moonstones. I think Collins was paying homage to Ann Radcliffe - the creator of gothic suspense - because it emulated many of the elements in her works - renaissance Italy setting, an evil priest, a mysterious presence, thwarted lovers, etc. etc. But this does not work. Moreover the performance was terrible. The narrator used American accents for French and Italian people, and could not create differentiation between young females. Made the heroine sound about six years old. Very bad.
Although I really miss the bookjumps into fiction, and meeting all the crazy characters from well-loved classical literature, Fforde still manages to entertain me with Thursday's adventures. If you're a fan, you'll enjoy this. NOT recommended if you haven't read the previous books. You simply won't understand what's going on. The good news is that this book sets us up for Fforde's next Next adventure - a jump into the dark reading material at the center of the universe. Can't wait!
Dylan Baker is so good that he actually sounds like Henry Fonda. This performance is outstanding.
The hilarious and idiotic professor of philology, Professor Dr. Mortiz-Maria von Igelfeld, is McCall Smith's best character and the least known. I find much of Smith's writing very dull. But this series about his ridiculously pompous and clueless professor is laugh-out-loud fun! I highly recommend the first couple books in the series. Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, and The Villa of Reduced Circumstances. Sausage Dogs is one of the funniest things I have EVER read. Sadly, this book does not live up to the others and I waited sooooo long for it! Perfectly narrated by Paul Hecht but the story just wasn't as good as in the other books.
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