This book takes place in 1999, so about 15 years ago. It was copyrighted in 2011, so I wasn't expecting a "modern" chick lit novel to be so old.
I couldn't finish this one so I'm glad I got it on sale. The women in it sounded brainless. The author was trying too hard to be witty and just wasn't doing it for me. The dialogue moves fast and I don't think the narrator captured the different voices very well. The format of short e-mails going back and forth between the two women may work in written form, but it did not translate well to audio. "Beth to Jennifer...Jennifer to Beth...Beth to Jennifer..." ugh! I made it about an hour in and that was all I could stand. I don't recommend it.
In terms of chronological order, this story is the first. If you look on Amazon it is clearly described as a prequel although it is marked as #7 in the series, so I’m not sure why Audible hasn’t done the same. The story stands alone, so I think it would be fine to listen to it first or last. It was a cute, light story but average. I preferred some of the other stories in the series that had more going on in them.
This was an interesting story, but not really what I was expecting. I expected it to be the story of Philomena and her search for her son. I mean the book is called “Philomena…and her search.” Instead, it was pretty much a biography of her son. Since Michael Hess was homosexual and contracted AIDS in the early 1990s, I expected an amount of discussion about his homosexuality. And since Hess became a high level figure in the Republican Party and there is (and has been) a very conservative contingent of the Republican Party, I expected an amount of discussion involving politics. However, there was an inordinate amount of discussion about his sexuality and the Republican Party’s failings, mostly about his sexuality. I was just a kid in the 1980s so I don’t really remember the political and social climate of the 1970s and 1980s, but it felt like the author had a bit of a political agenda to me. Any right wing conservatives were basically categorized as “moral morons” (religious right) or hillbillies. However, overall I thought it was an interesting book and a worthwhile (although at times heartbreaking) listen. The beginning and end were captivating, but the middle of the book was slow.
A few observations…
~The story starts with Philomena’s circumstances behind her time at Roscrea and Anthony’s first few years until he was adopted at the age of three. That was the last of Philomena, except for Michael’s wondering what she was like over the years, until the final hour of the book. They crammed Philomena’s life post adoption into about ten minutes, and the investigative reporter’s search into less than 40 minutes. I have an interest in genealogy, so that was disappointing to me.
~Part one of the book was very moving and very aggravating to me that there could be that kind of corruption within the Catholic Church in “modern times.”
~I didn’t realize gerrymandering challenges were so important in bringing Republicans to office in the 1990s so I thought that was an interesting thread.
~The book is categorized as a memoir, but it is written by a retired investigative reporter who never met him and gathered information ten years after his death. I am a big fan of memoirs, but I do feel like a lot of the conversations were manufactured for dramatic effect since obviously the reporter wasn’t there.
~I am split on the whole concept of outing that was broached in the book. On one hand, I feel like it is bullying and therefore wrong and on the other, I feel like hypocrisy among our nation’s leaders should be exposed when it involves legislation they have tried to enact or prevent. Sixsmith wasn’t clear where Hess fell on that.
I had lingering questions at the end of the book. For example, Michael Hess knew Philomena’s name. Surely he had a fair amount of money from his position within the Republican party perhaps he could have hired a private investigator of some sort to try to track her down..? I was also curious about Mary (Michael’s adopted sister) and whether she was ever reunited with her birth mother. I have read that Michael’s last partner, Pete, felt that the book was misleading and that Michael wasn’t as “dark” as portrayed in the book. I didn’t think he was particularly dark, but rather lost and insecure. I am curious, therefore, what Pete felt was lacking in the telling. While Michael was dealing with AIDS, he received a note threatening to out him because of his work with the Republicans and I was curious if anything became of that or if his becoming ill headed it off. Was his being gay and did his having AIDS come out in the political arena or was it swept under the rug? When Pete & Mary discussed burial in Ireland, Pete mentioned restrictions on bodies of people who died from infectious diseases, but the book never discussed whether that became an issue. Sixsmith alluded to this being another story, but I am curious if Sixsmith has since found Michael’s father and if he ever knew he fathered a son.
The prior reviewer who said this book was like The Bachelor meets Highland romance was correct. I don’t like or watch The Bachelor for several reasons, and those elements were in this book. The main female character, Jane, was stupid, naïve, and shallow. A couple of the bachelors had less than desirable characters before they came to the castle, but somehow all instantly overcame their character flaws when competing (except Bryce, who took a little longer). I didn’t find the plot realistic and it seemed the timelines weren’t quite consistent either. I didn’t care for the narrator either – she overdid it at points, but mostly I think it was personal preference. I was bored & annoyed & so had to put this one down at a point and I came back to it after I listened to another book. I did manage to finish it, though, which is why I gave it two stars (instead of one).
I think the reason I didn't care for Elle was the narrator as much as the character. For someone who was supposed to be a "lady," she was actually really rude to Gabe in the beginning despite the circumstances. So I really didn't get what Gabe's random obsession with her from the beginning was at all. Any guy I know would have had some backbone and put her in her place. But a "lady" also wouldn't have behaved like such a harpee. I also quickly tired of the two female characters soundling practically like valley girls. I finished the book but I wouldn 't recommend it.
I really appreciate that Wright has been really creative in this series. Each of the three books to date has had similarities, but they had unique story lines. That said, I didn't really enjoy this one. Feral Sins was pretty light hearted and funny and Carnal Secrets was to some extent too. This one kind of got political, with extremist bigots, and I didn't enjoy it. On top of that, there was an alpha male who was kind of a sissy. I mean he was a tough guy in terms of threatening people and fighting but he was constantly talking about his feelings and it got repetitive and boring. This is also the second book with backstabbing, neurotic female characters who won't give up on trying to get their male despite their "true mate" being another female. Frankly, it makes it hard to believe the pull of the supposed true mate bond when there are constantly challenges to it. I had a hard time making sense of the whole true mate concept because of it. And why do the females always have to be catty?
If there is a book 4 to the series, then I will probably decide whether to continue based on that. I don't think I could take more petty jealous female characters or political plots.
Classic literature is one of my favorite genres, but I had a hard time sinking into this. I had never read The Great Gatsby before and I have not seen the movie. I'm not sure if it was the story or the narrator, but I think it was the latter. No offense to Jake Gyllenhaal but he has to be one of the most boring narrators I've listened to. The cadence of his voice made me want to sleep and half way through the book, I was still reluctant to see it to the end. I also had a hard time discerning whether some dialogue was intended to be tongue in cheek or serious, and I think that was the narrator as well. There are a lot of positive reviews, so I might try this again with a traditional book rather than an audio book.
This story had an interesting premise, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the first. Without giving away too much, I had a hard time believing everyone would just forgive the betrayal like they did. I also thought Bowen and Genevieve were way too sappy. And particularly in the first half of the book, there was too much time spent rehashing book one as well as on Genevieve's internal dialogue. In other words, it got repetitive. Overall, I still enjoyed the story but I'd say it was average.
I do hope they put book 3 on Audible.
Although this was on my wish list for some time, I was reluctant to purchase it because I was disappointed in Banks's first McCabe book. Since this was another Highland series, I expected it to be similar. When it went on sale, though, I took a chance and purchased it. I was pleasantly surprised that I actually really enjoyed this story. The story was refreshingly unique in the Highland romance genre. I also liked Kirsten Potter better as the narrator in this one for some reason. I definitely recommend it!
I'm actually glad I ignored some of the other reviews that said the series just kept going downhill. I agree that books 4 & 5 could have been better. But Daniel has been my favorite character in the series, and his book doesn't let down.
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