This is the second nonfiction I've read by Nathaniel Philbrick. The first was "In The Heart of The Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex." Both have been page turners for me.
Before I read "Mayflower," I only *thought* I knew the story. Philbrick cleared up some false impressions, shed light on incorrect but long-held beliefs, and filled in a lot of blanks. I found it all quite captivating.
If you're not inclined to read "Mayflower," for whatever reason, I strongly encourage you to try "In The Heart of the Sea." Don't think for a second that it might bore you. You'll miss an exciting account of a true event in history that eventually influenced Herman Melville in the writing of "Moby Dick." (Oh, I forgot: I read Philbrick's "Why Read Moby Dick." I have "Sea of Glory" on my bookshelf waiting for my attention. And, if anyone's interested in Custer, he has written "The Last Stand." So much to read, so little time.)
Way up there!--for two reasons: (1) Conrad's suspenseful romana clef story is wildly compelling, which surprised me because I had avoided it for decades, thinking it was more or less just for guys. Published in 1899, near the end of The Victorian Age, perhaps it did attract more male than female readers at the time, but having just finished it, I can say it is timeless and will appeal to all sophisticated readers, male, female, or otherwise. One of my favorite aspects of the story was its insight into European colonialism and empire-building, in this instance...Africa.(2) But, as well as this dark, sinister tale was crafted and presented by Joseph Conrad, the characters and situations literally sprung to life with Kenneth Branaugh's superlative performance. I am convinced that **no-one** could have brought more realism and understated passion to Heart of Darkness than Branaugh. Hands down, his narration of a story of this type is THE BEST I've heard on Audible to date. He set the bar very high. Henceforth, for me personally, his performance has become the standard by which all others will be judged.
I read "King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa (by Adam Hochschild), and that was a good look at the European power grabs for territory and the atrocities perpetrated on the people already living there. Joseph Conrad wrote about just such events at the time they were occurring. I might have to revisit my book by Hochschild now that I've heard Branaugh read "Heart of Darkness." I'm also reminded of "The Poisonwood Bible," a novel by Barbara Kingsolver that told of a misguided missionary who believed he was called to Africa to spread The Word. He moved his family from Georgia to the Congo in 1959, a time when that area was in considerable turmoil after foreign colonialism had broken down. The point being that when the Europeans gave up in that area, greed of a religious sort moved in to enlightened "the lost"--and the attempt to frighten Africans into submission continues.
He did all of them so well, even the minor characters. For that reason, I couldn't single one out as the very best. I'm convinced he could read the back of soup cans and have my full attention.
The depths to which man may sink if there are no checks and balances...
"Heart of Darkness" is not for light, casual readers -- say, readers who prefer romance novels, fantasies, etc. It IS for readers who would appreciate a foray into the psyche of man and empires--and the collapse of both.
No, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope there will be a sequel.
Dr. Lin -- well-developed, complex character wrestling with conflicting emotions in matters of the heart and social culture.
Dr. Lin and any number of the Chinese speaking characters. Her presentation of the different dialects had a ring of authenticity, although her English was impeccable as well.
Indeed, it was. I completed it in fewer than 24 hours--an extraordinary accomplishment for me. Sometimes I have trouble focusing, but such was not the case with *Lost in Translation."
There is a Bill Murray film with this same title, but the book and the film in no way spring from the same source. Two completely different stories. I wish they didn't share the same title because the film was borderline awful, and a reader might see the title of this book and incorrectly associate one with the other. Don't be misled, as I almost was. I have this novel in book form but had delayed reading it. I decided one day to download it from Audible. What a good decision on my part. With the Chinese interspersed throughout the story, the narrator delivered a depth to the novel that I don't think I could've possibly realized had I simply been reading the words in my own mind. I give the narrator 5 stars.
The three stars I've given the story is my personal code for "liked it okay but wouldn't listen to it again." I found the story fairly exhilarating in the first part but less so in the second (final) part. I was eager to return to the story initially, but for the last 4 or 5 hours it was a bit of a chore for me.
The Lucy storyline intrigued me and certainly held my attention, but best of all was the portrayal of Jonathan's visit to Count Dracula and his subsequent imprisonment by the Count. The visual image conjured by Dracula stealing out his window and slithering down the castle wall will remain with me forever. I'd seen it in films but reading such things is almost always better. The least interesting or most annoying aspect of the story was, in my opinion, the incessant praise and near canonization of Miss Mina. I realize this was nineteenth century writing but after a while I started rooting for Dracula. Enough already with the fawning.
I am familiar with John Lee from his reading of "Pillars of The Earth" and with Simon Vance from "1434." I cannot fault their delivery.
Yes ... but not so worthy that I would listen to it again, nor would I eagerly recommend it to others.
Report Inappropriate Content