I would certainly recommend this book as an audiobook. It is very well written and read. It is detailed without dragging, and is also very human in the way it talks about these two giants of mid 20th Century America.
In a biography I do not find it possible to choose a favourite character, as there are no 'characters'. Each person written about existed and contributed to the story of Franklin and Eleanor.
I have not heard Tavia Gilbert before, but she did not intrude into the reading in any way and I would be happy to listen to her again.
I was always reluctant to stop the reading when the time came to go and do something else. I had it loaded to my iPod and so was able to take it with me most places and during most activities. Listening as continuously as I did, made the people in the book much more real.
What a remarkable pair these two were! And how little I knew of them - I am not American, and so am not as familiar with the folk who peopled and contributed to the history of the USA.
I was engrossed in their story, and very impressed with the work they did, both of them, their commitment to the things they believed in and, not to make them into angels - their foibles and faults.
They became so human.
No, not better. Each one has so much to offer the person reading or listening. Both are intimately connected to Richard Flanagan in a remarkable way.
I have not read a book quite like this one. Richard Flanagan has written so sensitively about human relationships - between people - and within oneself. The way he writes challenges the reader/listener to reflect on their own experiences, even if that person does not recognise what is happening to them as they work through the book.
For a lot of the book I was drawn to Darky Gardiner; and I was shocked to discover his origins. The revealing of his story, was as ironic as it was loving.
In the end, I had the greatest warmth for Amy. Her bewilderment, her illness, her life, mostly unexpressed after the early part of the book, brought out the caring, nurturing part of my soul. I felt good thinking about her.
I was so very impressed with the way Dorrigo Evans' story is brought around at the end of the book. Such sensitive and insightful writing.
I was deeply moved to hear Richard Flanagan reading his book. Many authors are far from being adequate narrators. RF, using a flat voice, with very little intonation, allowed the characters to reveal themselves without any veiling.
The story. I think that Ms Hannah has captured the essence of Agatha Christie's story telling style. There is a lot of reliance on dialogue to move the plot along, always interspersed with Poirot's egomanic claims that HIS little grey cells are superior to his offsider's!
The only 2 comments that I make about the book, is the setting is not a classical Christie setting - elite hotel, aristocratic home or simple English country village. (Indeed the village in this story bears more relation to Midwich that St Mary Mead!) The other comment is that the writing is a bit more detailed than I am used to with Agatha Christie, making the story a bit too long.
However, neither of these was a significant barrier to my enjoyment of the book. I congratulate Sophie Hannah on an excellent replication of a Hercule Poirot tale, and await her foray into Miss Marple's world.
Not on the edge of my seat, any more than one of Agatha Christie's stories did. What it did do well was to get me to exercise my little grey cells. I thoroughly enjoyed the many and varied red herrings as they trailed across the story.
I haven't heard Julian Rhind-Tutt previously, and I thought that his personification of Poirot was especially good. I liked his voice and the pace at which he read.
One problem that I did have was that he varied the volume of his voice rather too much, and that even with earphones that sit inside my ear, there were times when I had to turn the volume of my iPod very high (if I had time) and then, when using hie regular voice, it was much too loud.
No extreme reaction - a quiet delight that there is someone who can write a good copy of Agatha Christie's style.
If you are a Christie afficionado - read it. If you have never read Christie - read it, but then read some Christie afterwards
It is a long book. Within it there are 3 sections in each of which a significant crime is committed. This is a great structure. But the book is filled with back story and explanation of character's observations and responses. Personally I think it needs a very severe edit in order to bring the focus much more clearly onto the crimes and their intentions and results.
Less words. Too many descriptions and backstories.
None of the scenes was particularly memorable to me. In spite of all the explanations and descriptions, the characters did not come alive to me. Having said that, I still think the concept in the book is terrific - that of elderly people grabbing life by the throat and shaking the gold from it.
I haven't started planning a crime spree, but I think I will be very vigorous in editing my own writing.
So - I think - listen to this story when you need a long and meandering tale that has excellent concepts in it - grey power and the Zimmer Frame Gang standing up against the inequalities in their world - and told in a slightly amused, slightly ironic voice. But don't expect anything profound.
I haven't read this book, I have only listened to it.
I don't think it is very easy to slip this book into a genre.The story is horrible, macabre, bizarre - in the class of weird that I put M J Hayder - but it is not only that. It is more; and more important.The motif of unaccompained children being taken by someone that they know, rather than a stranger is very, very unsettling. All the more so when the listener realises the reason behind the kidnappings. What happens to the children is not dealt with in any detail, and if it were, it would be unbearable. BUT - This book is written by a man who clearly understands the machinations of the Public Service, in particular, its awful failings and bureaucracies. He very cleverly juxtaposes these with what is happening to the kidnapped children and how The System fails them. And fails them very badly.He also shows how the system, being amoral, can never be changed nor overcome by an individual; and so, in the greatest irony of all, the listener discovers that Norman, the Children's Czar without a job but who cannot be removed from his public service post until he transgresses the public service codes, Norman then enters that other massive and amoral bureaucracy - the Roman Catholic Church!
No favourites, I just found it very easy to follow the book because of the clarity of David Timson's characterisations
No Picnic For Teddy Bears
Only to a friend who a) really liked drawn out mystery/thrillers; b) needed an audio book that lasted a long time - ie someone who was travelling a long distance/time; c) had a lot of patience and d) is very open-minded about sexual dysphemisms.This is because this story, although filled with murderous and ghoulish twists and turns, moves remarkably slowly - and this is different from your average thriller book. There is a lot of backstory in it, which is interesting and to some extent useful, but it seriously interrupts the flow of the front story.Amy, the female protagonist is a particularly nasty woman with a sweet affect and a pitch black soul. Her various sexual images is disturbing and, was for me, unpleasant.
Amy's plot(s) were ingenious. Amy's back story was almost irrelevant.
The interview that Nick does with Rebecca in the pub.
Not without a lot of editing and shortening of the story. I don't think it has enough to carry a TV series, other than a 2 or 3 parter that tells the story in some detail.I am not very au fait with current stars, so am not able to comment on who would be good currently. From yesteryear - I think Amy was almost written for Joan Crawford and the hapless Nick could be played by James Stewart or Kevin Spacey.
The essence of this story is excellent. The twists and turns were not easily predicted, usually, and there were a lot of them. My difficulty was that it went on and on, and much of what was told did not take the actual tale any further forward. It was a lot of reflecting by one unreliable character about the other, equally, unreliable character. The opinion of one of them about the other was not often helpful.
The format, of Nick and Amy speaking in the first person was very good. Neither of them are reliable narrators, both of them lying frequently but undetectably.The readers were very good. They brought the characters to life vividly.If you have a long time to fill in, or simply enjoy an almost neverending story - then this would be an excellent choice.
Using the audio edition meant that I could have the programme running more than I would be if I were reading. However, when using audio, it is much more complicated to turn back/go back to something that is referred to in an earlier chapter.
I think that the listener/reader will have to choose according to their personal situation.
There is no story - this is a book about psychology.
I thought that she read very well. Her voice was clear, her pauses were enough to allow me to absorb the information.
This could only be made into a documentary and as such it would be terrific with the name and tag line that it already has.
It's immediacy.And it's sadness.In doing what was his passion and his purpose, Salman Rushdie was condemned, not just by the fatwa, but by many colleagues and countrymen who accused him of doing it for the publicity!
The decision to have a baby and then the birth of that baby - Milan. It spoke of hope in a very hopeless place. A place that then grew more hopeless as the marriage that produced Milan broke down. Yet Rushdie expresses an eternal hope in the love that he bears for both his sons.
Salman Rushdie himself. Resenting being called Joseph Anton and yet thinking how clever he was to have devised it- too clever for his minders, who then called him Jim!
His patience with his situation and the occasional outbreak of frustration. His bewilderment as other people seemed to misunderstand and to resent what was happening to him and how much it was costing to maintain 24 hour protection for him.
His personality glows softly in every word.
Both. But neither in an extreme way.
I certainly felt outrage towards those who condemned him for The Satanic Verses without reading it - and that included Ayatollah Khomeini.
I was also very annoyed by the attitude of the Iranian government who prevaricated about removing the fatwa, even going so far as to say that because Khomeini was dead, it could never be removed. It reinforced my opinion of that regime.
This is a long and very interesting book.
It has to be as the fatwa lasted from 14 February 1989 to a nominal withdrawal 24 September 1998.
Rushdie still receives cards on the 14 February every year from hardliners who declare their intention to carry out the fatwa. He describes this rhetoric rather than a real threat.
The prose, the prose, the prose. Salman Rushdie has a poetic style throughout this book that is fable and mystery and historical novel in every sentence.
Yann Martel's Life of Pi. Maybe because they both encompass something of the subcontinent that as a Western raised Anglo, I cannot quite hold, but which enthrals me.
Myth of any culture is a fascination to me, and both these books have a quality of myth and parable. They demand that I look deeper into everything I know.
I have never listened to this narrator,and I thought he was excellent in portraying the various characters so that they were instantly recognisable each time they appeared.
If I had a choice, I would like to eat a meal with all the characters and to watch the interplat amongst them. I didn't feel drawn to one in particular.
I may read/listen to this Booker of Bookers another 199 times, and always there will be another layer to peel back. I will not live long enough to know that I have grasped it.
The anecdotes from the life of Hilary Mantel that are then reflected upon by the author and placed into the context of her whole life. It is a complex book, but there is a simplicity about it that is very graceful.
Clearly, by my plagiarism of his title, C S Lewis' book, ' a Grief Observed'. Although Lewis is writing about the death of his wife, and his responses to it; and Mantel is writing about her never-born child, to me they are very synchronistic in their integrity and openness.
I did not think either wrote of raw pain, but rather of observed pain. They were able to experience and then describe an internal feeling.
No, I have watched innumerable 'Midsomer Murders' though.
In this book, I found her voice sympathetic and expressive. It told the story without being in any way obtrusive to it.
I do not think this could be made into a film. It is too intimate and inward looking. The actual story of the author's life is not remarkable and would not really make for good watching.
What is remarkable is how Hilary Mantel focusses on her emotional responses to the events of her life - and that is something that can only be presented in words, not pictures.
The book is complex and rewarding. It is short and beautifully crafted.
I think it speaks to all of us, as each one of us has had a deep loss at sometime in our lives.
It is important to say that such a complex book will not satisfy in a single listening/reading. There is too much in it to take in. However given its brevity it is easy to listen to a 2nd and even a 3rd time with as much interest in it as was there the 1st time.
Raw, real and succinct
Without any doubt, it was Mary's description of the crucifixion of her son.
Meryl Streep has a soft and deep voice that is very easy to listen to. She is also a consummate performer and uses her skills to bring this suffering woman to vivid life.
...suffering so great that even speaking the name of her loved one is unbearable...
Don't listen to this book if you do not have some idea of the life of Jesus and, to a lesser extent, his mother, Mary. Most of the events referred to in the story are not explained, clearly it is assumed that the reader knows them.
Don't listen to this book if you want to find a kindly mother who is coming to terms with the death and loss of a son - that is not the Mary of this Testament. This Mary is truly suffering, not only the loss of her son, but from her own actions, her own responses to him in life and death.
Don't expect to understand the characters, or even to know who they are, when you listen for the first time. I have listened to it and also read it three times, and each time I uncover more. I am still not sure of whom Mary is speaking at times.
This is a gut wrenching, heart tearing book; but it is so alive, so real, so beautiful.
Don't be afraid to listen to it.
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