I knew about this book but had never read it, and I haven't seen the movie. I knew it involved a mystical place called Shangri-La, but that was it. I listened to the audible version, and enjoyed it very much. It's set post-WWI, an era I am drawn to, mostly because my grandfather served with the army in France. I wish I knew more about his experience, but he would never talk about it, even to my father.
Lost Horizon features an interesting narrative structure in that the story is mostly told third hand by a neurologist who hears the story from a novelist (Rutherford) who got the story from the main character, Hugh "Glory" Conway. Rutherford discovers Conway (whose remarkable personal, academic, and athletic qualities create an indelible impression on everyone he meets) in a mission hospital in China. Conway originally is suffering from amnesia, but when he regains his memories, he tells his story to Rutherford, who writes it down and gives it to the narrator. Then Conway disappears. The novel's epilogue leaves an interesting question in the mind of the reader, and I have my own preferred "answer."
When Conway and three companions are being evacuated from India during a revolution, their plane is hijacked and crashes in the mountains to the west of Tibet. The pilot dies, but the party is rescued and escorted to a lamasery, Shangri-La. I don't want to give away more of the plot, because it is so wonderful to discover it for the first time. I think I might have wanted to stay in Shangri-La, were I given the chance. I just love the philosophy of the monks: moderation. Nothing is particularly right or wrong, so there's little need for a crime-punishment mentality, which really bothers two of the kidnapped hostages. In my opinion, the treatment of time at the lamasery is the most fascinating aspect of Hilton's imagination -- especially in contrast with the experiences of people who survived WWI, escaped from a violent revolution, and lived through a plane crash -- and is the most remarkable feature of this novel.
The reader of the audible book is fine, but it's not really a "performance" narration. It suited me, even though I did not like the voice given to Miss Brinklow -- one of the kidnapped evacuees. Other voices were subtly distinct and not distracting.
I'm currently reading Hilton's book, Random Harvest, and am enjoying the similarities in the themes and characterizations. I especially like the material regarding the impact of WWI on the individuals who fought in the trenches and the way society dealt with the returning veterans.
I really like listening to Oliver Sack's books; the narrators help bring the anecdotes to life and present the drier explanations of neurological anatomy and science clearly (and allow me to drift a bit, without completely skipping material which is fascinating, but fairly difficult).
This book focuses on the inspiring abilities of several individuals to live with and positively leverage potentially debilitating neurological disorders. While I've seen other material about Temple Grandin and Steven Wiltshire, I really appreciated the more in-depth and intimate information about how they and the other "Martians" in this book live, apply their exceptional talents, and face the existential challenge of being so very different in a society where "difference" is not understood, accommodated, or accepted.
Not my cup of tea; two stars because I finished it. I prefer books where I find at least one character, hopefully the protagonist, likeable in some way, and this book is entirely devoid of that. It's well written and cleverly structured, and the narrators were fine.
I listened to this book, read by Caroline Lee, and loved it from the beginning all the way to the end. I could hardly stop listening to it, but didn't really want it to end. It's a wonderful story about how a woman (Nell) and then her granddaughter (Cassandra) researches Nell's family history. Back-story elements are woven throughout, but the plot lines are well structured and indicated by location and date. I enjoyed the gothic Victorian elements: invalids, orphans, and villains (oh my). A couple elements seemed to be underdeveloped, but I don't want to say more and spoil the mystery for anyone else. The book is romantic in a general way, but it is not a "romance" novel. I think of it as a wonderful fairy tale woven into a modern search for family and identity.
I really enjoyed the audible production of this surreal story about an alternate universe under the streets of London. Richard Mayhew's good deed takes him, reluctantly, into an adventure where he is thrust from fearful mediocrity into the role of hero. The ensemble of readers helps the story come to life.
This is a really good novel about the Civil War, focusing on the effects of the war on the characters. I really liked the complexity of the characters, who were, for the most part, well developed, interesting, and responding according to their personal backgrounds and motives. The usual, lower-level Civil-War villains tended to be flatter and a bit stereotypical, but this did not detract from the plot -- at least for me. Definitely well read.
I loved it, and it seems like the author left an opening for further adventures, but I won't hold my breath. I did find myself less happy with the reader. I thought the narration was a bit too whispery and almost kind of sing-songy, but not so much that I could stop listening for very long. The images and descriptions, especially involving Diana's transformation (a teaser, not a spoiler) made me hope for a movie or a really well-done graphic novel.
I especially like, in all the books, the use of rural central New York State as one of the settings. I grew up near there and just love the Bouckville/Madison Antique Fair.
I've read all the books, but it's been a bit of a stretch since the last one. I did not go back and re-read any of the previous books, but have enjoyed watching the tv program on Starz for a great way to review the beginning. In spite of the intervening years, the structure of this book helped jog my memory for most of the important events. There is, however, a fair bit of recollecting from most of the main characters. I did not find that tiresome, but I imagine that some readers might (especially those who did reread the series from the beginning).
I would have liked to have a bit more information about the ending (no spoilers here). As the final chapters ticked by, I kept waiting for more from the secondary storyline, and I was disappointed not to have at least some sense of the details, hence the 4-star rating on the story.
I found the weight of the hardback (signed by the author at a lecture I attended) and the size of the font a bit too uncomfortable for reading, and am very happy with the excellent narration by Davina Porter.
Enchanted April is one of my very favorite movies and I was delighted to hear all the details in the thoughts of the characters that cannot be communicated in film.
This is an excellent, first-hand account of slavery in the American south written by a man who was kidnapped from his home in New York State and sold into slavery in Louisiana. Solomon Northup's story is a heartrending story of a man's patient fight for survival and freedom. Even his fair portrayal of 2 kind masters cannot balance the years he suffers in unrelenting, back-breaking labor, the unfathomable cruelty and unbelievable brutality of several of his masters, and his constant deep longing for freedom and his family. Louis Gossett, Jr.'s narration is as expert as you would expect. It is not a "performance" read, which I think works well with a first-person point of view.
I LOVE this book. It is a darling lyrical gem of beautiful language and gentle philosophy about how the characters deal with the currents in their lives. I remember thinking that the author must have had so much fun coming up with images for the things Bonaventure could hear. I am so glad I listened to the audible version; the narrator, Maggi-Meg Reed, was perfect and found distinct voices for the characters. I wish they had cast her to read the Hunger Games trilogy. I am adding this one to my favorites list and will look for more from Ms Leganski.
One of the themes in this book is forgiveness, a favorite topic of mine. I especially like this passage, which comes toward the end of the book: "The words fell all around her then like a kind and curing rain: Father, forgive them; they know not what they do. Right there and then, Letice Arrow knew in absolute clarity that forgiveness is unconditional; it is complete in and of itself and always rises above the facts."
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