This is my first M.C. Beaton book and I am finding it very disappointing. I like the narrator fine and the author writes well, but the main character comes across to me as really petty and sad! She seems primarily to be a person disappointed in life. Listening to it feels like listening to someone complain, which is tiresome and depressing! I like books where the main character faces adversity and is a flawed human being, yes, but this woman's personality does not seem balanced by any real liveliness, wit, or spiritedness, which is what I look for in a heroine. It seems every few minutes mention is made of her envy, fears of seeming old, competitiveness, jealousy - her inner monologue is a catalogue of slights and rejections, etc. She seems driven by fear and envy mostly. I like listening to books with main characters I can pull for, and as much as I'd like to, I can't pull for this woman. I won't be finishing the book.
I got this book because it was free, but I found it perfect for listening to while working out. Not too complex but not flat and overly predictable like some books in this genre, lots of action, breezy, fun! I'm glad audible offered it for free and I already have the next one in the series on my list to purchase. Thanks Audible!
I am grateful to audible for responding to the request for Barry Maitland books. Thank you Audible!
I first learned of this mystery series when I was in the UK, from a fellow mystery lover who works in a bookstore. I wanted something with a good plot and with characters that are three dimensional, not just stereotypes - characters that one can come to care about. This series was recommended to me I have been hooked ever since!
If you like mysteries set in London and the surrounding areas, with characters that have a bit of complexity but are not too heady, and if you care about realistic dialogue and good suspense, you might enjoy this series. The books are sort of like Jacqueline Winspear (I can't think of who else to compare them too right now), but not set in the past and perhaps a bit less sentimental and more emphasis on twists and turns of the plot - I'd also say the characters Maitland writes are a bit more complex. Part of the interest in this series is the bond between Brock and Kolla.
The wonderful narration captures class accents without being caricatured.
I didn't give the book five stars because the theme of critiquing shopping malls was a bit heavy handed, and because this isn't "great literature," but it's such a pleasurable read and the plot and characters and narration kept me eager to listen more.
I hope others will find and enjoy these books and that perhaps we will get more of Brock and Kolla in the future....
I had high hopes for this book given how highly it was rated by others. I was disappointed to find how negative and unlikable the characters were. I listen to fiction to escape and/or to learn, and I like when there is someone interesting to care about or pull for. This story felt to me like something written by a depressed writer in winter in Brooklyn - it just didn't capture my imagination or hold much heart or suspense for me.
I am really enjoying this book so far. Steve Martin is such an intelligent observer of human nature and human behavior, and he's a very good writer. It's hard to believe that a man can write women characters so convincingly, but as was the case with his last book, he manages to capture something elemental and true to female behavior, dress, ways of thinking. I'm not saying all women are like the main character in this novel (thank goodness!) but the main character rings true to me as a woman, as was the case with his last novel's female protagonist. He's a great observer of women's mannerisms and styles. I live in NY, and though I am not a scholar or collector of fine art, it seems to me he captures the NY art and gallery/auction scene as it was during this time period. It's a great, well-observed and well-described glimpse into a world that few of us have the money, time or life experience to enter and I'm finding the story line so far compelling, entertaining and suspenseful even if I wouldn't want to be friends with the main character. She has a certain magnetism and the suspense that carries the story along is equal parts what will she do next and what will happen to her. Clearly Steve Martin knows this world of NYC art, fashion, neighborhoods, personalities from the inside and it's a kind of a buzz hearing him describe things so aptly. I recommend it if you find these things interesting, or if you want to see the surprising literary range of a good actor and comedian.
This book is beautiful - maybe Burke's best yet. I am going to wait a few months and listen to it again, just because it's so well written and well narrated. Very evocative and poignant. I love Clete and Dave!
Irresistable! I agree with Jonathan of Ottowa's review wholeheartedly. This is one of two (so far) Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley - I think both are delightful. I highly recommend this series and hope Bradley will write more, and that Entwhistle will narrate them - she brings them so beautifully to life. The main character is a smart, witty, observant, precocious (in a fun, amusing way) Pippi Longstocking type character - full of mischief, independent spirit and bursting with the sheer joy of being alive. Flavia, whose mother died when she was one, lives with her sisters and father on her family's old country estate in England. She loves scientific experiments and solving mysteries. She weaves facts about science and history with funny and often wise observations about life - these contribute to and never get in the way of the flow of the story. The descriptions of English country life and of the landscape and village characters are also good and round out the story. It was an act of genius to pair this delightful heroine with narration by Jayne Entwhistle - It's an inspired combination that adds to the truly fun experience of listening to the story. I have been a member of audible for years and cannot remember enjoying a character or a story more than this. This book (as well as The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag) have made me smile and laugh out loud with the wit, spunkiness and vibrance that Entwhistle conveys through her narration of the character of Flavia. Please write more in this great series, Mr. Bradley, and please have Entwhistle narrate any forthcoming books in the series, Audible. Though written by a man, I think perhaps this series might appeal in a special way to females. It is not a children's book, but will appeal to persons of any age who remember what it was like to be eleven years and old and full of enthusiasm, curiosity and energy for life.
This is one of two (so far) Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley - both are delightful. I can't recommend them more highly. The main character is a smart, witty, observant, precocious (but in fun and amusing kind of way) Pippi Longstocking type character - full of mischief, independent spirit and bursting with the sheer joy of being alive. Flavia loves scientific experients and solving mysteries, and peppers her observations of science and life with historical facts that never get in the way of the flow of the story. The descriptions of English country life and of the landscape and village characters are also good and add to the experience of the story. Thank you Audible, for pairing this delightful heroine, the11 year old Flavia de Luce, with the pitch perfect narration of Jayne Entwhistle! It's a great combination. I have been a member of audible for years and cannot remember enjoying a character or a story more. The combination of character and narrator really add to what is already a fun and absorbing story! This was not written as a children's book, but it will appeal to the adventurous young girl within readers of all ages. This book (as well as The Sweetness at The Bottom of the Pie) have made me laugh and smile with the wit, spunkiness and sheer joy in life that Entwhistle conveys through her narration of the character of Flavia. Please bring us more, Mr. Bradley, and please have Entwhistle narrate any forthcoming books in the series, Audible. Thank you for bringing this lovely character to life through these audio books. (Though written by a man, I think this series may appeal especially to females - or to persons of any age who are young and remember what it was like to be eleven years and old and full of enthusiasm and curiosity).
I loved this book! It was well written, funny, poignant and kept my interest throughout. The ending is beautiful - redemptive in a grounded and real way. The narrator is excellent and the author does a great job of making you see the humanity of all the characters, even those who are not so likeable at first glance. I thought this was just a humane, hilarious look at family, fate, choices and how we are shaped by some mysterious mix of history, relationships, temperment and our own actions. I wish I could listen to it all over again - and I will when it is not so fresh in my mind. The book really made me think about life and family, the past, and what we take with us to make a life, but not in a predictable way. It's a quite gracious perspective the author has toward human beings, with all our folly. Also the main character (Ruby) is a good heroine, creative and imaginative but not idealized. Like real people, all the characters here are flawed and limited but ultimately in the author's generous vision- they belong.
I really loved this book. I think it is so interesting just for the characters and plot, but it is also very interesting historically to learn about edwardian england. The narrator does a great job and is easy to understand and has a pleasant voice. I cannot imagine better value for the money than these many hours of good writing that will engage on so many levels. I have come to care about the characters and what happens to them. I love a long book like this that stays interesting and lets you get to know people over an extended period of time. I wish the other volumes in this audio series were narrated by the same narrator but I am glad to find this book on audible.
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