What a true joy -- Nora Ephron's writing complimented by Meryl Streep's narration. Perfection. The only thing that could make this a better experience would be eating cheesecake while listening.
I really had great expectations for this book. Years ago read Empire Falls and loved it. I have listened to other books narrated by (and written by) this narrator, and he's great. I love getting into a long novel about small town life, interesting characters, and I had great hopes when I started listening to this one, especially after reading the stellar reviews. Unfortunately, I'm now giving up, with only four hours left to go . . . I keep trying to stick with it, but I just can't do it. The characters are static, the plot is just not interesting . . . the gruff voice the narrator uses for Sully, the main character, while authentic, is grating to listen to for so many hours. Sully has a lot of dialog! I just can't get excited about listening to old men (and I'm in their age group) talking to each other at work, at the cafe, at the bar, in the car, in the truck, etc. etc. etc. etc. I keep hoping Sully's relationship with his landlady, with his son, with his grandson, with his co-workers, etc. etc., will CHANGE, and maybe this will happen in the final four hours of the book, but I realize that I just can't bring myself to listen to four more hours. I'm disappointed, but being honest. I'm sorry, Sully!
I didn't think a novel about the disappearance of two young girls could be boring, but this one is. Very disappointed in the writing style AND narration style. I made it through the first five hours and decided to quit while I was ahead. I found the pacing of the book in complete opposition to the story. The multiple points of view and multiple narrators did not help. The overly sweet narration style of both mother and daughter got in the way of the plot, as opposed to adding complexity. The characters never fleshed out; they displayed consistently odd reactions to the events unfolding in the book. Maybe I missed out by not finishing, but I had enough.
I have enjoyed Grisham books in the past and looked forward to listening to this duo. I've been trying to get into "A Time to Kill" for the past couple of days, but find myself bristling at the constant use of the "N-word" every fifteen seconds and the exaggerated southern drawls and racial dialect of some of the characters. I understand that the author is setting the novel in a particular culture and a particular location, which are key to the action. The narrative is set in motion by a shocking racist crime. I "get" this. Maybe reading the book in print would be a better experience, but I find myself distracted and upset by listening to the characters' constant use of racial slurs, and it's honestly detracting from my enjoyment of the book. I don't think I'm going to finish listening; I'm about halfway through and find myself not looking forward to my next installment.
I REALLY, REALLY wanted to like this book -- J.K. Rowling is such a good author . . . I had been looking forward to reading/listening to it . . . and after plodding through seven hours, I surrender. I CANNOT get into the story at all . . . the characters drone on and on, repeating themselves with no development . . . it's hard to keep all the characters in the town straight . . . I found myself looking forward to the storylines about the teenage characters, and I am far from being a teenager, because they were the only interesting inhabitants of the town. I hate to "give up" on a book, and I hope I'm not missing out on a zinger of an ending, but I just cannot listen to another word. The prose is well-written; the narrator is articulate and easy to listen to . . . but the plot (if you can call it a plot) is a major non-event. I give up.
I was so disappointed by this book. Listened to all of it, expecting it to get better . . . but got to the end without finding relief from a surprisingly dull and pointless plot, bad pacing, and unappealing characters who never developed. The story lumbered on with big events just landing on the page and going nowhere, in spite of such an intriguing premise and setting. The narration was fine, except for the odd choice to make the character of Dr. Swenson sound like an imperious robot the entire way through.
After being introduced to what initially seemed like interesting characters, I was disappointed by a plot that just plodded on through decades of poorly-paced and awkwardly drawn-out characters and artificially forced relationships. I felt no real connection to any of the characters, although I really "wanted" to be drawn in. The author's style of exposition became quite annoying, with supposedly important characters and "big" events being introduced awkwardly throughout the novel. Finally, I found the narrator's style very intrusive. Instead of reading, he constantly "acted" . . . his cadence was unnatural and showy, his reading overly dramatic and annoying. This is a novel about everyday people, not epic events. His inflections for various characters (Vermont, Japanese, southern) were distracting and unnecessary. Perhaps this book would have been more enjoyable to read than to listen to.
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