This is a great first novel. The characters are very strong, the story is truly compelling and the warmth for the culture is obvious. I found myself missing the characters when I wasn't reading. It is, of course, a treat to have multiple readers and they all do a great job. There are some flaws that could have been edited out which is often typical of a first novel, but they just don't matter given the weight of the story and the breadth of the characters. One of my all time favorites.
I enjoyed this book, but I wouldn't ever recommend it to anyone. I enjoyed it because I wanted to have more of an insight into Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and thought starting with their marriage was a good beginning. So it was a very personal motivation and it succeeded in that the book does chronicle the marriage, poke into many of the rumors and paint the two main characters as noteworthy to be sure. BUT I now expect my non-fiction forays to be told by a good story teller - I guess I am spoiled, but this book just sort of loped along and relied on its facts rather than its art.
While I have had some good reads this spring, nothing compares to the joy I have experienced in reading this beautifully written book. One of the first things I thought of when I finished it is that I have to start all over again sometime so I can stop thinking about the content and just bask in its exquisite language and imagery.
I have read numerous books about World War II and the ones I have liked will stay in my memory for a long time. I have not listened to one as good as The Book Thief until this book, however - funny how they both center on a child's perspective. From the thoughtful characterization to the masterful unfolding of the plot, this is a book that cries out for you to download it right away.
I have read a lot of John Irving - some very good, some not so good. My favorite book of all time is A Prayer for Owen Meany. He can't write another one of those and I knew that when I started this book. Nonetheless, the characters are very well drawn, quirky, very human and quite Owenesque. I liked this book, the story is solid but it was missing the tight, clearly crafted writing that I think of when I think of Irving. I am glad I read it, but I am not going to run out and tell everybody to read it.
I was completely enthralled with the beginning half of this book - the author wove a good story and kept me entranced with true events about a disturbing time. I found myself suggesting this to many other "boomers" who might, like I, have protested the Vietnam War in the 60s, didn't know the clear response to people like us from the FBI and have been intrigued by the despotism of J. Edgar Hoover.
It is a good read but not all the way through. I got bogged down with the level of detail that Betty Medsger used and found that her story telling ability didn't continue through the second half of the book.
Like a former reader, I also found it puzzling why a man read the book when it is written by a woman. I also found the editorializing he did through the way he read the book to be annoying.
Despite all of this, I didn't stop reading the book because I do think those at the heart of the book - the men and women who carried out the burglary -- need to be honored and praised for their courage. Each of us needs to know what despicable acts were perpetrated in the name of democracy and learn from the knowledge.
This is not an easy read - the length and the story definitely require a commitment to the story's end and the characters' journey. But what a ride! Donna Tartt's style is riveting - she writes and you are there, caught in the web of her exquisite descriptions. Her characters are so solid, so endearing, at times so frustrating, but ultimately unforgettable. I generally stay away from "dark" books and this one is dark but it isn't ponderous or without hope. It is SO worth the ups and downs because it is such a fine piece of literature.
A particularly telling standard I have for if a book is good is if I listen to it as I am walking the 5 minutes -- not half hour, but 5 minutes -- to my office from where I park which I did throughout my read of this one. It definitely interrupted my life - the two strands of the love story and the commentary on race in America and in Nigeria kept me glued to the book in many unusual situations. I walked more as I read this book and I listened whenever I could and still be responsible. It is beautifully written, the characters are plucky and memorable and the story is very clever. Perhaps most important, it will shake your beliefs around a bit - and when is that not a good thing? The New York Times was right in naming this one of the year's ten best!
Once again, for the past week, I have been in the enviable position of loving a book so much that I didn't want it to end. I have found Elizabeth Gilbert's name, unfortunately for her, will more often than not pull a rolling of the eyes from someone when I mention it. I have had to convince my friends and family that Gilbert is a fine writer - even if you didn't want to go with her on her self-reflective journey which I found more of a romp than a great work of non-fiction. Nonetheless, if you have this prejudice, don't let it stop you from listening to this excellent book.
Gilbert can tell a good story and this one is a dandy! It spans 80 years but I never lost interest and found myself plugging in to the story in the oddest of places just to hear what came next: the equivalent of a page turner. The characters are vibrant and riveting and the tale is full of life. Juliet Stevenson is one of Audible's very best narrators,truly; if you have never heard her read a book, it is your loss - she is nimble and talented with the change of character. Great story, fabulous narrator - it doesn't get much better than that.
Elizabeth Strout is a talented writer and brings people into my life whom I would probably never otherwise meet. These are simple, genuinely kind people who, like all of us, are trying to navigate life's difficulties - in this case, a mother and 17 year old daughter who don't really start communicating until they are faced with major obstacles. The characters are beautifully drawn and the changes they come into are authentically depicted. I loved it.
I have read many of Ivan Doig's books because I love Montana and the way Doig tells a story with characters that I feel like I have met sometime in my life. Some of his books are more successful than others; The Bartender's Tale is one of his best. Once again, Doig spins a tale of a simple life with complex flavors and, again, I didn't want this book to stop. David Baker is excellent in catching the sounds and pauses of the characters so well that I was immersed in that life and how the story unfolded. This is a sweet story, a story about a wonderful young man and his Dad, his best girl friend and all the other gems and crazies that one might come across in a bar in Montana. Ivan Doig, thank you for this gift.
I downloaded this book to listen to while I was driving to Wyoming with the purpose of keeping me interested in being in the car for hours. It worked because Dan Brown can tell a story but it's still not great or even good literature. There is a place for this but don't expect to remember much about it a week later.
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