This is a story about two people who wouldn't normally spend time together. This book created a casual atmosphere that was easy to step into, the book definitely drew me in, especially by the time the two main characters established a connection. Despite it being a bit of a chick-lit type of read it definitely got to me, I was listening to it addictively and even cried. So that'd definitely the sign of an author who is able to share something with a reader.
Intellectually I knew some of the themes to be over-used (opposites attract, the analysis of class in England, which if you've lived in England like I have can get a little tiring, the slightly neurotic butt of jokes disempowered female) and didn't like that chick-lit was getting to me in this way.
I also didn't love what felt like an unnecessary point of view change away from Lou Clark, whose point of view the majority of the book is written from, to other minor characters. The strong accent used for one of the characters (Lou's father) also drew attention to itself and seemed unnecessary to me.
Some of Lou's character traits at the beginning of the novel seemed to be pushed down the scale extra hard so that she could be given a more dramatic progression into someone with new characteristics by the end of the novel. Sometimes I felt the author wanted to debate the subject matter of the novel, to present differing viewpoints in a way that felt a little artificial. Some of these things I intellectually recognised as constructs or gimmicks and as not necessarily serving the story. But sometimes I think to myself that it doesn't really matter if I felt something, if I enjoyed the book and forgot about my surroundings. I was rooting for the main characters, felt affectionately towards many of the people in the book and immersed myself in their stories. There were some precious moments in this book too, that felt very real, and were funny eg Will's birthday gift to Lou. This was a book I couldn't put down, so go Jojo Moyes.
This book is written from the point of view of a teenager with terminal cancer. It might sound depressing, but it's hilarious in parts, and despite dealing with heavy themes has a lightness to it. I immediately sent a hardcopy to a good friend because I needed to share the story. I haven't read anything quite like it. Maybe we all wrestle with existential themes most when we're in our teens and Hazel wrestles beautifully, with a real sense of humour and a sense of herself that's very much beyond her years. I was entirely captivated by her, the romance and the mission that she and Augustus go on. It's a really magical read.
Based on the life of Louis Zamparelli, this book taught me a lot about the part of WWII I hadn't learnt much about before, the prisoner of war camps in Japan.
There are a lot of hardships and triumphs in this book and the mere ability of Lou to endure is incredible. It's definitely a book that I couldn't help feeling swept up by, it's harrowing in parts, it being a true story and the protagonist actually living through the horrors described. I would have liked more of an in depth exploration of the psychological aftermath of all of the suffering lived through, maybe even on the second generation. It is reviewed, but to me it felt simplified, which it maybe had to be given the breadth of events described and what was probably the author's overall intention to tell an individual's story of hope. Towards the end, much more than at other parts of the novel, I felt a degree of removal from Lou and a detachment I didn't like. This was perhaps because the immediacy/urgency/acuteness of his problems had dissipated.
Ultimately it was an uplifting story and one I would recommend.
I haven't read a Stephen King novel since being a young adult. Back then it was horror and I still very much associate Stephen King with that genre. I downloaded this after seeing all the positive reviews on audible, spent many nights un-doing the sleep mode on my phone app because I couldn't stop listening to it. To me this book has everything. It's really intelligently crafted, there's a certain amount of humour or sarcasm that somehow won my respect. Despite that the language is beautiful, the novel has a nostalgia, beautiful as well as ugly characters, romantic love that isn't saccharine and a real journey or adventure that I felt very involved in.
It was the kind of book that made me marvel at Stephen King's imagination and wonder about the kind of life he's lived that allows him to be so versatile. I ended up googling him and JFK (the subject matter of the book) and feeling a new affection for the time period in which JFK lived and a new appreciation for the impact the assassination must have had on the psyche of the US. But this book went way beyond teaching me something, it entertained the living daylights out of me.
The performance was fantastic, the voices and accents the narrator put on felt real and almost like a piece of good theatre. I've already recommended this book to friends and would do the same to the audible community. Also, if you like to stretch your credits, you get something like twice your average length of listening time out of this credit.
I love mysteries, I've seen Truman, the movie with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and felt this should be on my reading list. I probably approached the book with high expectations but didn't find it absorbing. I can see why it garnered the fame it did though. I'm sure that in the America of the 1960s authors didn't even-handedly address the lives and motivations of cold-blooded killers. I felt a genuine curiousity and compassion in Capote's writing and he's evidently researched the lives of the killers in minute detail. He paints what seems like a very accurate picture of 1960s Kansas, seems to have read actual letters and transcripts and conducted many interviews.
It's tough engaging a reader in 2013 where the reader knows the story and has read hype about the book and the author (flamboyant, alcoholic, friends with Harper Lee). I kept wanting to warm to either the victims or the protagonists more, or to come to some understanding of motivations - I never did. Many mystery novels I read and love are about senseless killings, but they keep me on the edge of my seat, with either suspense, or a character whose development I want to follow. That didn't happen here.
As for the performance, as a French speaker, the hack job pronunciation of a French quote at the beginning of the book by the narrator - to the point of it being incomprehensible - got to me. That said, the narrator did have a lovely voice and accent for southern males which this book is populated by, so the performance does suit the large majority of the text.
I LOVED this story. It was so simple and so true. It took all of that innocence and loyalty and silly happiness that dogs have, got right past my defenses and hit me where it hurt with short and sweet observations on human nature that just rung true. This all while telling an engaging story with characters I believed. They were very real to me and I was sad when I'd finished this book but also felt like I'd been fed some soul food. Do it, buy it!
There's an interesting start to this book. Lance Armstrong narrates the foreword and I can't help but think of the doping scandal that overshadows his achievements now. His foreword kind of primed me to look out for machismo, for ego. This set the scene for me to feel sceptically about elite athletic pursuits and I wasn't much helped out of it by not warming to Chrissie as much as I'd have hoped.
I picked this up because I've read and loved books like "Into Thin Air" by Krakauer and "Born to Run" by McDougall. I was looking for an inspiring read, an insight into the mind of a person who pushes her body to the limit. While I found Chrissie to be very self-aware insightful and honest. I also couldn't help feeling like it was all a little too glossy. Challenges and set-backs are described, but over all it was success story after success story and I felt a little hit over the head with it.
I did learn a lot about the world of triathlon and ironman, as I'd hoped, but it didn't have the inspiring effect on me that Born to Run did. I didn't ultimately find Chrissie that accessible and did't feel a sense of inclusiveness around the description of her experience.
I think readers with an interest in adventure/sport stories or in biographies will get the most out of this. Chrissie is an exceptional woman and has used her success to raise the profile of charities. She's certainly a role model, I just don't know that she spoke that much to me personally.
I was taken in by the story and found Victoria to be a lovely protagonist. Although not classically 'easy to love' I did develop a lot of affection for her. I was very engaged by the story. The beginning had me and kept me reading. There was mother-daughter stuff, love, abandonment, betrayal and redemption, definitely all the themes of a good read/listen.
The narrator had a great voice for going from child to adult, but a badly put on Russian accent and grunge band voice for a male character put me off a little.
There were also some ways in which I felt the author was trying to assign Victoria too many characteristics, in a way that wasn't entirely true to the Victoria she'd set out at the beginning of the book. Both the character and the plot went through an arc of development that was readable, I just at times wasn't convinced they were consistent.
Overall though I'd recommend this to a friend, it's a good pool-side/summer read with just enough darkness not to be fluff and to feel rewarding/satisfying. There's also a little element of mystery that I liked, I kept wanting to know more. There was also an interplay of time that worked well I thought, from present to past Victoria.
Also, I look at flowers differently now, and I like that the book has done this.
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