I have listened to all six of the Chronicles one after the other with no other books read or listened to between them. One could almost say it was a baptism by complete immersion. That it might have been, but it has meant that it has convinced me that Trollope was a man of total brilliance.
I was in search of a new Jane Austen or rather of gentle comedy of manners in a historical setting. I didn't want abject poverty and daily struggle, or anger, swindle and darsteadly deeds - I've tasted Dickens and he's not to my taste and the Bronte clan with their overwhelming poverty doesn't leave me enlightened just melancholic but Anthony Trollope has delighted me to my very core.
Trollope is a master of characterisation and observation. His main characters are fleshed out and truly appear three dimensional and his minor characters only slightly less so. The pace of the action never gallops along but neither does it dawdle. His humour is gentle, sometimes obvious but always witty. Several times I have been caught laughing out loud.
The Last Chronicle was a bit bleaker than the previous ones but throughout it all and that despite the apparent hopelessness of the situation you knew somehow it would turn out right for all concerned. Characters from the entire series appeared in this last book and it was delightful to have them drop by.
Trollope has the wonderful habit of finishing each novel by tying up the ends of each of the story lines nice and neatly. You are not left wondering what might have happened. At the end of this last book everyone of the story lines were finished off and there was a sense of completeness, total conclusion and satisfaction. I was sad that it was over but there was no sense of doubt, wonder or concern about the fate of a character which was rather uplifting. I wish more books and even movies would do this!
A word about Timothy West - he has to be one of the best narrators. To take on the task of narrating over 120 hrs of book with probably as many characters must be daunting at least but he took it in his stride and brought the books alive with his characterisations. Narration is not acting, there's no positioning, no visual aids to assist with the action, it is voice alone. The voice of the author telling his story and the speech of the different characters, Timothy West did it all with the greatest of aplomb. He was perfect for these books.
Listening to the Chronicles has made me a fan of Trollope and I shall be seeking out more of his books. If you like Jane Austen you will like Anthony Trollope, her literary honorary grandson if you will! If you are looking for a gentle tale among England's green and pleasant pastures in the 1850s this is for you, no windswept moors, no blackened cities, no continually failing crops or trouble at mill. I will be back to visit Barsetshire again in the future and after over 100 hrs of listening you can't get a bigger recommendation than that!
I knew this book only from hearsay and the Winona Ryder movie and I was feeling in a classic sort of mood when I bought it but not wanting to work too hard to listen to it. Its not Trollope although its amusing, its not Henry James but it has an American in Europe, it doesn't have the polish of Edith Wharton but it is a lovely book for all that.
It has some indications of feminism in it but most of all it is a book that can be seen as a guide for adolescent girls wanting to do the right thing in early womanhood.
Its a hark back to the past but some of the lessons learnt still have value today. A most enjoyable listen but relieved both to be a male and that its the 21st century!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the second in the Pallisier Series. Again previous characters crop up now and again but only to provide a bigger context to the actual action by the new characters.
Trollope was a marvellous creator of believable heros and heroines and relates their emotions and thoughts with total reality. Its not a skill but a gift to be able to do that and he has that gift in trumps. Its as though he has gotten into the mind of the characters. It makes them three dimensional and live and breathe and utterly believable as real individuals.
Again Timothy West is wonderful at narrating and brings even more life to an already lifelike story despite the fact it is a tale from a long lost age.
Highly recommended to those that enjoy Trollope and those that want to understand why parliamentary reform was so necessary in the mid 19th century.
I am a new convert to Anthony Trollope. I have listened to all the Barsetshire novels and I am delighted to hear that some of those characters are appearing in the Palliser novels. An English "Comedy Humane" in the manner of Balzac, except it is so terribly terribly English. One can see the vivid green grass in the fields and smell the mustiness of the old houses but it is a delight all the same.
Timothy West is perfect to read Trollope, in fact dare I say he was born to read it. He brings the characters alive and the descriptions to vision.
There are several novels in the Palliser and I am thrilled to think that I have many hours of enjoyment ahead of me.
Bel Ami starts as a penniless returned soldier and by the end of the book after affairs and marriages he is one of the most powerful men in Paris if not France. He tramples on all he meets, money and position become everything and his sexual gratification is the cherry on the top.
The women in the story seem to be strong but really are weak and bend to his every whim and it shows that the story is basically a story of human desire, weakness and determination. Maupassant was well know for his excellent characterisation and in Bel Ami the characters are brilliantly portrayed.
Listening to my favourite Maupassant has really stimulated my hunger for more French literature which I have read extensively in my 30s. However, having it read to me gives it a whole extra layer of richness and complexity (and correct pronounciation of the French names and places!).
This book is highly recommended - listen to it before you see the film. The movie has been given a bad review but if you go in knowing the story and the main characters you might get more from it. Certainly you will go in understanding better the times and morals and be less judgemental. I hope to see the movie myself shortly. Standby - I might add to this review after I have seen it!
This was an interesting book but not the easiest of books to listen to unless you had a map of Paris in front of you most of the time. I know Paris quite well but even I was sometimes confused and was grateful that Google Maps were there at my fingertips.
It certainly showed that Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann didn't lack balls, as to make the boulevards that Paris is now so famous for, they had to carve up medieval and historic central Paris to put in the much needed thoroughfares and to make Paris into a modern city. Really only a despot and a single minded administrator could do it and thank God they did. This is the story about how they did it.
I enjoyed it but the narrator wasn't the best - he had a strange accent (English clearly wasn't his first language), he paused in the middle of sentences, but his pronunciation of the French names of people, areas and roads were a delight to hear akin to music.
Recommended to those that are interested in Paris, Urban Planning and understanding French History from 1848 - 1870.
I expected this book to be filled with amusing stories of goings on both up stairs and down stairs during the war. It wasn't that at all. Each chapter had a main character with a story to tell of war life that involved either Claridges, The Dorchester, The Ritz or The Savoy.
Once I got over my disappointment that I wasn't going to be spending the time being amused I actually really enjoyed the interesting stories being told of the communist storming of the Dorchester and the post war strikes at the Savoy or the gay bar in the basement of the Ritz.
Through it all the duchesses continued to stay in their suites often even during the air raids and ate very well in the dining rooms - purchased food wasn't on coupons and was dependant on availability so pheasant and quail and woodcock continued to be roasted and eaten by the rich.
An interesting book with some humour but most of it was exhibiting the typical stiff upper lip stuff that went on during the war.
This is an interesting concept - the short stories are real cases in history and Donald Thomas has put Sherlock Holmes in as the detective that solves the mysteries. I really enjoyed it as it put a whole new level of complexity into what are often complex stories.
Well narrated by John Telfer again and I would recommend this book to history buffs as well as Holmes fans.
A long time a go I read a collection of Sherlock Holmes mysteries in a big hard cover book that I borrowed from the library of my Great Aunt. I am sure that it was a first edition but where it is now I have no idea. I remember being riveted with the action and confounded by the mystery and amazed at Sherlock's observations.
I was no less riveted, confounded and amazed by this book. I can highly recommend it and plan to read more modern interpretations of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. They appeal to my gothic nature without the need of zombies and the like.
This is a treatise, or maybe it was a PhD dissertation, whatever it was it was ever so learned and made my eyes rotate with pain into the back of my head. Most of that pain was at the murderous narration by Sean Schemmel - if you are going to have a learned text narrated at least get some one who can read long words and gets geographical names correct. The other pain was the names of the tribes and leaders listed ad nauseam and the fact that a pertinent point was repeated several times just so that in the stream of learned stuff you didn't miss the salient point.
I persisted and listened to all 3 volumes as I am interested in the topic but I shall not need to delve any further into the migration of the germanic hords in the first millenium AD any more - I have heard the definitive history now and can relax in the knowledge that my history of the fall of the roman empire is complete.
I was initially disappointed with this book - 3000 years is a lot to cover and the years BC were very confusing and not very exciting listening. I felt that the wars between the different greek colonies ended up being a list that just baffled me.
I was particularly interested in the Norman occupation and that didn't disappoint and really from then on it was well written and held my interest.
Poor Sicily has had many invasions and masters. It has been included in several empires and ruled by kings and emperors that lived far away. None of it really changed the character of the sicilians themselves.
The latter part of the book concerned itself with the unification of Italy and the mafia which made most interesting listening but it took a lot of getting to.
I do recommend this book - persist with it and you will get to some hidden gems and nuggets of interesting information.
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