Right up there with "A Prayer for Owen Meany" and "The Prince of Tides" for depth and complexity of an intriguing plot that grabbed me right away. The skillful weaving of past and present kept me guessing (and riveted) until the end. Along with Cassandra Campbell's inspired performance, I could not stop listening until I found out what happened. Then I did it again, slower, savoring the ingenious way this story was told. Such beautiful prose...
I always learn fascinating history (that previously held no interest for me through
Louis Bayard's novels. But Simon Vance's narration called me to this one about
French life after the revolution, the political fears that still plagued those who had anything to do with the previous monarchy even a decade later when Louie 17 was instilled on the throne. In this story about a royal son thought to have died in the Black Tower, the doctor who may have saved him and then his son- the voice that reconstructs the tale using his dead father's long buried diary and at the insistence of the (in)famous police detective Vidocq, (a former criminal) an incredible time in French history was revealed in a nonstop listen that I will repeat.
Not usually looking out for historical fiction relating to New York, but Irish immigration interests me a lot, especially because it came at different times creating a strata in NYC of old and new, powerful and disadvantaged. But they were all spirited and passionatly political. Enter Molly Murphy and my favorite historical subject, women challenging the status quo and I'm in for the duration- consuming every book- and always left wanting more. Rhys Bowen had done it again...
I love everything about this series, including author notes at the end at the end of each book that clarifies facts versus fiction, and where to find more information on the topics used in her plots. Interpersonal relationships are complex but love interests clean enough to keep it from being labeled a "romance". And if the science doesn't inspire a new generation of archeologists, ...then maybe someone should check for a blood pressure...
Pat Conroy does a remarkable job of weaving the various stories of individuals in a family- the unhappy, emotionally unpredictable parents who decieve and lie about everything; their three children who learn to keep family secrets above all else. They survive through their bond and cope with life in different ways, especially when events and circumstances invade their tenuous understanding of the world. South Carolina and southern creedo come alive with rich discriptions of landscape and humorous cleaver dialogue as their story is revealed by one of the sons to a New York psychiatrist after his (twin) sister trys to commit suicide.
Frank Muller makes this audio 5 stars. I am ashamed to admit I had avoided this title due to the lingering images of violence from the movie (over two? decades ago- I'm impressionable.) But, when desperate for a new, well told story, I rely on my own listening experience and turn to a narrator I can trust for good taste and performance (no matter my preconceived notions) of a story. And Mr Muller expertly applied his craft with a 5 star delivery, again. Unfortunately Frank is gone, but he left other delightful rides like "Wilde West" that I highly recommend.
I generally deplore abridged books but I'd have taken the scissors to this unabridged one in a heartbeat. For characters built up to be intelligent, they sure had idiotic inner dialogues and rediculous assumptions about each other. It was writtin like a soap opera in that one could skip an entire week of episodes (or whole chapters in this case) and still know what's going on due to endless repitition and mussings of each character over the same scenes.
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