The intricacy of war and poetry, of exterior and interior experience, of nationalism and individuality and physical and psychological health combine in an elegant and spare novel. I listened to this concurrently with watching the (admittedly disappointing) second season of Downton Abbey and revisiting The Making of a Sonnet: a Norton Anthology. Firth is a wonderful narrator. Lots of long pauses which I find initially disconcerting, but lent the work a poised reflective quality. I admire Barker's ability to write "real" lives with such naturalism.
This beautiful story, not just about the Burgess Boys, Bob and Jim, but their sad sister Susan, unravels with a slow, drawling fascination. Prefaced by another character entirely, who then silently haunts the book, building this story into myth, this novel entangled me and I was gutted when it was over.
Elizabeth Strout writes novels you live in for a while. You can walk around her towns and city blocks, you have the opportunity to inhabit any one of a number of psychologically rich characters. Her characters are flawed - racist, angry, sad, blinded by privilege or burdened with lack - and yet you forgive all of them ultimately because it is lonely and confusing to be human, connected and disconnected simultaneously to those around you, and to the things you live with.
Highly recommended. I also enjoyed the audiobook of Strout's Abide With Me.
I listened to this after reading Krien's fantastic book on the contentious politics of forestry and protest in Tasmania. I just think she's awesome. She is not afraid to interrogate her own position in relation to her extremely difficult material. She bravely inserts herself into difficult scenarios and watches and listens, asking the questions that we want to ask - she is questioning, curious, uncertain - she has the truthful chime of a child. She somehow manages to make even statistics engaging. She has a few idiosyncratic pronunciations which annoyed my husband, but I found her utterly adorable. I hope my daughters grow up to be Anna Krien.
This is such a well written book in which all the members of the family receive equal attention. The structure is cool: there are four short stories, one about Dad, one about Lucy, one about Mum and one about Will. The book falls into a genre a friend of mine calls "The Family Down the Street", which I think is my favourite genre. This is narrative of incident, gentle "real-life" stories about utterly believable characters in relatable scenarios. The adults and children are flawed and loveable, the grown ups make mistake and get cross and drink the occasional beer and run out of money and have to borrow it from their kids' piggy banks. I love these people.
I bought it for my kids (6 & 9) but after hearing snatches with them, I listened to it on my own and it was a pure delight listen.
9 year old: I think it's a good and imaginative story, with weird names.
Me: What, Lucy and Will?
9 year old (who can't talk since she's a girl called Fred): And Pokehead! There's one called Pokehead.
Me: Oh yeah.
Me: What do you think of the Quigleys?
6 yo: Um
Me: Who's your favourite character?
6 yo: Pokehead. What are you doing?
6 year old: (asks questions)
Me: Just tell me what you thought of it.
6 year old: I like the name The Quigleys. I like the Dad.
Me: with his distracted hair?
9 year old: He's always distracted, all over.
Yes, particularly as an audiobook, if they were wanting a not particularly taxing period drama and had read P&P. Though I'd warn them not to expect too much Lizzie. I would say, 'P. D. James is in her nineties and she can do whatever she wants.' In fact this indulgence was what I enjoyed most about the book!
Yep, because she's so accomplished.
A lovely grace. I possibly wouldn't have persevered with the novel if I'd been reading.
Watch the period drama montage set to "It's Raining Men" on youtube over and over again.
Will the BBC televise it? Let's hope so!!
I was incredibly fascinated by the themes of biography, memory and memoir. I found the narration terrible, largely because all the characters seemed terribly trivialised and I suspect this wasn't wholly due to the writing, but rather the delivery.
I found Daphne's character the most fascinating, but I felt Hollinghurst lost interest with her. He exploited her naivity at the end, but I didn't really believe that a character who had negotiated so many complex relationships would be that naive.
I struggled with each transition, firstly to place the characters, but then to care about them. And then I felt Hollinghurst deliberately undermined any affection that might develop on behalf of the reader, though I wasn't sure why. Having said that I thought the structure was incredibly intriguing, and it was effective.
No, because the structure means it contains its own sequels.
A really sound discussion of issues in Australian politics that I suspect translate to other Western nations too, whereby politicians no longer truly stand for anything; instead of steadfast policy making, they are reactive, addicted to the fortnightly polls and news media cycle. Megalogenis discusses the problem the major parties face in attracting Gen Y voters while still catering to the hip pocket of the Boomers and offers (still all too relevant at the time of writing this review) insight into the fascinating and depressing leadership wrangles between Rudd and Gillard. Megalogenis reads the essay himself and it's not slick, but he has a great voice and this was anything but dry.
I am glad I listened to it on audio, because I'm not sure I could have finished this on the page. The narrator was fabulous, empathetic towards his character, thoughtful in his presentation and enhanced the experience. Having said that, I have had more satisfying audio experiences.
Oh yes, but with caveats. I'd say, 'It's an easy read and a fabulous mediation on adolescence - in fact I related very strongly to the teenagers though the era was far earlier than my own coming of age decade. However [insert things here about anally retentive old men, depiction of female characters etc]
No, but would seek others out.
I found the character of Adrian very resonant, I felt like I had met men like him before. I really found the first half compellingly real.
Sometimes it does a book (if not an author) a disservice to win a major award. I had in my head the whole time,
I loved the layering of experience: the story of Henrietta herself, the utterly compelling narrative of the destiny of the HeLa cells, the story of Skloot's own search, and then the moving narrative of the descendants of Lacks.
I also listened to The Help this year, and think there is something to be gleaned from these two extended works about the healing power of storytelling. While I often shrink back from white people telling black people's stories, both these books actually tackle this problem head on, exploring the problem of who is telling whose story and why. Restoration through narrative.
She was one of the narrators in The Help apparently (must have been that weird third person section?) Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed her reading.
A story of science that comes from the heart.
My daughters really enjoyed the freeform storytelling style of this. Viner's dreamy folk style makes this a great bedtime audiobook or good for calming the kids down in the car.
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