I wonder if I would have enjoyed this book more if I read the text. Especially for the first half of the novel I was distracted by the overwrought reading of the narrator. She sounded as if she was continually wringing her hands. The book deals with emotional scars left by war, but the topic is more effective if presented in an understated way. Having just finished The Rules of Civility, this suffered by comparison.
In addition, the jumping back and forth in time as the same incidents were related from the point of view of the different women was a little confusing. Maybe using different narrators (as was done for the wonderful recording of The Help) would have been a good idea.
The book explores the effects of WW II on three women and their children, during, and in the years after, the war. While too many topics are attempted to be completely successful with all of the threads, the author does write well and I found myself caring about the characters. The title comes from a quote of lexicographer Eric Partridge: ???War???next to love, has captured the world???s imagination.??? This novel is a pleasing foray of imagination into the struggles of loving well under war conditions.
There is a barely perceptible pause between the various pieces on this recording, so I'm providing an index for those who are looking for a particular one.
00:01 -- 20:48 A Child's Christmas in Wales
20:50 -- 25:53 Fern Hill
25:55 -- 26:28 Do Not Go Gentle
26:30 -- 44:21 In the White Giant's Thigh
44:23 -- 48:21 Ceremony After a Fire Raid
The sound quality of the recording is not as excellent as we have become used to with contemporary recordings, but the benefit of hearing Thomas's own rich voice is worth a little background fuzziness, in my opinion.
The publisher's summary more than adequately explains the setting of the novel. I simply want to recommend this novel and its narration, done by the author herself. It is warm, intimate, and deliberate. The German accent is not difficult, but rather gives a flavor to the reading that enhances the experience of listening. As a teacher, I found the relationship of the protagonist to her students to be remarkably insightful. The canvas of the novel is brush-stroked with the complexities of human relationships, whether it be parents to children, one teacher to another, among the villagers, or among the children themselves, and the author explores the ambiguous question of when compromise is a virtuous sacrifice, and when it becomes a moral failing. We see this village through a mist of melancholy, as we know what is around the corner for these schoolboys with the rise of Nazism, and yet the experience of listening to this book is ultimately affirming of the preciousness of human life and relationships, at the same time it gives an appreciation for the precariousness of identity and belonging.
For those who would like to be able to locate individual stories quickly:
0 ??? 27:26 * Nicholson Baker's "Subsoil";
27:40 ??? 49:54 * John Updike's "Farrell's Caddie";
50:22 ???1:28:47 * David Schickler's "Jamaica";
1:29:10 ??? 1:55:45 * Neil Gaiman's "Chivalry";
1:56 ???2:43 * Leonard Michaels' "Nachman from Los Angeles";
2:43:45???2:55:45 * Ron Carlson's "On the U.S.S. Fortitude";
2:56???3:04:57 * Etgar Keret's "Fatso"
I love this audio version of the Tales, but without an index it can be frustrating to locate a particular tale. I'm a teacher, and like to have students listen to excerpts. I didn't complete the times for all of the tales, but hopefully what I provide here will save another teacher a lot of time.
Canterbury Tales Bookmarks on Audible edition
General Prologue, Part I to 46:20
Knight's Tale, Part I 46:25-- 2:51:52
Miller's Tale, Part I 2:52:03-- 3:30
Reeve's Tale, 3:30-- 3:55
Cook's Tale, 3:55-- 4:06
Lawyer's Tale, 4:06-- 4:57
Sailor's Tale, 4:57-- 5:23
Prioress' Tale, 5:23-- 5:39
Sir Thopas, 5:39-- 5:50
Melibee, 5:50-- 7:49
Monk, 00-- 48.56
Nun's Priest, 49:00-- 1:25:46
Epilogue 1:25:46 - 1:26.41
Physician, 1:26-- 1:42:13
Words of Host to Physician and Pardoner, 1:42:23-- 1:45
Pardoner, 1:45-- 2:18
Wife of Bath, 2:18-- 3:32:54
Friar 3:32:56 --
Squire, 00-- 32:21 (unfinished)
Host to Squire and Franklin, 32:22-- 34:15
Franklin, 34:15-- 1:18:33
Second Nun's Tale, 1:18:33
Here the Maker, 6:19-- 6:21:50
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