I was drawn to this book due to my interest in the period and my fascination with how a nation could so embrace a philosophy that is so alien to the rest of us today. I was absolutely enthralled by the subject matter and the detail descriptions of some of the more colorful and yet abhorrent characters of this book. To me atleast, the book explains in detail the pure absurdity of the final months of the war and the total inability of the powers that be to change the outcome of destruction that Germany faced. There really was no alternative to Hitler. I truly wish that Audible release more Ian Kershaw books on WWII fairly soon. This is wonderful reading (listening) and if you like history, this must not be missed.
I had sorely missed reading a good crime novel for ages. Some list recommended this as a worthy read and I was intrigued by the Author. I had not known of Ira Levin and many of his writings that were turned into major motion pictures. Someone wrote that this novel, the first from Levin, is his Magnum opus
Certainly the character of Bud Corliss, a certified psychopath is an intriguing invention. As you read through the pages, you can feel the drive of this individual to attain the one thing he lacks; money, fame and social standing. He will do anything to attain his goals including outright murder. He feels nothing for his victims as he calculatingly removes his obstacles.
This is not a mystery novel but a true, fast paced, crime story. It is beautifully written and keeps you well engaged until the last page is turned. I really enjoyed this book and thoroughly recommend it.
I watched the 2006 film version with Ed Norton and Naomi Watts and thoroughly enjoyed the adaptation. Somewhere I read in a review that the adaptation had the familiar Hollywood gloss and the book was somewhat different. Finally, I got a deal at Audible and I dived in.
This was my first Maugham and I enjoyed the period setting of this novel in the colonial Far East. The character of Kitty Garstin, a self-absorbed socialite is a character I despised. The story revolves around her infidelity with a dashing but unscrupulous married diplomat and the luckless husband, Walter. There are some wonderful quotes in this book that makes you read it out twice. They stick in your mind long after the story has died. As Waddington, an alcoholic diplomat says to Kitty,
“Some of us look for the Way in opium and some in God, some of us in whiskey and some in love. It is all the same Way and it leads nowhither.”
In summary, the words within the book are stronger than the story and there lies the strength of Maugham’s writing. There are no characters in this book other than perhaps Waddington, who captures your imagination as a progressive, cohabiting with a noble Chinese woman. The rest are thoroughly rotten in their own way. At the end, you even wonder if Kitty finally does find salvation through her experiences.
This is a good book and I recommend it.
I have to say that this is my best ‘listen’ on Audible for 2014. It’s a superbly written and narrated book based on the life and times of Henrietta Lacks. Not only her life, but the religion of science, period of exotic discovery, lack of ethics in medicine, shameful bigotry, and the ultimate victories of the human spirit.
When I came into this book, all I knew was the word HeLa. I knew nothing of the wondrous discoveries that these cancerous cells gave the world or its actual beginnings within a woman of color. The author is to be commended for her long and thoughtful endeavor to publish this fascinating history. The author’s journey took more than a decade and its final reading escaped the woman who should have heard it the most; Deborah Lacks, the daughter of Henrietta. Deborah had labored and toiled to make her mother be known, heard and understood and yet she dies on the evening of that triumph.
Even though Henrietta and her family never achieved the sought after financial gain or any recognition from her immortal cell line whereas many individuals and companies did, we should ever be grateful to a woman that lived in a segregated decade and suffered in death, with gifting humanity of her cells which are even used today to discover remarkable cures.
This was a very fast listen and probably deemed a novella. Yet, it won the Booker in 1973 and deservedly so. Its writing and storyline are marvelous with lots of comedic situations interlaced with horrific death and mayhem. The sense of fair play, pompous attitudes, constrained lifestyles, witty interludes of conversation and utter idiotic and flamboyant behavior are all intertwined within a narrative of residents trapped by a mutiny. This all takes place in a faraway residence in India under the East India Company. Well where else would it be? There is nothing more sinister or comedic, based on your interpretation, than reading about the local residents camping out on a hill, viewing the battle between the sepoys and the residents play out amongst cannon fire and vultures bloated on corpses. Finally, the residents emerge, not quite victorious, but thin out of hunger, diseased and rather smelly. A metaphor for the British Raj I am sure. Great book!
Now I have completed all four of Morton’s books. She is an amazing story teller and there is no doubt she will generate more fascinating stories that I will devour. She has a tendency to simply awe me and I am captivated by her mysteries.
In this book, as in ‘The Distant Hours’, the same period in time, the 1940s, is revisited. And as in all her books, the protagonist is the strong female and the men play only the supporting cast. That is fine by me. The story is strong, nostalgic, tragic, and draped in history. Second chances are possible if not necessarily deserved. Afterall, there was a killing or perhaps even a murder!
For the first time, I felt that this book was not as strong as the others in Morton’s armoury and the chapters somewhat lengthened to fill the word count. Especially, I was somewhat dulled by the chapter dedicated to Dorothy’s beach excursion. Also how is it possible that a very famous actress like Laurel, can just wonder about town without being harassed in every street corner?
Still, it is a wonderful book and I will recommend it to the diehard Morton fans like myself.
We have all heard about Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen and their heroic journeys and sacrifices during the golden age of Antarctic exploration. But who has really heard of Douglas Mawson? I certainly did not know of this man’s escapades during the early part of the 20th century until I heard this book recently. It is a painstakingly researched, well written story of Mawson’s adventures trying to explore the unexplored regions of Antartica. The Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AED) was a remarkable scientific foray into the hellishly cold and windy regions of the south pole. Many remarkable characters make up the expeditionary party and crew of the steamer Aurora as they journey towards packed ice fields, stormy seas and the hurricane gusts of Commonwealth Bay. Many early chapters of the book is devoted to Mawson’s earlier life as an explorer and his ambitions to create the AED. Individual party members are also studied in detail and described. I particularly enjoyed the stories of Frank Hurley, the expedition photographer. The actual harrowing story of how Mawson survives the perilous journey on the ice alone for 30 days after his two compatriots die is remarkable but only plays a smaller part of this book. That is the reason I think the book was mistitled. Nevertheless, the story is an amazing piece of history that needed to be told for future generations.
This was another recommendation based on my reading history on Audible. Specifically I think it was based on my love for ‘Beautiful Ruins’ which was a spectacular novel. There is so much to grasp in this novel which floats between two human beings, Lenka and Josef, forever joined through love in a tumultuous time. Separated and lost, they continue their lives into the future still longing for the times they had spent together during the early part of WWII. Remarkable research on the Theresienstadt concentration camp is embedded in the novel where Lenka suffers through the Nazi occupation. Both believe the other has perished and only a chance encounter many decades ahead will fulfill their eternal love. The story is very believable since millions were separated through anguish, hatred and circumstance during WWII. The author specifically mentions that she was inspired by a similar event that was conveyed to her. It is a beautiful story and well written. Sadly, the narration is so so. But it is worth a listen.
There is no doubt that this is a remarkable story. A man situated at the right place at the right time? Perhaps not! Still, there is so much of information here from Siegfried Knappe. Even though he was not necessarily fighting house to house in Stalingrad or facing the D-Day landings from the cliffs, he was close to the major operations as an officer. Especially telling is the last days of the battle of Berlin and the fight to defend the last vestige of the Third Reich. I read that part atleast twice to understand the mental pressures of the last men standing. However, as with other memoirs of the German soldiers, it is troubling to always note the absence of knowledge of the holocaust. Numerous times, he briefly mentions momentous occasions such as Kristallnacht, or his memory of a Jewish friend. But it is unconvincing, atleast to me. Yet, it is about country, family, and honor that drives Knappe to the end. Problems aside, it is a remarkable piece of history.
This is a book that will stay with you for a very long time. Perhaps a life time. As I listened to this, I asked myself a simple question. Could I put my life in danger to save a friend? I do not know the answer. But I thank god, there are others who selflessly sacrifice their own safety for the sake of others. This story is written for all those unsung heroes, past, present and yet to come. Even though we know much about Anne Frank and her diary, this book added an extra perspective on Anne for me. Strictly speaking it is the life story of Miep Gies and her husband Jan Gies. But there were many others who took extraordinary risks for the safety of the hideaways. Their stories are also told. This is more than a play or a movie. This is a life lived in an evil time where trying to feed eight people in an attic can mean life or death. This is true history at its best.
Continuing my education of books that won the Man Booker price, I picked up White Tiger which won the coveted award in 2008. The synopsis of the book and its setting in bustling Bangalore which I visited recently hooked me into this tale. I really wanted to like this book but the central character, Balram Halwai, never seemed likeable or plausible. He is as usual, in these types of Indian novels, the downtrodden poor village boy with no hope. Yet, he is a masterful schemer, learning from his social status and surroundings with a streak of evil to succeed in the long run. Perhaps that is the reason I did not enjoy the story telling. Or perhaps it was the narrator. Either way, I wanted more out of this book than I received.
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