I listened to this ahead of the release of the first movie, since it had been decades since I read it and I barely remembered anything. The story was charming and clever and I really enjoyed it. The narrator didn't really work for me. The character voices were not at all what I imagined and I never got used to it. That is a personal issue, however, and I'm sure many listeners would appreciate the narration. In any case, I tolerated it and was happy to have an unabridged version to listen to.
Though Cumming is a celebrity the book has little to do with that and much to do with his difficult and mysterious family history. The story is told with vivid detail and unfolded with perfect pacing. Questions emerge, and as soon as one is resolved it leads to new ones. You are absolutely pulled along. Cumming as the narrator is, unsurprisingly, excellent.
Other reviewers complained about the narrator, but I thought, it'll be fine. But upon finishing the book, I didn't love it and when I contemplated why, the answer was the narrator. The book itself is very fascinating and skillfully told. It contains a lot of very current scientific research. I have a few questions that I'd like to pose, things that were kind of left without being explored fully. Still, overall a very worthwhile and engaging book. But listening to it is kind of a drag.
This is the third course by Professor Allitt that I've listened to. The courses are very well organized and I find his lectures extremely engaging. He does a good job of presenting a balanced picture of both the good and bad, the admirable and the deplorable effects of the Industrial Revolution, although he does share his belief that the benefits vastly outweigh the costs (which I agreed with before and after listening to the course). I particularly like how he incorporates primary sources-- letters, newspaper articles or fiction of the time.
This is one of my favorite types of books: history of science. I think the subtitle is misleading because there wasn't much about the Royal Society. Instead the book describes the scientific and mathematical questions of the 1600's and the men who grappled with them. There were many great details that I had not known.
Other reviewers complained about the narrator, and I have to agree. He has a nice voice, though I think his Brooklyn accent is not the best match for the book. But it's really his delivery that's the problem. He adds a lot of spin to convey how ridiculous things are. A calmer and more detached tone would have served the material better.
Nevertheless, the book was just my thing, and I have to give it top marks despite the narration.
Doyle's stories weren't all spectacular and neither are these. In that sense they fit into the canon perfectly well. My favorite, mystery-wise, is the last one, which seems like a case only Sherlock Holmes could solve. The first one isn't even a proper mystery-- it's just Watson not knowing what Holmes is up to.
I don't mind admitting I bought this for the lovely narrator. You don't get to hear his natural voice too much, since the stories are narrated by Watson and he has a certain gruff and pompous tone for the good doctor. He also delivers an impressive array of accents, including American and British from a variety of regions and classes. Cumberbatch makes it really entertaining. I listened to it twice and expect to listen again.
If you're considering buying this you're probably already a fan, right? I'll just say that this season contains two episodes (Vaduz and Wokingham) with plot lines that fans absolutely yearned for. Other highlights include another Birling Day, Douglas sincerely calling Martin a genius, Herc and Carolyn at the beach, some new twists on Yellow Car, everyone spends the night sleeping on Gertie... The whole season is basically a nonstop highlight reel, actually.
I'm a great fan of Diamond and I enjoyed this book a lot and learned from it. The topic is one I've thought of often-- the world has recently changed so much (cell phones, Internet, pavement, airplanes, cars, movies, television, immense variety of food, medicine) but people haven't changed. Our basic needs are the same and it's not clear how well modern society fulfills some of them even while other needs are satisfied beyond the dreams of our ancestors. The two things that weren't excellent were (a) the section on diet. This is a topic that has been written about extensively all over the place so there wasn't anything new as there was in other sections and (b) the narrator was very good but not, I felt, a good match to the book, since he sounded like a young man (30s or 40s), yet the book was written in the first person by Diamond who mentioned repeatedly that he's 75 years old. I think a narrator with an older but still energetic sound would have fit better. Those minor points aside, I loved the book and recommend it highly.
If not for Jim Broadbent I would not have finished this book. His narration was excellent. The story, I felt, just went on and on and on. Revelations were withheld until I didn't care anymore. The story was never terribly realistic, but that was OK, it was kind of a fairytale. But after a certain point it became just silly.
There were some funny moments. Still, not recommended by me.
Fabulous as per usual.
"Qikiqtarjuaq"-- what Douglas puts Martin through is excruciating and hilarious
"Paris"-- since I came to Cabin Pressure as a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch from Sherlock, this is my very favorite episode, in which Martin attempts to solve a mystery on board
"Newcastle"-- Benedict Cumberbatch is replaced in this episode and the stand-in doesn't quite have his note of desperation. Wish I could hear the real Martin try to flirt with the female pilot they are ferrying
"Ottery St. Mary"-- Delves into the age-old questions, (1) can one visualize 100 otters and (2) would they fit comfortably in Gertie? This episode is special because finally, finally, for once, Douglas does something nice for Martin
"Rotterdam"-- Really makes the most of the radio format as Martin, Douglas, Herc and another man also named Martin compete to sound the smoothest and most confident for MJN's welcome recording.
"St. Petersburg"-- a tense but great day, in different ways, for Martin, Douglas, Arthur and Carolyn and hence a treat for listeners. I was delighted to hear that a fourth series is planned, but if this had to be the show's finale, it is fitting.
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