This was my first reading of Scarlet Letter. Canadians aren't as exposed to it in high school/college as Americans. I can see that it endures for its landmark importance in American literature, but I would not have enjoyed the novel for itself had I not just finished Susan Cheever's American Bloomsbury, with its biographical details of Hawthorne's life, especially his relationship with Margaret Fuller whom she postulates as at least partial inspiration for Hester's courage, strength and philosophy.
With Hawthorne's background in mind and several audiobooks on 19th centruy American history recently "read," I enjoyed the lengthy "customs house" sketch/intro more than the rest of the novel.
Eliot and Hardy wrote later in the century than Hawthorne, but not that much later, and they were so much more adept at re-creating earlier periods in their nation's history and mentality. I can't help but wonder if Elizabeth Gaskill read Scarlett Letter before she wrote Ruth, supposedly the first Engish lit novel to tackle the subject of "fallen woman" sympathetically - there seems to be more than one similar character.
Scarlett Letter (not Ruth!) is still worth reading (or re-reading as an adult). This edition was well priced, with acceptable narration for the price- Hawthorne's sentences must be hard work for any narrator.
I recently re-listened to the Rebus series in order since they are all available to me now. Most stood up - or played even better taken chronologically. In this one, however, Rebus is still an Adam Dalgliesh wanna-be, drinking Chablis, reading and listening to the classics, friendship-hugging vulnerable women. And Rankin is still learning how to write. That said, it's still a decent mystery, just not what we'd expect from Rebus or Rankin a little later in their careers. The biggest value was seeing Holmes and Rebus at the start of their relationship.
I really dislike Page as a Rebus narrator - but that's a more personal choice.
This second in a series is an excellent mystery, with storylines that hold up for all 13 hours, quirky and well drawn characters, great period setting, some humour. Main character – Breen – gets slightly darker through his experiences in novels 1 and 2: If the series continues for many instalments, he could became a Rebus!
To the squeamish (me): One corpse description near the beginning and one near the end are a little grisly (and as in the first novel, a small passage in the middle could bother sensitive animal lovers). Apart from that, no graphic violence but some good suspense. I work with technology all day, so I welcome older mysteries or period pieces that don’t hang on digital devices. And my inner social history geek loves Shaw’s ‘68-69 London. Of course the plot is good but secondary to the other elements and is as much about petty office politics and corruption as the BIG corruption described in the blurb -- more about how mundane compromises come in shades of grey.
Stewart's narration continues to be excellent EXCEPT that some of his women’s voices are too shrill, almost Pythonoesque. As in the first novel, I found this jarring for the first few chapters but then either my ear adjusted or he found a rhythm.
I so wish there were a dozen in this series rather than two. I stumbled across the first as a Whispersync bargain – and thought I’d found more in Kindle, but it appears that the novel is published under different titles in the UK perhaps –so shop carefully.
I don't usually rate a detective novel 5 stars - but this deserves it as solid, smart entertainment that provokes a little though but no angst.
If you are interested in Rebus but not attracted to the whole series, this might be your entry point.
I am rereading/listening to Rebus, in order this time since the unabridged audio of all is now available in my region. This seems to be the novel where Rebus becomes that character some of us love so much, fascist though he can be. Though I usually prefer lighter crime novels with justice for all, Rankin created my favourite detective of all time here.
Michael Page is NOT a favourite narrator of mine so I delayed listening to a couple of his Rankin novel narrations, but he's OK for Rebus - more restrained than in other novels, but he still goes too gruff to distinguish some male characters (less shrill for women than he can be). However, James MacPherson became the voice of Rebus to me, so I feel something missing with Page and others - if MacPherson versions are available to you, get them if you can understand a delightful Scots accent. But skip the abridgements, even with that narrator --they make little sense because too much plot and character is skipped (not to mention setting, a real star of the series' later novels).
Not saccharine-cozy, certainly not hard-boiled, this includes a decent mystery with humour and nice late 60s period touch. What the author gets refreshingly right is that overused "younger eager investigator --- older senior officer" relationship. The Beatles background is just a small part of the period setting; more prominent are the changing gender roles, sexual mores (nothing explicit though), and race/ethnic group relations. And it was better written than most of its kind. The Whispersync price was a great bargain when I purchased. I hope there are more "Tozer and Breen" books on the way - I could have tried a series binge, based on this one.
This isn't too sentimental (nor too gruesome) and convincingly recreates the possible development of one possible truce situation in the 1914 trenches. It doesn't directly address any BIG questions, other than the very powerful one posed by the truces themselves. I liked that it highlighted the conditions in the trenches, again without being too gruesome for family listening. I'm so happy to see commemoration of the centenary of the Truce since so many battles are so well remembered.
I"ve had Hill's Serailler series in my wish list for years, but hesitated to hit "buy." This short is just OK; however, the listen tells me enough to know that I will enjoy a full length Hill listen-- a well-written modern take on a village cozy with police procedural added, somewhere between the depth of PD James and the lightness of Deborah Crombie. The excellent narration lives up to the positive reviews of Pacey as the voice of this series.
American detective fiction tries to be too action packed or grisly for me, cozies tend to be too cute, and I usually skip anything containing the PI acronym-- but I’m very glad I took a chance on this. The Sam McCain series seems to be the same “weight” of a Charlotte MacLeod, with similar gentle humour, humanism and craftsmanship. McCain is a young small town PI/lawyer who sleeps with his cats since his romantic ideal eludes him; He confers with his Mom and Dad and gets sick if he drinks alcohol (but still it doesn’t get too cute).
Gorman is I think an older author, and there is thread of respect for elders and veterans running throughout the three in the series that I’ve enjoyed so far. This is more “nostalgic” rather than historical fiction written with modern sensibility, but that made it a better comfort read, the kind of mystery that soothes a head cold and relieves tension from listening to too much about current affairs. I get the feeling that Gorman is capable of much heavier fiction, but he gifted the world with some needed diversion instead.
Pinchot's narration was perfect. I bought the book as a Kindle edition first, thinking it would be better as a speed read, but it was written and narrated so well that I recommend the audio (check whisper sync price).
The “coming of age” descriptor put me off, but once I started this novel, my ears ate it up – It’s like a young Scottish Colin Bateman all fired up. Not today’s youth but those becoming political aware circa millennium are chronicled in this comedy of manners. It reminded me of why elder writers like William Boyd ought not try to re-create Bertie Wooster but instead let young writers write about fresher experience for Wodesonian humour. If you’ve ever marched against the Man (be it Vietnam, Cruise, Iraq or a 1% Logo) OR if you’ve ever wanted to understand those that have— try this.
warning: lovely working class Scots English narration (*listen to sample!) and MUCH chronological anarchy in the history this weaves
This is very faithful to the original, and well recast in 21st century teen talk--- however, take the period out of Austen, and you have a light chic lit tale, too often told. I thought McDermid might bring out the darker satire of Northanger – my biggest concern before downloading was how would I react to McDermid’s usual graphic violence in an Austen classic – no worry! This re-telling will not alarm the most squeamish. I kept waiting for some kind of twist, so I kept listening (well, there’s one tiny cute twist, coming from McDermid). My time would have been better spent re-listening to Juliet Stephenson reading the original. Like an Oxford School paraphrasing of a Shakespeare play – why bother if you want more than the bare story, and if you just want the bare story, why go on (and on) about tweeting Twilight and other modern teen concerns? If the intent was to make the novel more accessible to younger audiences, I think that’s a miss, too: the beauty of Austen is that she draws readers into more complex prose and period. Perhaps if the market weren’t flooded with Austen spin-offs, this might have been a novelty at least.
P.S. The blurbs in the publisher’s summary MUST be about other McDermid novels!
I thought Hardcastle might be a binge series for me, but I couldn't become engaged with this instalment. I like the early WWI English setting, I like the attempt at slice-of-working-class-life, and even the central mystery was OK - - but the recipe didn't cook for me. The author repeatedly tries to interpret FOR the reader very simple dialogue and actions--- without these interruptions and some extraneous and drawn out details of weeks spent travelling from Hardcastle's home station to the scene of crime area(s) and back, I might have found this a quietly satisfying whodunnit, albeit with thin characterization. I chose this instalment because it is the first in chronological order (rather than order written), and I'd expect the author to know his craft better. It's a series I want to like, but unless there are some good reader reviews for other novels, I won't be downloading more. The WWI setting earned it a third star from me.
Report Inappropriate Content