This book begs for editing, as the author writes conversations that creep so slowly they become silly, and it sometimes seems like she was getting paid by the word. THAT said....
Give this book a chance, and it becomes a fascinating portrait of a smart, talented and accomplished woman, daughter of a politician and a suffragette, who marries the man of her dreams and is immediately strapped into the back seat; in the plane, in their life, and in the public's eye. Hard enough, in the 1930's, to be a woman who wants to use her brain. Add to that being married to the world's first superstar, hounded by media worldwide, envied by all for her 'luck', and being expected to be the perfect Mrs. while her own considerable skills as aviatrix and author are ignored. A dead baby, a Nazi-loving husband, secret wives and children in other countries, and a woman who takes back her power and her life without any bitterness, caring for her husband as he dies of cancer. It really becomes a great, big, generational saga.
As the author notes, writing a historical novel has an advantage over a biography; the author is not confined to depicting what happened when, but can insert emotions. The 'whys' of what happened and when can be explored, using diaries and info from friends and family. That is one of the reasons why I enjoy historical novels more than history, which I do love.
Sci-fi and fantasy generally do not interest me, but being a chronic insomniac, I was immediately grabbed by the title of this novella. I wanted to love it. I did love the idea of a pandemic of insomnia that is killing millions; finally, scientists have learned how to extract the essence of pure sleep from the uninfected, and the purest comes from infants. No one knows if taking their sleep from them is damaging. That's about as far as this novella goes (sorry, spoiler!) and that just wasn't far enough to satisfy me. Nice beginning, tho.
I had not heard of Christopher Moore before listening to this book. I was hoping to be entertained, but not expecting more. Moore!! He's hilarious! and no cliches, no used jokes, no good ol' boy humor, just really funny original crazy-inventive comic writing that had me laughing out loud, which is rare. This guy must be a real kick at happy hour! Loved, loved listening to this. Fisher Stevens' narration was hysterical, too. Pure fun.
I admire the author. Some of the phrases in this book are so beautiful I feel the words catch in my own throat, even though I am listening it being read. And it's an awful reader, at that. I am simply flummoxed by the choice of this particular reader for this gracefully worded and delicately unfolding end of life story. The reader's voice is loud, really loud, with scarce inflection most of the time, and he just hammers through some scenes that are so heartbreaking....couldn't he have paused to, maybe, take a breath, or something? If this style of recitation was deliberately matched to this story, then I am at a loss to understand or appreciate or like it. I tried, re-tried, and tried again to get through this book, but I was not able to finish it.
This is the testament of Mary, the mother of Jesus, convincingly written by Toibin as a confused, sorrowing, outraged woman, a heartbroken widow and mother, who lives in exile, 'watched' by hostile agents and also watched over by her son's followers, but she can't always be sure who is which. She waits for death.
The story goes back (briefly) to the happy days of Jesus' childhood, and through his tumultuous adolescence, when Jesus falls in with the bunch of misfits and 'twitchers' that Mary despises, and she begins to fear for his future. Then the 'miracles' start, and the Romans notice, and all hell breaks loose. Meryl Streep's narration is aching with sorrow and a mother's regrets, hoarse with mourning as she realizes that there was nothing she could have done to change her son or the course of events, but interspersed with such love and longing when she talks about their happy family times!
I was incredibly moved by this book. The performance was perfection. And I am just in awe of the author.
The book is a confessional, the woman confessing a hard-working, self-made success; and also a very sad self-hating drunk who is on the edge of destruction. Her narration is so smart and frank, so insightful when it comes to other people, but not herself! She is hilariously sarcastic describing the inhabitants of her little burg (I admit, I'm from NY, I love that!). I would love to have a couple of margaritas with this woman! Except, of course, she can't stop at a couple.....
This woman displays some ugly behaviors. I loved her anyway. She develops a wonderful relationship in the end with another character who has some yucky flaws, but, again, I just loved him. Credit the author. Wonderful story, admirably written. I will definitely revisit this one.
I was discussing Kingsolver with a pal the other day, so I had to come back and review this sad book. Sad subject, sad thrown-together attempt to make an important ecological argument in a 'woman-finding-herself' novel...what a mess!
Ms. Kingsolver's early books are like magical chants to me, almost; the settings so Southwest I feel the heat, desert quiet, 'animal dreams'......but this book feels like a throw-away, like she owed the publisher one more. I was shocked. It is just really awful.
If she wanted to make a statement about the loss of monarch butterflies, she should have written an essay, as a biologist, for a periodical.
I'm pretty sure I'll never get to Africa to go on safari. I imagine them to be fantastic, though. This book painted great mental images of African wildlife and some people clumsily running around trying to get good pictures of them. Great narration. Really fun.
At the time of WWII, much of the Philippines was uncharted, and its inhabitants unknown. Rumors of a verdant valley hidden in deep mountains, dubbed Shangri-La, had bored American flight crews taking sightseeing trips over the area in good weather. When one of these flights crashed, four horribly injured survivors got to see the valley and meet its primitive inhabitants in person.
Nice narration by the author. Very interesting explanation of the crazy slingshot the rescuers devised to get their comrades out of that small, narrow valley ringed by treacherously tall mountains and hundreds of miles of dense jungle and Japanese soldiers. Fascinating to hear of their encounters with the natives, although I couldn't help wondering what we were missing.
100-yr old Alan is ornery, maybe a little dotty, you think. But cute, and funny! you are really rooting for him as he escapes the old folks' home and makes a slow walk for it to the train station, buys a ticket for as far as his pocket money will get him, and kinda--HeeHee!--takes a guy's suitcase with him as he gets on the bus.
The rest of the book is a Rube Goldberg contraption, some of it blatantly silly for laughs, some of it convoluted and surprising and funny, as it looks back in time over Alan's very interesting life. I do hesitate to compare this story to "Forrest Gump", altho it's historical time-traveling is reminiscent of that movie, lest that trivialize a really funny and well-written book. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this!
This was a fascinating story, told in rich detail, about kids murdering to cover up a murder. The author was skilled enough that I felt the growing paranoia among the protagonists spread to my mind; I began to doubt what I thought I knew of the characters. Who was lying? Was someone setting up someone else? Who was sleeping with who? Plots seemed to grow within plots, and I was fascinated. And then the end came. An argument, a shot, they all go live their lives. WHAT?! Donna Tartt seems to have had a great idea for a novel, but no good ending. I felt really let down and annoyed.
Also, she's a pretty lackluster reader.
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