©1991 Mark Helprin; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks America
"Extraordinary....a vast, ambitious, spiritually lusty, all-guzzling, all-encompassing novel." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A rousing tale....riotous energy and sustained brilliance....Helprin lights his own way, in his ownsingular direction." (Time)
"A gripping, poignant and universally relevant moral fable." (Publishers Weekly)
I could not finish this book. The hero, Alessandro, was unbearable, intended to be lovable and sensitive but frankly self-centered and condescending. He attracts only the most beautiful, sensitive women, and his every thought is a gem of innocent wisdom.
I gave up just a few hours into the novel, shortly after young Alessandro attends a state dinner in Rome at the suggestion of his beautiful, well-connected neighbor Leah Bellini, with whom he has been flirting. He sits with the Austro-Hungarian and French ambassadors, and without much thinking begins pontificating about Italy's foreign policy, making pronouncements that are more insightful (from today's perspective) than anything the ambassadors have heard before. Gimme a break. This is shortly after he outsmarts and outraces two Italian carabinieri on his sleek steed, Enrico, risking jail or a beating to reach a beach where the lovely Leah has ridden on her own horse.
I could not make it to the sections on the Great War, which are supposed to be beautifully written. Having said that, Mark Helprin is a strong writer, with some excellent imagery. His characters are just cardboard heroes, however, without shading.
The narration by David Colacci was very good.
One of the great reads of my lifetime. Story, characters, word choice, imagery, humor, thought provocation, action, inspiration, love... This book has it all!
Avid audible listener for over 10 years.
I read this book before I listened to it a few years later. I read it because I loved a Winters Tale which soon will be a movie. Mark Helprin books are rather long and demand some attention while taking in the story. The narrated version actually detracts from it. So I would highly recommend this book as something you take from your local library, its just to "dense" to listen to with any distractions. It's like trying to listen to Hamlet. While you are at the Library see if you can find a copy of Helprin's book Refiner's Fire. I actually think it was his best work.
Excellent main character and wonderful story. I like Mr. Helprin's dry humor and descriptions of people and places. He takes you on quite a journey.
This book was highly recommended and given to me in print by a friend whose opinion I respect and with whom I usually agree on books. I started reading it a few times but just couldn't get "into" it. It nagged at me for several years, so when I found the audio version on Audible, I immediately selected it. I've found in the past that I have much more tenacity in sticking with an audio book than one in print. I've listened to about the first quarter of the book and am giving up. The prose is beautiful, but there's just too much of it and not enough is happening to keep my interest. I keep thinking that it'll get better - and maybe it does - but I've lost interest.
Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.
Excellent narration and very compelling story. I would stay in the car another 10 minutes to continue to listen. I love this author. His characters are very rich and interesting. I cared about them in the first 10 minutes.
We enjoyed this book! It is a bit long and wordy but the story and characters are well written and the narrator keeps you interested.
I am a huge fan of Helprin's Freddy and Fredericka- but this book is just too long and confusing. It seems like the author cobbled together 1000 & 1 old short stories from before he had found his comedic voice and stitched them together into a saga a-la Scheherezade. I would have hoped more for Don Quixote from Helprin. I couldn't finish.
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