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Beatrice and Virgil: A Novel | [Yann Martel]

Beatrice and Virgil: A Novel

When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey named Beatrice and Virgil and the epic journey they undertake together.
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Publisher's Summary

Fate takes many forms.

When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey named Beatrice and Virgil and the epic journey they undertake together.

With all the spirit and originality that made Life of Pi so beloved, this brilliant new novel takes the reader on a haunting odyssey. On the way, Martel asks profound questions about life and art, truth and deception, responsibility and complicity.

©2010 Yann Martel (P)2010 Random House

What the Critics Say

"[A] fable-type story with iceberg-deep dimensions reaching far below the surface of its general premise." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.1 (220 )
5 star
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3.3 (83 )
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Story
3.8 (80 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    S. Connors 04-16-10
    S. Connors 04-16-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    51
    ratings
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    1019
    4
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    "Excellent writing and reading, but..."

    This is the saddest book I have ever read! It struck my soul to its core. Because I read for pleasure as well as education I cannot recommend this book to anyone who does not want to be affected on such a level, however the writing and reading is undeniably excellent! It uncovers the horrors of the holocaust in a new and, at first, unrecognizable way. Then hits you with slow creeping revelations.

    39 of 40 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Penelope Wisner 07-23-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    56
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    4
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    "Love and Death Await: Wake Up!"

    The negative listener reviews nearly convinced me not to listen. But my sister had read the book and was so affected that she called needing someone to talk to about it. Having been prepared for something awful to happen, I could let the book happen, to be carried along by the narrator whose voice and tone I liked very much. The book is deeply affecting and haunting--the contrast between the palpable love the narrator conveys in the voices of Beatrice and Virgil and the horror of the story increase its effect. I cannot say I completely understand the ending of the book; but I remember having the same feeling at the end of Life of Pi. The author almost lulls you into a feeling of safety and then springs a trap. There is no escape. Suddenly life is revealed for what it really is. You cannot pretend or sleep through it. To survive, you have to wake up. And even this may not be enough. But that is what is most true. It is, I think, the author's intention not to make things easy. And it is the nature of parables to reveal their meanings only over time. So I encourage anyone interested in Yann Martel's work to take a listen. Like the hero of the story, I miss Beatrice and Virgil. You may, too.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lawrence Suffield, CT, USA 04-28-10
    Lawrence Suffield, CT, USA 04-28-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    "I don't do reviews"

    If you expect life of pi 2 forget it.If you expect to get uplifted and smile at a great end, forget it.
    If you want to search your soul as a human being
    then read it. Good luck and thanks to the author.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    04-30-10
    04-30-10 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
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    7
    5
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    "Great auditory reading"

    Mark Bramhall did an excellent job reading the book. He is now one of my three favorite readers, the other two being Joe Barrett and Campbell Scott.
    The story was interesting a kept me involved. Not as good as PI, but still quality writing. It will definately appeal to the morbid soul.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Champaign, IL, United States 05-01-10
    Robert Champaign, IL, United States 05-01-10 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
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    19
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    "Make an informed decision to read this"

    Not a beach read, but if you need to be reminded of the horrors (word used intentionally as those who have read will recognize) of the holocaust in a novel (my pun) way, then this might be for you.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 08-23-10
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 08-23-10 Member Since 2010

    SamanthaG

    HELPFUL VOTES
    118
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    82
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    "Torture"

    Reading this book, with the exception of some really interesting passages like the description of the pear, was torture. The graphic depiction of the torture of animals, metaphoric though it was, was just impossible for me to listen to once I saw where it was going. For those of us like me who read and enjoyed the quirky Life of Pi, and based on the somewhat whimsical nature of this book's cover art, this story unfolded in an unexpected and devastating fashion. I don't like putting the sort of images that Mr. Martel created into my head, where they will remain. I felt blindsided.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 03-01-14
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 03-01-14 Member Since 2005

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

    HELPFUL VOTES
    701
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    "Disappointing and Borderline Offensive"

    I have a policy on book reviews that I write. If I really dislike a book, I ponder why for a couple days before writing the review. Sometimes the dislike comes from an author's ability to evoke anger or disgust and that deserves high marks in spite of my 'feelings'. This book is disturbing but for the wrong reasons.

    I liked PI. I wanted to like this book.

    By the end I was disgusted by the shameless use of one history's great atrocities to sell a book. It doesn't work. The concept doesn't work. The story telling doesn't work. The manipulation of our feelings doesn't work in spite of killing off the family dog. The story's ending is contrived.

    The only redeeming part of the book are the games at the end. They are, in the context of the holocaust, poignant.

    The remaining 99.9% of the book falls under the emperor's new clothes category. If a reader thinks they see some great depth in this book, it's probably a result of wanting it to be there. I did. It wasn't. Skip it.

    They say an author's first book comes from direct experience. An author might squeak through a second book with what she has left. The third book is the separator. That hopefully is not the case but it sure looks that way from here.



    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anastasia Lester Peachtree City, GA United States 11-06-12
    Anastasia Lester Peachtree City, GA United States 11-06-12 Member Since 2012

    Reading Mom

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "A Study in Human Psychology"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book to people who are interested in the study of human behavior. There are instances where the book is very dark and disturbing because the author goes to great lengths to describe torturous acts in finite detail. For that reason, I would caution readers who are looking for a light, "beach" book to stay away from this one.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    The author did an excellent job of weaving all of the characters into one story with an ending that is very unexpected. There were subtle hints throughout the tale that were revealed as much more important details once the end comes into view. Although I would have added one other element to the summarizing chapter, the author chose an excellent ending!


    What does Mark Bramhall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I really enjoy Mr. Bramhall's voice interpretations of the characters. With each different inflection, he captures an essence of a person in the form of the character so that the reader can visualize him/her. It was not difficult to determine in which voice Mr. Bramhall was speaking.


    If you could rename Beatrice and Virgil, what would you call it?

    Wow. I wouldn't begin to think that my literary skills are near Yann Martel's. But to answer the question, I might venture to title the book "Measure of a Man" (not to be confused with Martin Luther King, Jr. or Sidney Poitier's work). It seems to me that the taxidermist was taking stock of his entire life and trying to put it into words. A comparison, if you will, so as to "measure" the things in his past to those of the prince in the story that was referenced early on; perhaps he was seeking his own redemption through the play.


    Any additional comments?

    This story is excellent and I enjoyed 85 - 90% of the content. I really could have done without some of the more gruesome descriptions as I have a tender heart for people and animals. However, I also understand that none of us will never know the full extent of the atrocities that took place during the horrific historical event that is the back story for this literary work. In light of that, I am sure that what was described is a drop in the bucket to what actually happened.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michele United States 01-01-12
    michele United States 01-01-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    14
    2
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    "Unusual"
    If you could sum up Beatrice and Virgil in three words, what would they be?

    Glad I listened.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Virgil


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I can't answer this.


    If you could take any character from Beatrice and Virgil out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    The Taxidermist. Definetely. Maybe Henry, to another restaurant.


    Any additional comments?

    Virgil and Beatrice helped me understand. I hope it made me better.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Allyn Rocklin, CA United States 04-22-10
    Michael Allyn Rocklin, CA United States 04-22-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    22
    8
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    0
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    "IF YOU LOVE PI - DON'T LISTEN"

    I had high expectations for this book. I am a big fan of Life of Pi. This book is a HUGE disappointment! It is a dark, depressing, sick book with no redeeming qualities. I kept listening, hoping it would get better. It never did.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
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