©1995 Kate Atkinson; (P)1998 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
"An astounding book....Without doubt one of the finest novels I have read for years." (The Times)
"Enchanting. It hops with sprightly omniscience from past to future and back again." (The Sunday Times)
"Little short of a masterpiece....Fizzing with wit and energy, Kate Atkinson's hilarious novel made me laugh and cry." (Daily Mail)
The critics' comments are spot on. I recommend this book frequently. Fresh British voice, compelling story with a substantial dash of humor. There's a catch in this book too. Will you pick up on it?
This won the Whitbread prize (for the most enjoyable read of the year) as did Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.
This one will stay with you. Anyone raised in a middle class-ish nuclear family of 2.5 children in the 70's will relate to this story. Have you ever thought that your family was especialy strange and dis-functional? Ever wonder why they were that way? The amazing thing is, with so many strange goings on and un-emotionaly healthy situations, the narrator, Ruby Lennox, seems to make the best of it and just keeps moving on. Ultimately a very inspiring tale of overcoming one's parents unintended shortcomings. Oh yeah - it's wickedly funny too!
You won't find another book quite like this oddly absorbing tale, which is masterfully written and beautifullly read, yet ultimately frustrating. I loved its richly textured historical flashbacks and distinctive voice. But in the end I grew weary of the author's relentless abandonment of one character after another in her quest to address the origins of familial dysfunction. It's difficult to care about a character, no matter how well-drawn, if again and again he/she is abandoned, killed off, and/or trivialized by the author. Having said this, I'd buy the book again for the simple joy of listening to the book's talented reader.
I loved the opening chapter - Kate Atkinson choosing to open her very first novel with the words "I Exist!"
The plot is original and amusing, not perfect or extremely deep - but provides touching perspectives of human nature.
It did make me laugh several times, though i wouldn't describe it as a comic book, at least the comic parts are not the main features of the novel.
I think it's the perfect audiobook to be chosen as a very first listening experience.
'we are the sum total of all our ancestors' so the saying goes, and this is really what this portrait of family is all about. The story of several generations and branches of a family as they evolve through time, the things that they take with them from generation to generation, patterns, emotions, even smiles and gestures, and the things that they lose. The history that is behind the macro accounts provided by books and museums. As the characters say "the past is something you leave behind" "no the past is something you take with you" -both are true and amply illustrated by this engaging and entertaining account. I am very pleased that I downloaded this book and would particularly recommend it to anyone interested in family history and tracing their own ancestory.
I thought the narrator caught the tone of the book and the characters very well. (I have already read the book.) The one thing that detracted from a perfect performance was that she read so fast, i got a headache trying to keep up. I literally could not figure out when she took a breath.
She should do more of Kate Atkinson, just a little slower.
I can see why this book won the Whitbread Prize- I enjoyed listening to it immensely. There's an interesting twist and a lot of engrossing family history flashbacks. I did think the gemstone imagery was a bit heavy-handed, but otherwise it was great.
I enjoyed this immensely; to point where I was taking longer routes to home and work to prolong my listening time. I loved the reader. I wish audible had more of this author's books.
I'm a retired public librarian, living in a small town in Alaska.
This was one of my very favorite reads. I found myself staying in the car to hear more - not wanting to leave it... The reader was very good and really added to the story. It's the kind of book I like, lots of good character development. I've recommended it to several people.
From the first words I was captured. I love the way Kate Atkinson weaves lives together, making us see that while we are individuals, we are the sum of many other lives too - and the twists and turns of fate that result in each of our personal histories. Susan Jameson narrates this book so well, delivering Atkinson's wry humor with impeccable timing. A book to make you laugh out loud, cry quietly and reflect.
Unravel the book and it is a family saga but the complex structure with each chapter ending with a footnote from the past and the witty narration lifts it to a higher level. The central narrator Ruby has a wonderful acid wit and is a great vehicle for the exploration of family relationships and responsibilities, which is at the core of the book.
I was deeply engaged by Ruby and the story of her siblings and dreadful parents but I found that some of the ?footnotes?, which are effectively related short stories, lacked enough power in themselves and failed drive or explain the central narrative; so they just got in the way.
There is so much that is good about the book, fantastic sense of time in the 60s, sharp writing and superb narration.
I listened to this after 'Human Croquet' by they same author which I preferred. I think I would have enjoyed both books even more if I had listened to them in order.
Watch out for the passing reference to the game Human Croquet in this earlier book!
"An interesting menagerie of characters"
I initially thought I?d made the wrong choice with this book as the story didn?t really grab me at first and it took time to come to grips with the many characters. Perseverance paid off though and I became absorbed in the often touching stories spanning several generations. There?s a great mix of characters, with an emphasis on women, in particular Ruby the narrator. Men take a back seat. The footnotes took a bit of getting used to but eventually won me over as a clever and effective means of weaving in detail without getting bogged down by a structured sequential narrative. Susan Jameson?s reading brings the book to life ? especially the humour.
Every few minutes of listening to this title, I thought to myself 'so clever', as the author wove pretty, often dour themes and variations in and out of the story. Taking you throughout the majority of the twentieth century, you follow several generations of one family, via the matriarchal line, through hard times and good, through war and peace and always with a Northern warmth and humour.
The format could be confusing, told in the first person by Ruby, a young girl, and often checking back with equally long footnotes to explain what happened in history to get to that moment, however it's explained very clearly by the narrator Susan Jameson, who brings each character reality and edge, making you understand why you might love them as a sibling or parent and dislike them equally - often as it is in a family. Highly recommended
I did not warm to this book instantly - I didn't like the opening chapter one bit, but I was slowly drawn into it. Susan Jameson reads very well, and the tale opens up into something captivating. Family life is closely drawn, warts and all, and the hope that we experience as children is slowly eroded until we reach adulthood - this is shown in stark detail. Small objects play a part in this novel, and they become the thread that binds generations together. I ended up being unable to put the book down - I listened whenever I could and felt its absence it once I had finished it.
What a wonderful book, I couldn't stop listening to this story. The narration by Susan Jameson brings all the characters to life and the footnotes are an interesting way to fill in the backgrounds of Ruby's family.
This book was brilliant, unexpectantly brilliant. The characters and their complex interwoven lives were believable and fascinating with so many hidden secrets and tradgedies pushing and pulling the family in different directions. I was unable to put this book down as each chapter unfolded and i willed the right solutions to occur. I would recommend this book very highly indeed. Fantastic.
"Behind the secenes at the Museum"
Really looked forward to read this at book club but unfortunately we were all very disappointed. There were too many characters which meant having to recap on who was who. I felt the book lacked enthusiasm and oomph and did not deliver the anticipation for the following chapter. I found it easier to follow the characters while using the audible version but still had to reflect to my book. The book was filled out with nonsense and could have been half the length. Kate Atkinson has produced many great books but unfortunately this one was not. It was rated at our book club with only a 15/100 score. I would not recommend this book.
I was disappointed in this book. It was quite hard to follow as the storyline wandered through the different generations of the family. Perhaps it needs a second read through to do it justice but I am not sure that I am sufficiently interested in the characters to do so.
I've been disappointed by this one. I found the storyline very disjointed, hopping between Nell, Bunty and Ruby with a set of the most miserable characters I've come across in an audiobook. Very hard to empathise with any one character.
"The characters come alive."
Have not read this one yet, but soon will.
Going back and forth in time is difficult to do, Kate as achieved this so well
All of them, so difficult when all the characters are so well written and performed.
It made me happy having listened to such a good story.
Will certainly listen to more of Kate Atkinson.
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