Then Jerome, Howard's older son, falls for Victoria, the stunning daughter of the right-wing icon Monty Kipps, and the two families find themselves thrown together in a beautiful corner of America, enacting a cultural and personal war against the background of real wars that they barely register. An infidelity, a death, and a legacy set in motion a chain of events that sees all parties forced to examine the unarticulated assumptions which underpin their lives. How do you choose the work on which to spend your life? Why do you love the people you love? Do you really believe what you claim to? And what is the beautiful thing, and how far will you go to get it?
Set on both sides of the Atlantic, Zadie Smith's third novel is a brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and political, and an honest look at people's deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed.
©2005 Zadie Smith; (P)2005 Penguin Audio, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., and BBC Audiobooks America
"[Smith's] wonderful ear for dialogue, as well as her uncanny ability to inhabit characters from different walks of life, is truly extraordinary." (Bookmarks Magazine)
"A boisterous, funny, poignant, and erudite novel that should firmly establish Smith as a literary force of nature." (Booklist)
"Like Smith's smash debut, White Teeth, this work gathers narrative steam from the clash between two radically different families." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
After reading the listener's reviews, some literary reviews, and learning that On Beauty was shortlisted for the Mann Booker Prize,I chose this for my previous "listen" only to be disappointed by the plot contrivances. Zadie Smith can write beautifully and with humor, but she has no qualms about manipulating the plot so the characters go to the places she needs them to be (e.g., Jerome to England to intern with Kipps, no less; The Kipps's to Wellington; the Belseys back to England for Christmas; etc.). There are too many coincidences for me to suspend my disbelief for long. Also, what makes Howard Belsey so appealing to beautiful poet laureates and young, hot students? He is characterized as one dry, repressed academician who can't even get enough students to attend his classes or finish a book so he can achieve tenure. On a positive note, there are many other interesting characters in the book. Also, the narration is quite good.
Zadie Smith's sentence construction and diction were gorgeous. I loved the storyline and its complexities; she blended beautiful writing with modern style.
He did all the character voices so well. I enjoyed him as the main character the most, but he did all the accents perfectly.
This book surprised me because it made me laugh out loud at many different points. You don't often blend amazing writing, a good story, tragic characters and literature with comedy. Smith managed to do it, and well.
I want to read all Zadie Smith's books now. Her modern writing is unmatched in my opinion right now, and I'm pretty critical because I'm an English teacher.
This is my first Zadie Smith novel. "On Beauty" is all about real people with real lives, emotions and messes to fix or live with. This author seems to understand men and their poor judgement when it comes to pussy. Zadie Smith understands how very large women feel about their bodies and how hard they try to squelch the feelings of unattractiveness. This is a very rich novel filled with laugh-out-loud humor and deep pain.
I really enjoyed this audiobook. The narration was great, and I loved the story that was being told. As a narrative, I was drawn into the plot and characters and found that this was a 'page turner' of an audiobook. I kept playing bits of it at times that I don't normally listen as I couldn't wait to find out where the plot was going next.
Alongside that, this was also a thought provoking book. For those interested in the life of academics, and politics of race and academia across the Atlantic world, this is a great book. I highly recommend it.
Like White Teeth, I was engrossed in this story from the beginning. The narration was superb, I would like more audio books with this narrator. I highly recommend this listen.
Characters were beautifully drawn, narration was excellent. I could NOT put it down, thought about it when I wasn't listening to it and missed it when it was over. WONDERFUL!!!
I found this book wonderfully entertaining. After I read it, I read several of the reviews, and am glad I didn't read them til I was finished the book. I've never read so many negative reviews which I disagreed with so thoroughly. I found the characters to be intriguing -- flawed, yes. But aren't we all? This is a great story. It entertains and engages the reader from the very start.
The reader is absolutely fabulous. The writing style is very good. The actual novel, plot, characters, etc., are dismal. I was extremely disappointed and had to force myself to continue to the end. I'm not sure even that was worth it.
I stuck this book out hoping it would be redeemed in the later chapters, but it just kept getting worse. With the exception of Kiki, there was not a single likable character and the author writes about these pretentious characters in an equally pretentious style. None of this book rang true for me and it just felt like a dressed-up melodrama. I truly don't understand the high praise it has received.
I really enjoyed this book and was sorry when it ended, even though it was one of the longest audiobooks I'd ever heard. I didn't feel any of the story dragged, and really cared about each of her characters. Women and men were represented in a balanced, three-dimentional way. The narrator was a very good choice and gave distinct voices to each of the characters. I think the end could have been better, but that's my only criticism -- and it still gets 5 stars from me.
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