©2009 A. S. Byatt; (P)2009 WF Howes Ltd
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"Regret to say..."
I am a fan of AS Byatt, but this was disappointing. I found this novel poorly organised and confusing in the long sections on political history (jumping about chronologically) and there were too many characters to follow, which resulted (I felt) in them being dealt with fairly superficially.
But more than that, what spoiled this for me was the narration. Very poorly read (or just not edited and corrected well), with mispronunciations and mis-emphasised sentences which really jarred. I have listened to a lot of audiobooks and this is the first which was spoiled for me by the narrator.
"A war of ideas, and a war that consumed the world"
The canvas of this book is so large that it drowns the characters in history and information about every possible political and social movement at the end of nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. A link is made with some of the characters through the writing of a children's book with stories started by the children but it is too disjointed to create a cohesion of the entire story.
The children's tales are interesting and well conceived but no important enough to the writer; they get consumed in this fascinating period of history and the constant effort to present every subject at the same level of importance, ending with none of them having the time to grow or be explored enough.
" The book has so many fictional and historical characters that Byatt had to create a spreadsheet in Excel to keep track of them all.”
A breathtaking work that lost oxygen in the flame of its passions and never got to the heights it wanted to achieve. But it is still a good read with moments of beauty and wonder, and some very sad descriptions of the first world war and the suffering women endured trying to get the right to vote and the right to education; that alone redeems and makes this book a good read.
The reader had a herculean task and she delivered with passion and understanding.
Persevered with this for about 3 hours in the hope that a story would present itself, it didn't and remained very bored, too many characters and little going on, I gave up listening as there was nothing to keep me even slightly interested. Will not go back and try and listen again unless I am stuck somewhere for a very long time with nothing else to do, and nothing else available. Would rather play tiddly winks, highly recommended for insomniacs, it will send you to sleep.
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