©2003 Rose Tremain; (P)2003 BBC Audiobooks Ltd.
"The sense of period is forcefully conveyed....Her new level of ambition makes it perhaps the author's most important book yet." (Amazon.co.uk)
This is a beautifully-written and very engaging novel, very well-read by Ms Bron. The characters, particularly Harriet, are rounded and believable and the story builds well from the nature of the people and their relationships with one another. The only irritating flaw was the over-dramatised psychic connection between the young boy, Edwin, and his Maori nurse, Pare. This relationship and its consequences were the only part of the story which felt over-written, despite the length and sweep of the narrative. I didn't want the book to end.
First let me say I am a huge fan of Rose Tremain and was therefore excited about downloading and listening to this book. However, out of the 50+ audio books I’ve heard this is the first book I ever felt so disappointed about that I felt the need to write a review.
The first problem is the narrator, Eleanor Bron, and the production crew. I normally have no problem understanding even the heaviest English accent yet I found myself rewinding the book many times to try to understand what Ms. Bron had said. She sounds as if she is talking with a mouth full of marbles. On top of that there are volume changes between sentences where you can tell that she stopped and restarted later and even times where you can hear production cues that the listener is not supposed to hear.
As for the content of the book itself; the first two thirds of the book is tedium. I kept listening and plodding along because I thought “This is THE Rose Tremain, it’s going to get better”. It wasn’t until the last third of the book that anything substantial happened and even then it was a disappointment. Almost all of the main characters are very unlikable and delusional. The few likable/interesting characters are side characters whose stories are either not followed thru or meet tragic ends.
All in all this entire book was a major disappointment
I give Eleanor Bron 4 stars but the book no more than 2. Uninteresting characters, who are mostly unpleasant to boot; somewhere around the middle a serious strain of the spiritual creeps in, primarily but not entirely in the relation of a child to a Maori. I found this, too, wearingly tedious.
"Gold is not the colour - discuss"
The Colour: narrative on the human condition, the pursuit of happiness or running away from it all? You choose. For me it's all three rearing their somewhat dark heads through the lead character - Joseph Blackstone. The colour of the narrative, and the exceptional delivery and characterisation by the narrator, is what sets this audiobook apart - the reason I've given it 4 stars. However, I was left sad and pensive without really knowing why. Maybe I should join a book club and analyse it!
I really enjoy reading or listening to Rose Tremain's novels- there's a real depth to the characters (whether you like them or not) which makes them seem very 3 dimensional and believable. The narration was beautifully done - serene and yet passionate when it counts. I've never read about gold panning before or very much set in New Zealand so both elements made it an absorbing read/listen.
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