In this rollicking novel, 96-year-old ornithologist Luka Levadski foregoes treatment for lung cancer and moves from Ukraine to Vienna to make a grand exit in a luxury suite at the Hotel Imperial. He reflects on his past while indulging in Viennese cakes and savoring music in a gilded concert hall. Levadski was born in 1914, the same year that Martha - the last of the now-extinct passenger pigeons - died. Levadski himself has an acute sense of being the last of a species. He may have devoted much of his existence to studying birds, but now he befriends a hotel butler and another elderly guest, who also doesn't have much time left, to share in the lively escapades of his final days.
This gloriously written tale, in which Levadski feels "his heart pounding at the portals of his brain", mixes piquant wit with lofty musings about life, friendship, aging, and death.
©2014 Marjana Gaponenko (P)2015 ListenUp Production, LLC
"A sweet, sad, sunny meditation on birds and music and the gentle approach of death." (John Rockwell, former New York Times arts critic and editor and founding director of Lincoln Center Festival)
"A book like a fantastic party, as unshakeable as a child's faith... Astonishes to the very end." (Neue Zürcher Zeitung)
"With layers of inventive language, vividly drawn characters, history, music, birds, love, loneliness, and wisdom, this is a brilliant book, rich and satisfying as a Viennese torte." (Sy Montgomery, author of Birdology)
I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from this novel, and now that I'm done, I'm still not sure exactly what I thought of it. Can't say as I liked it exactly, although Luka was a pretty cool guy, but the story did hold my interest, and the writing (and, presumably, translation) was of a high standard. Not sure if I would've been as engaged by the print book, but the audio narration was well done (including the occasional bird chirps!) that it merits an extra star overall. Slow start was the weakest feature for me, but as I'm not great with multi-generational sagas and flashbacks, keeping the action largely in the present helped a lot.
It makes me happy to wake up everyday and look forward to listening. Many times I listen while doing artwork. I find it very relaxing.
WHO IS MARTHA? is a magical work of literature written by MARJANA GAPONENKO who will definitely be on my author to watch list from now on. I hope to hear more of her work. This audiobook was a fantastic treat for the ears and I’ll listen to this one again for wonderful pearls of wisdom within its audio corridors. I feel honored as well as pleased to have had the opportunity to listen to this one. An audiobook not to be missed by contemporary fiction lovers as well as any book lover for its exceptional quality and importance. The way this story contrasted the life of one man with that of birds was fabulous.
Levadski, an aged ornithologist learns he has lung cancer and spends some time weighing the gravity of his situation. He’s 96 years old and reflects upon his life which has been rich and colorful then decides to live out his final days at the Hotel Imperial in Vienna. He sees anthropomorphic characteristics between people and birds as the meaning of life begins to reveal its mysteries to him. While reflecting back on his life, he has flashes of clarity through the fog of his declining health. Things begin making sense to him and he begins having ‘aha’ moments. He becomes friends with Habib, the hotel butler who helps him with his baths as well as the concierge and another elderly gentleman he meets named Mr. Witzturn whom he also chats with.
As I listened to this audiobook, I began to wonder if Levadski had maybe become slightly senile in his age and as his condition worsened perhaps he was hallucinating about being at the hotel in Vienna. Throughout his process of dying, he began to see the many truths of his lifetime and life overall. This book will make a person think. As for Martha, I feel that she influenced his entire life. I especially loved where he said that birds give up their entire souls to the world when they sing. It almost seemed like a metaphor of himself when I think about him making bird calls. Another place in the book I thought was interesting was when they were talking about different alcoholic beverages and likened them to some of life’s quandaries and he said he wanted a spirit cocktail. This audiobook was a true gem.
ALLAN ROBERTSON epitomized Luka Levadski. His narration was exceptionally amazing. He had perfect voice inflections and voice control. I thought his accents and bird calls were extremely good and he made this book an absolute joy to listen to. Congratulations on a job very well done. This was impressive work. This has become one of my favorite audiobooks thus far.
Audiobook gifted in exchange for review.
Who is Martha? by Marjana Gaponenko's and translated from German by Arabella Spencer is a delightful introspection of one's life when facing the end of it. [Martha was the last passenger pigeon to die in captivity and she died in the same year that our "hero" was born].
The story focuses on Luca Levadski, who is a 96-year-old Professor of Ornithology who has terminal cancer. Soon after his diagnosis Luca decides to travel to Vienna (a place of his youth) where he decides to live out the remaining days of his life in a posh hotel. It is here that he finally begins to appreciate life and simply enjoy the small pleasures in life. Besides Luca, one other character stands out - the hotel butler who befriends Luca and who is wise well above his station in life.
I listened to the Audible version of this book, which is narrated By Allan Robertson. Robertson was amazing in the varying voices he portrayed. As can be expected from an ornithologist, Luca describes many people he meets by their characteristics that resemble varying bird species. Robertson's voices take on these same characteristics, from clicking, speaking quickly or musically. I felt like I was listening to Jim Dale! I received this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
I am at that half a century mark in years. I enjoy audiobooks,cats,rats and most days my family,not necessarily in that order!lol
I really have no clue what to say about this novel.It just seemed a bunch of words put together and spoken nicely by Allan Robertson.I could make nothing of a plot."I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via AudiobookBlast or MalarHouse dot com"
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