But Stella's knowledge of Edgar's crime is no hindrance to the volcanic attraction that ensues - a passion that will consume Stella's sanity and destroy her and the lives of those around her.
©1999 Patrick McGrath; (P)2008 BBC Audio
"The book is hypnotizing, with its own strange but darkly convincing pace and style; and the way in which nature and climate are woven into the fabric of the bizarre couple's strange love is masterly." (Publishers Weekly)
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I just finished listening to Asylum yesterday and have to share that I'm so glad I decided to purchase it. I really had no idea if I'd like it, as I am usually not drawn to a book such as this but I thought I'd give it a try. First of all...I must say that I could listen to this narrator, Sir Ian MacKellen, read the phone book from beginning to end! His voice is simply beautiful and the expression he uses...I can still hear certain sentences end in a whisper almost...just an amazing voice and ability to tell the story! I couldn't wait to start listening again. I only wish I could find more books narrated by this man~
I really enjoyed the story as well. I still am not positive about the ending...I need to listen to the last chapter again, as there is something I think I'm missing. Oh I think I'll just listen to the whole book once more... I would purchase any book written by Patrick McGrath after having listened to this novel....especially if it was narrated by Ian McKellen! I am also unable to find any other books written by this author on the Audible site. Hopefully in the near future they will share some more of his books with us. It's money well spent!
The beautiful Stella falls passionately in love with Edgar while he is a patient in a mental hospital. The plot that ensues is both frightening and fascinating. The intimacy with which McGrath portrays Stella, her psychological environment, and the surroundings in which she travails is nothing short of brilliant. With each page the reader is drawn into Stella's world with amazing accuracy. Her lover, Edgar Stark, is aptly named because the deeper Stella walks into his world, the more stark her world becomes. Stella's husband, Max, is not the noble man he believes himself to be, yet the reader keeps hoping he will become that. Max is as psychologically damaged as Edgar, but Max's actions are seen as more civilized since they are so well covered. But Max can be perceived as far more dangerous and it could be argued that it is Max who ultimately destroys Stella. Peter, the pseudo-hero is so full of hubris that he realizes too late Stella's true condition and becomes the last victim of Stella's tragic affair. From beginning to end we watch Stella walk the knife edge of sanity until, in the end, she chooses to fall. The book stays with you long after the last word is uttered. It is read well. I highly recommend the novel.
This story is excellently written and very intriguing. I agree with Maureens review completely. I was taken with the story from the beginning and after listening once, I had to listen to it again. I enjoyed it more the second time!
The narrator is perfect for the story line. His voice uses just the right amount of inflection in all situations. This book should be made into a movie. The characters become real and as you listen, you can see them and you feel like you know them. I can see Benicio Del Toro as Edgar and Nicole Kidman as Stella! Add Hugh Grant as Max and you would have the beginning of a very intriguing cast ready to bring to life an amazing story of love, selfishness, insanity and misery!
I was particularly captivated by the way the author described how Stella felt when she was with her lover. He really understands the various emotions a woman goes through when in love with a not so savory but magnetic man.
I can not wait until his next book is written! I recommend this book to all who enjoy a good love story with tragic running through the theme.
The multiple layers of obsession and madness in Asylum are masterfully crafted right through its final sentence. Ian McKellen's narration is flawless, perfectly nuanced. I have well over two hundred books in my library, and I'd put Asylum high in the top five.
When a complex book is read by an excellent narrator, the experience is riveting. All the characters are drawn exquisitely, but it is the voice of Peter, the psychiatrist who records the events that we hear -- and until well into the story seems the voice of reason and sanity. Ian McKellen gets the nuances exactly right. Superb, understated writing, superb narration.
From the very beginning, this story pulls you in. You want one thing and one thing only: to know what happens. The narration style is unique: it's first-person, but for a great deal of the story, the narrator is only an observer/bystander. At first it seems like it's going to be necessarily detached, and impossible to get into the characters' heads, but you end up primarily identifying with the narrator. He is, after all, the one who thinks rationally and seems to tell the story without bias. You're watching from the outside, yes, but it feels more like sitting down with the narrator and listening to him tell the story. You're an old friend of his, and he's telling you about this intense experience for him.
Like others, I found myself not really liking the main character. Unlike others, that is exactly what I did like about Asylum. I do not believe the author wanted the reader/listener to like Stella. The story is told from a clinical viewpoint, that is, the voice of the Psychiatrist and not of the patient. I came away feeling as if I needed to listen again with Peter as the focus... which is exactly what I intend to do.
The best thing about Asylum was its narrator, Ian McKellen. His character is ingenious and subtly sly by turns, and goes from being an observer to a player with a silky ease that's quite disturbing.
I would have edited out some of the information that's nonessential to the plot. There are several scenes in the book that seem more like filler than anything that actually moves the plot forward in any sort of meaningful way.
McKellen's is the voice of the book - he's not only the narrator, but also a primary character as the action unfolds. His voice lures you into believing that he's simply telling the story of two ill-fated lovers and the fallout from their affair, not that he is intimately involved with all of the characters involved. His seemingly innocent retelling of their tale is made worse when you realize he had a subtle hand in the characters' actions and their ultimate downfall. His hands-off and seemingly benign non-intervention is made more sinister when you realize he could very well have prevented much of the tragedy that takes place as the narrative moves toward its conclusion.
I think it was the dawning realization that the narrator had a direct role in the outcome that really got to me. It was a slow realization, and was revealed over time through related conversations and casual asides - not presented as a big "ta da!" It made the horrible events more horrible because so many of them could have been prevented with a little intervention on the part of the narrator. Instead, he stood back and with a cold eye watched the ruin of several lives running its course, rather than intervening. His own reasons were never directly revealed, although they were fairly obvious by the book's end.
It's a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. That said, while we were on vacation together, my sister kept asking me what was going on while I was listening, and when I'd tell her, she'd say it seemed exceptionally slow and unexciting. It wasn't what I'd call an "exciting" book, exactly, but more a close examination of several lives ruined by misplaced ideals and fictional notions of love imposed over a reality that matches neither. If you're looking for a high-octane/fast-action type of novel, this probably isn't for you. If you're willing to enjoy a carefully crafted study of obsession, madness, and coldly calculated inaction and ambition, then you'll probably enjoy it quite a bit.
I think it was the predictability that was so unpredictable.You know it will happen, but when it does it is almost a surprise.
The depth that it takes the depravity of mental illness to.
No spoiler....but the day at the pond.
I was able to find a place to pause, but it would have just as easily been a one sitting read.
As I kept listening to this book, all I could think of, about 1/2 the way through, is this is sooo tedious a listen. I can't really explain it better than that but it dragged on way too long and the main character in the book, a psychiatrist, just wasn't a believable character. I would not recommend this book.
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