©2004 George Hagen; (P)2004 Books on Tape
"A family story on speed, with a jolt of black comedy that makes it a close relative to that greatest of all American family stories, The Simpsons." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A funny, touching novel about the meaning of family." (Publishers Weekly)
"Mr. Hagen has shaped an affectionate family portrait in which the characters come vividly to life, no matter how adrift they may be." (The New York Times)
This was one of the most enjoyable novels I have read in a while. I can't exactly say why I enjoyed this book so immensely. Perhaps, the story of this family that picks up and moves to different parts of the world every few years strikes a chord for how we all sometimes experience the feeling of being an outsider. Who but an outsider can appreciate the dysfunctionality that everyone else inside a culture takes for granted? Who but an outsider can feel the loss of not belonging? This is a quick-paced, very entertaining book. While it has its share of tragic moments, it is also full of "laugh out loud" humor, intelligent asides, and dialogue that rings true. The characters of all ages - from the young children to the grandmother - vividly drawn. The narrator did an excellent job. He not only gave each character a voice, but changed accents (South African, British, American) adroitly.
I am a voracious reader with fairly eclectic taste. I like both fiction and non-fiction, biography, history and current events. I like well written mysteries and suspense and I love 19th and 20th century classical literature as well as modern fiction. My favorite author is Philip Roth but I also love Trollope, Hardy, Jonathan Franzen, Jane Austen and Edith Wharton. My favorite biographer is Robert Caro.
I tremendously enjoyed this audiobook and was constantly thinking of how very John Irving-like the story seemed....it's a bit weird, with tragic moments presented in a very unsentimental way. Seems contemporary and realistic even in its portrayal of the past, very appealing, drew me in immediately. The reader does a good job and I would be very eager to read another book by this author or to hear this narrator again.
I read this book in hardcover and then listened to it again. It was even better the second time around. George Hagen has an engaging style and kept my interest from start to finish. I hope that he will write more in the future.
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