Sam and Henny Pollit have too many children, too little money, and too much loathing for one another. As Sam uses the children's adoration to feed his own voracious ego, Henny watches in bleak despair, knowing the bitter reality that lies just below his mad visions. A chilling novel of family life, this work is acknowledged as a contemporary classic.
©1996 Christina Stead (P)1997 Blackstone Audiobooks
"This crazy, gorgeous family novel is one of the great literary achievements of the twentieth century. I carry it in my head the way I carry childhood memories; the scenes are of such precise horror and comedy that I feel I didn't read the book so much as live it." (Jonathan Franzen)
"One of the best novels of this [the 20th] century." (Walter Clemons, Newsweek)
"This minute examination of the life of a lethally dysfunctional family is told in a gush of extravagant language such is not heard in the age of television. All but the youngest characters hold forth like orators in an Irish pub. It's the sort of thing one either loves or hates. Those who love it will find this recording by C.M. Herbert completely satisfactory. She takes the sprawling twenty-one-hour text in stride, giving every word its proper attention and showing great sensitivity to the emotional content (usually high) of every line of dialogue. She doesn't vary the sound of her voice greatly but, nonetheless, gives each character a distinctive tone." (AudioFile)
I'd listen to this book when my lover wasn't home because I didn't want him to get depressed. I like the book because I'm interested in the conflicts that happen when people pretend to be optimistic. It's really dark and claustrophobic. The father is a horrible, twisted monster of a man who prides himself on being good. It's hard to listen to the derisive nicknames and insults cloaked as baby-talk that he spews. It's a book about denial and shame. I thought it was amazing, but I like this kind of book.
Manipulative, misguided and misplaced were words that kept recurring to me through this read. Manipulative describes the adult chatacters, barely an ounce of humanity between them. Misguided again applies to the adult characters who were flawed in just about every way possible. I also thought the author was misguided in setting the book in the USA. As an Australian reading this, and knowing that the Author was also Australian, though had lived long periods out of Australia, this book would have worked so much better if it had had an Australian setting.
Trying narration. The flat, almost monotone narration did nothing to enhance a read I found to be trying at the best of times.
Literary, Creative, Potboiler!
There is a resemblance to Dickens, Austen Eliot, Thackeray, and Chekhov. It is so ambitious in scope. It examines flawed parents, bad marriages, an unintentionally bad man and a creative, highly intelligent young girl. Sometimes, a bit of the writing can make the listener/reader feel impatient but quite an interesting story especially because of its insightful and vivid characterizations. The plot has some creative sideshows including invented and inventive language. Actually the use of language is outstanding! The story has a dramatic arc especially regarding the plight of women mid-century. It is poignant. My one cavil has to do with the nearly complete avoidance of World War II; it seems to place the beginning before World War II and after. But frankly that historic war is not relevant to this novel. There are several themes at play in the novel: adolescent girl, foolish and feckless fathers, bad marriages, the impact of poverty, verbal abuse, housing, and travel, anthropology and nature, art and poetry to cite several.
The voice was expressive, held my interest, and did not try to call attention to itself without cause!
It was a cautionary tale and the protagonist is a young girl and particularly about children who are subject to whims and bad parenting. It also shows love of family and love gone awry. Yes, there were many times throughout causing me to chuckle and others which caused me to feel for the suffering of the protagonist.
Well worth the experience. One of the better novels I've ever read.
I listened for an hour or so. Nothing happened, and there was no indication that anything would happen. And I didn't care. It sounds like 120 year old book for kids.
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