Sixteen-year-old Jacques Rebière is living a humble life in rural France, studying butterflies and frogs by candlelight in his bedroom. Across the Channel, in England, the playful Thomas Midwinter, also sixteen, is enjoying a life of ease, resigned to follow his father's wishes and to pursue a career in medicine.
A fateful seaside meeting four years later sets the two young men on a profound course of friendship and discovery; they will become pioneers in the burgeoning field of psychiatry. But when a female patient at the doctors' Austrian sanatorium becomes dangerously ill, the two men's conflicting diagnoses threaten to divide them and to undermine all their professional achievements.
©2005 Sebastian Faulks; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Epic in scope, yet suffused with intimate emotions, Sebastian Faulks's seventh novel is one of those rare works of fiction that satisfies on every level." (Chicago Tribune)
"Complex and engrossing....A leisurely, enjoyable read....always credible and humane." (Rocky Mountain News)
Narrator ruined it.
Human Traces is beautifully written, and reminds me of such explorations of the human condition as Ian McEwan's ATONEMENT, or other novels set in this period, such as THE GOOD SOLDIER. I love a long book that deeply explores the characters' lives. So if you like a fast read, go elsewhere.
My issue with this book is the narrator, who performed the lead characters with aplomb, but nearly made me turn the book off with his interpretation of minor characters. You wouldn't think minor characters would compel one to disregard an entire novel--but I nearly did. The narrator did this weird thing as if he were talking in the back of his throat, and very high pitched. It was exceedingly jarring, and it turned well-thought out characters into characatures. In a book that is 24 hours in length, there are many minor characters--thus many opportunities for the narrator to send my ears into fits. It's too bad because he is basically a very good reader.
No, he did not. As stated above, he did an excellent job with the lead characters, both male and female. But his interpretation of many minor characters was simply awful, with a high-pitched voice that sounded like it was coming from the back of his throat. It was painful to listen to and it's tragic, because the rest of his narration was good. This is such a worthwhile book, yet he nearly ruined it.
Buy BIRDSONG instead. And read this one in the hard copy.
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