A superbly written novel offering an intriguing interpretation of one of the world's greatest aviators, the glamorous and mysterious Jean Batten. Jean Batten became an international icon in the 1930s. A brave, beautiful woman, she made a number of heroic solo flights across the world. The newspapers couldn't get enough of her, yet she suddenly slipped out of view, disappearing to the Caribbean with her mother and dying in obscurity in Majorca, buried in a pauper's grave.
For a novel based on a true story of a pioneering woman pilot it does not touch enough on the experience of flying except for naming planes and pilots living at that time. It spends more time describing the mother/daughter relationship as well romantic ones but that could have been depicted in any other novel. The cover illustration adds to the misleading direction of the novel.
Not long after her parents' separation, heralded by an awkward scene involving a wet Daily Telegraph and a pan of cold eggs, nine-year-old Lizzie Vogel, her sister and little brother and their now-divorcée mother are packed off to a small, slightly hostile village in the English countryside. Their mother is all alone, only 31 years of age, with three young children and a Labrador. It is no wonder, when you put it like that, that she becomes a menace and a drunk. And a playwright.
This story attempts to combine the viewpoint of three charming, chipper English village children living with an alcoholic, whoring mother, a depressed divorcee, along with the description of their dire circumstance. We are not amused. It is not possible to believe that children would accept their mother's behavior so matter of factly as described in this story, much less go about trying to remedy the situation with the humor and lightness they exhibit. Comedy and tragedy can co-exist in literature perhaps, but not in this case.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Edward Darby has everything a man could hope for: meaningful work, a loving wife, and a beloved daughter. With a rising career as a partner at an esteemed gallery, he strives not to let ambition, money, power, and his dark past corrode the sanctuary of his domestic and private life. Influenced by his father, a brilliant Romantics scholar, Edward has always been more of a purist than an opportunist. But when a celebrated artist controlled by her insecurities betrays him, he finds himself unmoored.
A curiously elusive portrayal of a man who seemingly feels deeply about his life and the people in it, according to the words spoken. Does he, or does he not? The narrator's audio voice does not help with its overall flatness -- or is it the fault of the material the reader was given? There is also the the odd juxtaposition of he protagonist's professed love of past traditional art greats with the avant-garde art he promotes during his day job. An opportunity to inject some satire was missed here; if it was meant to be subtle, O.K., but his reaction could have been explored more clearly. All in all: disappointing.
Youthful, ambitious Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, the wealthy merchant and bookseller Johann Fust, summons him home to corruption- riddled, feud-plagued Mainz to meet "a most amazing man." Johann Gutenberg, a driven and caustic inventor, has devised a revolutionary - and, to some, blasphemous - method of bookmaking: a machine he calls a printing press.
The writing and performance splendidly brings to life the people and times that surrounded the creation of Gutenberg's printing press innovations. The descriptions of the physical and artistic effort involved in the first mass printing of the bible were particularly interesting for me. Not so much details of the intricacies of the political/religious turmoil of the times, although of course those conditions influenced nearly all of the behaviors of the central characters, outside of their personalities, while also providing suspense that drives the "plot" for this book. A thank you goes to the author for providing an Afterword in which the known true facts of his story are furnished.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
August 30, 1975: The day 15-year-old Nola Kellergan is glimpsed fleeing through the woods before she disappears; the day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence. Thirty-three years later, Marcus Goldman, a successful young novelist, visits Somerset to see his mentor, Harry Quebert, one of America’s most respected writers, and to find a cure for his writer’s block as his publisher's deadline looms.
The truth about "The Truth . . ." is that the reading of it was an extreme disappointment, especially right after listening to the beautifully written A Spy Among Friends. The Truth, etc., sounds as though it was written by a high schooler for a middle schooler's reading level (apologies to all literate high schoolers and middle schoolers out there). It turned an interesting plot and OK characters into an excruciatingly long display of dreck.
Cravens' narration was as competent as could have been expected, given the material he had to work with. Unfortunately, his youthful voice only added to the juvenile quality of the book. His voice could be used to better advantage narrating well written young adult novels.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain's counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War - while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby's best friend and fellow officer in MI6.
Thoroughly researched bringing in a multitude of viewpoints about the Kim Philby affair. Beautifully written with much delightful English wit and humor tossed in the telling, or quoted from the participants in this incredible (true) yarn.
One confusing annoyance, created by Audible.com describing the contents of the audiobook: they list the narrator as John LeCarre. It is narrated (elegantly) by John Lee. LeCarre provides a postscript but to my ears it sounds like John Lee reading it.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong.
Yes, it is too wordy for the number of events covered in the life of Anne Morrow Lindberg depicted here but, as was said in the author's notes about her intent, Benjamin's main goal was to shed light on what the emotions of Anne may have been as she reacted to a remarkable life married to a hero. Some themes are repeated over and over (with different, well written words to be sure).
As one who grew up during the early hero worship phase of their lives, I was familiar with the outlines of their story. However, I did not fully appreciate what their lives must have been really like. What Benjamin does is to pull off a masterful job of providing the reader/listener a thorough appreciation of what Anne must have felt felt as she went through the years as the wife of the flawed aviator-hero.
Spoiler Alert: I heard only passing references to Lindberg's "other families" now and then. They only are touched upon slightly in this book. Sequel, please. Another book would be interesting, illuminating the lives of the other families he had, with chapters about the children of Anne and Charles with their reaction to learning about their extended family.
The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot - searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.
If you could sum up Beautiful Ruins in three words, what would they be?
Romantic, fanciful and fun
What did you like best about this story?
Well drawn characters, many unique.
Which scene was your favorite?
The reaction of the assistant producer as she listened to wanna-be story lines pitched.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
The almost lost connection between the would be actress, aging and dying, and her profligate son.
Any additional comments?
The story loses credibility with the introduction of real life characters such as Richard Burton. It could have been just as strong a tale without him.
A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past. The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it's been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude.
If you could sum up The Language of Flowers in three words, what would they be?
Behaving badly understandable.
Fairy tale ending not quite believable.
What other book might you compare The Language of Flowers to and why?
None that I have "read."
Have you listened to any of Tara Sands’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
If you could take any character from The Language of Flowers out to dinner, who would it be and why?
The person who planned to adopt the protagonist, I believe her name was Elizabeth.
Any additional comments?
Well written and great reader.