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Peter

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Admirers of the Kubrick movie are in for a suprise

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-11-17

The movie is one of my all-time favourites and I've seen it numerous times. It's a brilliant performance. The book is quite different. This Lyndon is an out-and-out scoundrel and liar, and it's an excellent example of the 'unreliable narrator' mode of fiction. Kubrick took what he wanted and abandoned the rest. Thackeray himself thought of it as something of a failure, and lost interest in it when the serial form did not find approval with readers. This shows: all the later part is very cursory. It's extremely verbose and despite the reader's best efforts (he is very good) I skipped forward a couple of times to get the plot moving again. I got to the end but it was a bit of a struggle. Compared to 'Vanity Fair' this is minor stuff.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Dirty doings at the Vatican

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-11-17

I've enjoyed nearly all of Harris's novels, especially 'Pompeii', though I found the Cicero trilogy very tedious and gave up halfway through. 'Conclave' deals in minute detail with the election of a new Pope, plus a mildly thriller type plot. As usual, Harris has done his research and provides plenty of twists and turns to his plot, though for the reader who is not a Roman Catholic, and takes little interest in the Pope or the Church's internal affairs, the reaction might well be 'Does it really matter, and why should I care?' It's hard to give any more details of the story without committing some serious spoilers, so I'll leave it at that. It did strike me that the current outrage at the sins of the Vatican, covered-up child abuse, is given a very easy ride; in fact it hardly figures at all. No, not one of my favourites. The reader is excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Going through the motions

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-01-17

What was most disappointing about Robert B. Parker’s story?

This one dates to the end of Parker's career and I got the impression that he was getting very tired.

What does Joe Mantegna bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Mantegna is really excellent as Spenser - I've heard several others. His Black and Southern accents are good and he rarely falters even in rapid dialogue.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

There is still Parker's humour but Spenser's one-liners have nearly all been recycled many times.

Any additional comments?

A very thin performance all round. A painfully obvious plot padded out, Parker's 'late' dialogue which makes Hemingway look verbose and much more of the tiresome, insufferable Ms Silverman ("I'm a Harvard PhD, you know", for the thousandth time). As a Parker fan I lived in hope he was reserving a nasty fate for her but with his death that's not going to happen.

An odd idea, not well carried out

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-22-17

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Hard to say - people with more of a taste for fantasy, maybe.

What could David Eagleman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Far fewer pieces, with each one much more thoroughly worked out.

Which scene was your favorite?

None

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Not for me - I found it thoroughly dull.

Any additional comments?

I think this was a misconceived project of Eagleman's. He lacks, in my opinion, the imaginative vision to make it work. If he had chosen a just a few of his possible scenarios of the afterlife, and worked them out at the length of a long short story, or a novella, they might have worked although I don't think Eagleman's prose style is up to it - it's too laden with adjectives and adverbs. As it is, they are just snippets of ideas. For example, the last piece, the 'reverse life' idea from death to birth has been worked by several writers I can think of, and much more stylishly. Not one of these episodes really gripped my interest, and I skipped several of them, I'm sorry to say.

Curious 'cosy catastrophe' story

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-07-17

What did you like best about Goslings? What did you like least?

See below.

If you’ve listened to books by J.D. Beresford before, how does this one compare?

No

Have you listened to any of Matthew Brenher’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Was Goslings worth the listening time?

Yes

Any additional comments?

Written in 1913, this odd novel long predates other British 'catastrophe' novels like 'The Day of the Triffids' and 'The Death of Grass'. Here a plague sweeps the world killing nearly all the men. How the few surviving men, and all the women, react makes for a very listenable (though quite frequent unintendedly hilarious) book. The lower middle class Gosling family in suburban London starts to starve amid the ensuing chaos and is torn apart - the father, a survivor, soon strikes out on his own & disappears from the book, taking up with a sturdy farmer's daughter who actually knows how to grow food and survive. His own wife and 2 daughters, all pretty useless cases, are forced to strike out on their own on an odyssey to find a community to take them in - this trip is very well done, on the whole. The proprieties of the day simply don't allow the author (or his characters) to explore the inevitable sexual consequences of the national situation; in particular, it seems not to occur to many of the women until a late stage that the most valuable commodity in the world is between the few surviving men's legs & that massive polyandry is the only option for survival. Despite all this, and despite the comical (to modern readers) sexual stereotyping, this is a splendid period piece, aided by the impressively gifted narrator, who can do all sorts of accents. It's a pity about the absurd 'deus ex machina' ending; one feels that Beresford simply ran out of steam.