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TiffanyD

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  • The Kreutzer Sonata

  • By: Leo Tolstoy
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 3 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 56
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53

One of the world’s greatest novelists, Leo Tolstoy was also the author of a number of superb short stories, one of his best known being “The Kreutzer Sonata.” This macabre story involves the murder of a wife by her husband. It is a penetrating study of jealousy as well as a piercing complaint about the way in which society educates men and women in matters of sex - a serious condemnation of the mores and attitudes of the wealthy, educated class.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Leo Tolstoy was kind of a monster

  • By TiffanyD on 11-12-18

Leo Tolstoy was kind of a monster

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

Reviewed: 11-12-18

I understand he was a great writer, but in real life he was also kind of a terrible human being and this novella is the best example of that I've read so far.

The narrator is so anti-human sexuality and so ridiculously rationalizing of his own insane behavior that I almost want to believe that it's deliberate. That we have here an unreliable and unaware narrator like the guy from The Telltale Heart or John Fowles' The Collector. But having read Anna Karenina and knowing a little bit about Tolstoy's real-life marriage, I suspected that this might not be the case and a quick bit of internet reading confirms it. These are Tolstoy's actual views.

I wish I could say the views on marriage and women and sexuality were left in the age of the Tsars, but alas, a peek into the darker corners of Twitter will expose you to the same views, less artfully expressed. Contraception is bad because it degrades women! Uh-huh. Sure. It's totally not because it gives women freedom over their own bodies that makes some men uncomfortable.

The views ARE artfully expressed and the performance is quite good but I never want to return to this book or even see it in my audible library. I will be exchanging it posthaste, preferable for something written by a woman.

  • Maisie Dobbs

  • By: Jacqueline Winspear
  • Narrated by: Rita Barrington
  • Length: 10 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5,049
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,195
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,191

Maisie Dobbs isn't just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence - and the patronage of her benevolent employers - she works her way into college at Cambridge. After the War I and her service as a nurse, Maisie hangs out her shingle back at home: M. DOBBS, TRADE AND PERSONAL INVESTIGATIONS. But her very first assignment soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A delightful discovery

  • By Lori on 08-07-09

Some Mystery with a Heavy Dose of Back Story

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

Reviewed: 11-11-18

This seems less a mystery story and more of a launch pad for a new historical mystery series. While we start off with Misss Maisie Dobbs set up in a London office, we soon do some flashbacks into Maisie's entire life story, including an extensive bit about WWI. The WWI pieces are very interesting and, from what I can tell, quite historically accurate.

Still, I was disappointed in the actual mystery content.

Nonetheless, the set up made me interested in the heroine and gives me hope that future editions will be more mystery and less history lesson through flashback.

#FemaleProtagonist #WorldWarI #Tagsgiving #Sweepstakes

  • A Home at the End of the World

  • By: Michael Cunningham
  • Narrated by: Colin Farrell, Dallas Roberts, Blair Brown, and others
  • Length: 12 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 248
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 135
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 135

Michael Cunningham's celebrated novel is the story of two boyhood friends: Jonathan, lonely, introspective, and unsure of himself; and Bobby, hip, dark, and inarticulate. In New York after college, Bobby moves in with Jonathan and his roommate, Clare, a veteran of the city's erotic wars. Bobby and Clare fall in love, scuttling the plans of Jonathan, who is gay, to father Clare's child.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This book did stuff to my heart.

  • By Heather on 05-05-11

Three Enigmas Wrapped in Loneliness

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

Reviewed: 11-11-18

The three main characters here are hard for me to wrap my head around. I felt most drawn to Clare, probably because she is a woman, although towards the end it's Jonathan I felt the most for. We forget (some people were lucky to never know) how terrifying the early days of the AIDS epidemic were and when Jonathan's ex comes down with it I really felt transported back to the '80s and '90s. But I never really understood Bobby at all. As for Alice, I wasn't entirely sure why she got her own first person narration at all.

##LGBTQIA+ #QuirkyFamilies #Friends #NewYorkCity #Tagsgiving #Sweepstakes

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany

  • By: John Irving
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 27 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,792
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,398
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,402

Of all of John Irving's books, this is the one that lends itself best to audio. In print, Owen Meany's dialogue is set in capital letters; for this production, Irving himself selected Joe Barrett to deliver Meany's difficult voice as intended. In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys – best friends – are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary and terrifying.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Painfully nostalgic

  • By Barry on 07-29-15

'The Voice' can be a little grating

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

Reviewed: 11-11-18

For anyone who has read the regular text version of this doorstop of a novel (I had not), you may wonder how Owen Meany's voice comes across. It is described in the text, and rendered in all caps, but in the audio book you get an actual voice, supposedly one approved by the author himself. And yet, in the preview Audible provides, you'll only a hear a couple of whispered words from Owen. That must be deliberate because I imagine that if they previewed the full force of The Voice, no one would ever purchase this book. But honestly, after the first hour or so, it's not that bad.

As for the story itself, this was the first John Irving I've read and I don't know that I'll be running back for more. It's a very boy-focused book, with women characters mostly inhabiting only the periphery, which certainly is appropriate for a book about Christianity. It is also so heavy with foreshadowing that sometimes it seems like nothing but one large shadow. The religious theme is declared in the first sentence and becomes a bit tedious for this reader/listener. There are moments of humor for sure, but the narrator is a wet blanket and it's hard for me to care about his salvation, either physically or spiritually.

#Absurd #UnlikelyHero #NewEngland #NewHampshire #Tagsgiving #Sweepstakes

  • The Collector

  • By: John Fowles
  • Narrated by: James Wilby
  • Length: 8 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 366
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 334
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 336

Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time. Alone and desperate, Miranda must struggle to overcome her own prejudices and contempt if she is understand her captor, and so gain her freedom.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Masterful narration

  • By Sharon on 06-04-13

Haunting story, excellent narration

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

Reviewed: 11-01-18

One of the creepiest first person narrators you're ever likely to encounter, excellently portrayed by James Wilby. The middle of the story drags a bit when we move away from the anti-hero and towards his victim (I think it's important to get her perspective but this section could have been tightened up a lot) but all in all, I couldn't have chosen a better listen for Halloween. I didn't realize until midway through that the author had also written The French Lieutenant's Woman, which I didn't care for half as much. So if you didn't like it either, don't be put off from reading this if you want a haunting read.

  • The Real Lolita

  • The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World
  • By: Sarah Weinman
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 7 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 88
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 82
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 82

Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is one of the most beloved novels ever. And yet, very few of its readers know that the subject of the novel was inspired by a real-life case: the 1948 abduction of 11-year-old Sally Horner. Weaving together suspenseful crime narrative, cultural and social history, and literary investigation, The Real Lolita tells Sally Horner’s full story for the first time. Sarah Weinman uncovers how much Nabokov knew of the Sally Horner case and the efforts he took to disguise that knowledge during the process of writing and publishing Lolita.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Meandering and tedious while never delivering the promised story.

  • By Timothy McCarthy on 09-15-18

Great for Lovers of True Crime and Lolita

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

Reviewed: 10-25-18

Fans of Nabokov's Lolita and true crime will both find something here. It's a quick read/listen and details are all too scarce about what actually happened to Sally Horner, but the author does her best with the sources at her disposal.

Also helps as a reminder of what a monster Nabokov's anti-hero really is. In fact, while I say it's good for Lolita fans, those fans who see Delores as a seductress and HH as a real hero will probably feel uncomfortable with this book.

  • The Golden Bowl

  • By: Henry James
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble, Katherine Kellgren
  • Length: 21 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 96
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 82
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 81

Published in 1904, The Golden Bowl is the last completed novel of Henry James. In it, the widowed American Adam Verver is in Europe with his daughter Maggie. They are rich, finely appreciative of European art and culture, and deeply attached to each other. Maggie has all the innocent charm of so many of Jamess young American heroines. She is engaged to Amerigo, an impoverished Italian prince; he must marry money, and as his name suggests, an American heiress is the perfect solution.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Collapses under the weight of its own brilliance

  • By Erez on 03-18-14

Claustrophobic and Repetitive

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

Reviewed: 10-22-18

This was my first full-length Henry James novel. Given that I am a huge fan of the novel, and I lean towards anglophile, this is surprising. But in the past I had read only The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers, both quite short.

Equally surprising is how tiresome I found this novel. I can zip through an 800 page Anthony Trollope with ease but everything about The Golden Bowl seemed claustrophobic and repetitive. Although the good news is that bulk of the novel is not nearly as inscrutable as the introduction, which was simply painful.

The claustrophobia is due in large part to the limited characters. Charlotte, Fanny, Maggie, and the Prince are the only ones we really hear from. They circle around each other for over 500 pages. The repetition comes from the dialogue. So many instances of once character simply repeating what another said! Here's a quite mild example:

“Then do you yourself know?”
“How much—?”
“How much.”
“How far—?”
“How far.”

Maybe in a text-only version this wouldn't be so bad but in the audiobook and it became unbearable to hear the constant repetition.

I've long had Henry James on my "must read" list because he's supposed to be such a master of the form. And certainly the plot set up of a wicked love rectangle of sorts is interesting.

"Interesting?"
"Yes, interesting."
"But well-executed?"
"Well-executed? Some say so."
"Some?"
"Many."
"But do you say so?"
"Do I say so?"
"Yes"
"No, I do not say so."

  • A Tale of a Tub

  • By: Jonathan Swift
  • Narrated by: Peter Wickham
  • Length: 4 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6

Swift's allegorical satire about religion and politics follows the lives of three brothers, Martin, Peter, and Jack, each of who represents a faction of the Christian faith - Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, and the dissenting faiths, respectively. Each brother inherits a coat (representing religious practice) from their father (God) on the condition that they do not change it. But instead the three quarrelsome youths disobey their father and change their coats beyond recognition.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Sometimes drifted into background noise

  • By TiffanyD on 10-14-18

Sometimes drifted into background noise

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

Reviewed: 10-14-18

I tried really hard to pay attention through all of this but the truth is that I had many moments where my eyes started to glaze over (or what's the equivalent for ears?) and A Tale of a Tub just became background noise. Then I'd rewind an try again and the same thing would happen. I don't think that's the narrator's fault. I thought he was pretty good.

But I think my historical knowledge is not comprehensive enough to get all of the satire without significant annotations and an audiobook version doesn't really lend itself to copious footnotes. I have enjoyed Jonathan Swift in the past, but I kept getting lost in this. The "tale" itself was challenging to keep track of (Peter and Martin were obvious enough stand ins for Catholics and Lutherans but I confess I needed google to get who Jack was) and the digressions were even harder. Still a fan of Swift, and I bet audiobooks of Gulliver's Travels are great, but I couldn't make the format plus the content work for me here.

  • Glamorama

  • By: Bret Easton Ellis
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 20 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 139
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 113
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 115

From his first novel – Less Than Zero – published when he was still a college student – to his most recent – the fierce American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis has been a powerful and original presence in contemporary literature, whether giving voice to a previously inchoate generation or provoking a controversy that raged throughout the culture. Now he takes a quantum leap forward: an awesome reckoning of the American Century at endgame. In Glamorama, a young man in what is recognizably fashion and celebrity-obsessed Manhattan is gradually, imperceptibly drawn into a shadowy looking-glass of that society, there and in London and Paris, and then finds himself trapped on the other side, in a much darker place where fame and terrorism and family and politics are inextricably linked and sometimes indistinguishable. At once implicated and horror-stricken, his ways of escape blocked at every turn, he ultimately discovers – back on the other, familiar side – that there was no mirror, no escape, no world but this one in which hotels implode and planes fall from the sky.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Riotous, as funny and brutal as American Psycho

  • By Cory Cantales on 09-05-14

Dated abd Dull

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

Reviewed: 10-10-18

American Psycho is still on my "to-read" list but after this and Less Than Zero I wonder if it's time for me to give up on Bret Easton Ellis. The "Wealthy Americans Are Often Vapid" theme is barely enough to sustain Less Than Zero and that's a pretty slim novel. Glamorama is LONG and lots of it is just pages and pages of celebrity names. I guess it was sometimes amusing to scan the memory banks trying to remember which of the names dropped were made up and which were actual celebrities that burned out in the '90s, now almost forgotten. And I did think the narrator did a good job with a very unsympathetic character. But ultimately I was often bored. Also, isn't there an award of some sort for writing bad sex scenes? Glamorama deserves all the awards in all the categories.

  • What a Carve Up!

  • By: Jonathan Coe
  • Narrated by: Colin Buchanan
  • Length: 15 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 41
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 34

It is the 1980s and the Winshaw family are getting richer and crueller by the year. Newspaper-columnist Hilary gets thousands for telling it like it isn’t; Henry’s turning hospitals into car-parks; Roddy’s selling art in return for sex; down on the farm Dorothy’s squeezing every last pound from her livestock; Thomas is making a killing on the stock exchange; and Mark is selling arms to dictators.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A triumph

  • By S. R. Gibb on 08-10-10

Excellent story & narration, weirdly abridged

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

Reviewed: 09-03-18

I loved the story and I think the narrator did an amazing job. With a few exceptions, these aren't lovable characters, but they are all brought to despicable and/or pathetic life and the humor is top notch.

Normally I would give this nothing but high marks. Unfortunately, the book is not truly unabridged.

Dorothy's section was exceptionally curtailed (and rearranged, coming in a different chapter order than in the print edition) and I found several instances of other edits as well. I know this was published in both America and Britain, so I suppose there might be differences in the print editions themselves and that the audio book is following a different edition than mine. But the Dorothy section is cut down so excessively that this doesn't seem like a good explanation.

If you don't mind an abridged version, go for it. But maybe keep a print edition handy to see what you're missing.