A titan of American letters, Paul Theroux wowed audiences and critics with his modern classic The Mosquito Coast. Its captivating thematic cousin, The Lower River, stars Ellis Hock, a man whose dreams of world travel and humanitarianism in the Peace Corps were dashed when he returned home to assume control of his family's business. Now with his wife having left and his life stagnant, Ellis makes the fateful decision to travel back to the small African village he once called home. Yet the happiness and fulfillment he seeks remain elusive.
What would have made The Lower River better?
It should have ended right in the middle. The halfway point had a more compelling ending and the second half of the book dragged.
What was most disappointing about Paul Theroux’s story?
I began to loath the protagonist. The story needed an unhappy ending.
Have you listened to any of Jefferson Mays’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
It compares very well. He is a great storyteller.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
The premise was interesting. The first half was compelling.
Any additional comments?
I had high expectations before reading the book. It might have been better with lower expectations.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I have read all of his books. I was hooked once I read Mosquito Coast. This narrator brings the story to life, So much more than just reading the words on a page.
The hero ,after a long married life, and a successful business career as a tailor; decides to return to Malawi, where he was once a teacher.He is disappointed in the deterioration of the former promising place.He attempts some renovations in an attempt to help the people.Instead he is tricked by the locals and is basically trapped by them.Their plan is to bleed him of all of his money and self worth..His extensive knowledge of snakes enables him to keep a safe distance from them. Several escape attempts are thwarted and his contact with some unfriendly aide workers makes his situation seem hopeless,since they don't do anything to rescue him from his captors talons.I don''t want to spoil the ending,so I won't reveal any more.As an avid Theroux fan and a fellow teacher abroad I endorse this particular book as one of his better fictional works.I still think his best stuff has been the railway journeys,but this was entertaining and even though it is fiction some of it is of course loosely based on the authors illustrious life as a teacher in Malawi.
I'm a huge fan of Paul Theroux and I've read all his fiction and non-fiction, I loved Dark Star, but this book was almost unreadable because his star character is such a weak, pathetic sniveling sob. If it was non fiction it would be good, but why write fiction with such a despicable character? I guess a writer gets to pick his characters and develop them anyway he wants in the name of art, but does the reader have to suffer as a result.
One of the best books I have ever read or listened to. From the minute Ellis Hock arrived in Africa till the minute he ..... (won't give the end away!) I was spellbound by this haunting tale. Paul Theroux is a first class story teller and Jefferson Mays' narration superb. The overriding message seems to be: if you are going to give help to Africa, do it wisely or it does more harm than good.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful