The audio edition highlighted Isabel Allende's gift for storytelling. I could have listened to this for many more hours but the story is...moreAudio Edition
The audio edition highlighted Isabel Allende's gift for storytelling. I could have listened to this for many more hours but the story is about Zorro's beginning - his birth in Alta California, his childhood, his travels and escapades in Spain and his return as a young adult home again. Along the way there are love stories, injustices, secrets, swashbuckling pirates, humor, heartbreak, villainy and heroism.
It's worth noting that the reader, Blair Brown, is outstanding. Imagine her daunting task - she must channel a mostly male cast of characters whose ages range from 5 to 50+, with a variety of accents: Spanish (2nd generation Spanish settlers, Cubans, Barcelonans, Mexicans) or Indian or settlers in Louisiana. In my opinion, she does an outstanding job differentiating voices and tracking them through their aging process, yet keeping them consistent enough that I knew who was speaking without the tags of 'he said' or 'so and so said.'
This is a thoroughly enjoyable way to 'read' this book. The adventures, romances, perils, losses and victories come to life in the audio version and add depth and dimension to the larger-than-life tale of Zorro.(less)
When I was a child I read this book every time I got sick and had to stay in bed. I'm not sure why I chose this one over and over but I enjoyed the de...moreWhen I was a child I read this book every time I got sick and had to stay in bed. I'm not sure why I chose this one over and over but I enjoyed the description of the garden and the house and the little boy. However, I don't think I could read it today without the fear of a fever or headache coming on. Thankfully, the images and story are forever etched in my memory.(less)
This is a sweeping, historical view of one of the most influential European monarchs. She reined as empress of Russia in the 1700s. Catherine, Sophia...moreThis is a sweeping, historical view of one of the most influential European monarchs. She reined as empress of Russia in the 1700s. Catherine, Sophia before her conversion to Roman Orthodox, is described richly in the first half of the book. This appears mainly due to the author's use of the memoirs the young Catherine wrote until she became empress. Her life and all its challenges come alive from chapter to chapter - it was very eye-opening to see how children were treated - leveraged - during that time period. I found her experience and that of other noble children didn't differ greatly from the serfs - their fates were determined by those with power over them.
The second half of the book references writings and letters of significant others around Catherine, and inevitably I felt like I was now witnessing her life as empress from a distance. Although she was influenced by the Enlightment movement, reality of her position and Russia's culture limited the changes she could effect. Her leadership and values appear to align more closely with Elizabeth, even though she strived to continue Peter the Great's legacy.
This book provided insight into one of the world's most significant leaders, and although the second half more closely resembled a history textbook, it was enjoyable.(less)
Some call this speculative fiction, I think it's more like the new weird sci fi. Tom-ay-to, tom-ah-to. It was a really good read however you want to c...moreSome call this speculative fiction, I think it's more like the new weird sci fi. Tom-ay-to, tom-ah-to. It was a really good read however you want to classify it. I liked the innovative juxtaposition of just about everything - modern technology / Victorian times; strong war heroine / classic villian; international politics / classic literary conspiracy theories; megalomanical corporations / romance; portals / dodos as pets.
I sense there are so many literary plays on words and references to other works that I missed but I'm okay with that. Some were obvious - Paige Turner - but they didn't seem corny. To the contrary, the world the heroine Thursday Next lives in revolves so heavily around literature that it makes sense people would name their childern after charaters and literary pasttimes. War is also featured prominently, affecting Thursday's life, her family, her romantic interest and her choice of career and her personality. I'm not sure I needed the anagram of 'Crimea' pointed out to me - I get that the author is very clever.
I was content to live in 1985 with these characters, or whatever that year is in this alternate universe of Thursday Next's. It's that alternate reality, the familiar places and times with strange twists and elements of magic and supernatural that make me think of this as the new weird.
As I was saying, I was content until they began time traveling in one chapter, when Thursday goes on a mission for the Chronoguard. I had the sense that this chapter was inserted not to propel the plot forward but to add a teaser for the next book (or other future one). In it, Thursday sees herself protecting a yet unknown man. I can only guess the author got a book deal for the series and felt compelled to entice us with this one bit of unfinished business. Otherwise, all the other threads in Thursday's life seem to get tied together with a nice, big bow by the end. The only other teaser that stood out was the reference to Archeron Hades as "the third-most evil man on the planet" (gosh, I just love Kindle's search capabililties! The quote is at location 5750, by the way.) because it isn't clear to me who numbers one and two are. Jack Schitt? (Really, I have to giggle a little.) Who else is more evil than Archeron?
There are a lot of characters and some stand out more than others for their depth and development - Thursday, Archeron, Bowden Cable, Mycroft Next. Daisy (mind you, a very bit character but a big obstacle for our heroine) reminds me so much of 'Mrs. Quickly' from the first Nanny McPhee, she could have been the same character; I can picture her with the yellow hair, ugly pink Little Bo Beep dress and low-class British accent.
I recommend this book - it was innovative, interesting and intriguing. Reading 'Jane Eyre' and brushing up on Shakespeare conspiracy theories would have made this a more robust reading experience, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I honestly don't know which ending of the book to believe (the unfinished, unsatifsying one of the 'original manuscript' where Jane leaves for Africa or the one in this book); I sympathized a touch with the Baconians; and I definitely would not want to be on the bad side of the Bronte Federation. Good fun!
I can't recall whether I've read any of Ernest Hemingway's books but his name is synonymous with great writers. And having read this book, I think I w...moreI can't recall whether I've read any of Ernest Hemingway's books but his name is synonymous with great writers. And having read this book, I think I would appreciate his stories better. I really sympathize with Hadley and what she did. She seems like the ultimate, self-sacrificing wife but I like that she stayed true to herself - the qualities Earnest loved about her - even when it meant the right decision was to leave him.
All the foreshadowing in the story seemed superfluous - as if it needs to be pointed out to readers hich events were turning points because we couldn't have figured it out for ourselves. That was a little annoying and overshadowed by the page-turning drama of Hadley and Ernest's lives in the 20s. I can't imagine traveling so much or having so much leisure time or leaving your child in someone else's care for months at a time. It was a foreign time and foreign places described richly and simply.
It was an enjoyable story. I will have more appreciation for 'A Moveable Feast' and 'The Sun Also Rises' than I would have before 'The Paris Wife.'(less)
I'm having a hard time getting through this one. I read the predecessor, "The Last Templar," a couple years ago and thought it was pretty good. This o...moreI'm having a hard time getting through this one. I read the predecessor, "The Last Templar," a couple years ago and thought it was pretty good. This one just doesn't keep my attention. It's what I read when I'm between books to see if just a few more pages will hook me so I can finish it. No such luck.(less)