-beautiful prose. -thoughtful, philosophical content about a son's relationship to an absent father. -a mThere are several reasons to choose this book:
-beautiful prose. -thoughtful, philosophical content about a son's relationship to an absent father. -a memoir that illustrates how political events shape the lives of a nation's people. -details about life under the Libyan dictator Qaddafi.
Themes are smoothly and thoughtfully interwoven. This is not merely a book about historical events. It is not only one man's, the author's, struggle to come to terms with the uncertainty of his father's death and his own guilt in failing to save him. The book is both.
The author has lived for a long time in London, Manhattan, Cairo and Tripoli. Where is home? This is another theme of the book. He is Arab and Western. He is extremely well educated. He is a teacher of literature, an architect, an author and is willing to reveal his inner thoughts. His experiences are movingly told with just the right amount of background information so the reader understands the Libyan context, but he doesn't go off on long tangents about history or politics. You learn, you understand and you are engaged.
The author narrates the audiobook. It is read very slowly, which I liked. This gave me time to appreciate the poetry of his lines and to jot down Arabic names of which I am unfamiliar. Fluent in both English and Arabic, there are no mispronunciations. This is an exception to the rule that author’s should not read their own book! He does a very good job. There is a technical problem with the audiobook. At one point a section of the book is read twice!
The author is clearly both his father's and his grandfather's descendant. All three are/were poets, politically active, upstanding moral human beings with high principles. Fascinating people to read about! With this under my belt, I will read the author’s novel In the Country of Men, which I think can be more fully understood having read his memoir first. ...more
Rating this is simple. I know I really liked it, so four stars! Figuring out why I liked it so much is the hard part.….but not really. It is because tRating this is simple. I know I really liked it, so four stars! Figuring out why I liked it so much is the hard part.….but not really. It is because the book displays in-depth character analysis. This appeals to me. There is a lot to think about in terms of how people (lovers and spouses and friends and siblings) relate to each other.
The central theme of this book is the relationship between painter Vanessa Bell and her sister, the famed author Virginia Woolf, two central figures of the Bloomsbury Group. In 1905, when the book begins, Vanessa and her brother Thoby began the "Thursday Evenings" followed by the "Friday Club" meetings. These became the basis for the Bloomsbury Group. I must repeat, the book focuses on personal relationships. Primarily that between the sisters, but also with their brothers, Adrian and Thoby Stephen, and other members of the group - Lytton Stachey, E. M. Forster, Clive Bell, Roger Fry, Desmond MacCarthy, Duncan Grant and Leonard Woolf. There is a bit about young John Maynard Keynes too, another important member. The book is less about the achievements of the Bloomsbury Group than about the relationships that existed between its members. This is important to understand when choosing to read the book or not. The book concludes in 1912 with Virginia's marriage to Leonard Woolf. Only a short period, eight years, is covered.
This book is historical fiction. There are zillions of non-fiction books detailing the specific achievements of the group's members. What this book does is draw the internal landscapes of the characters. Their emotions and thoughts. The author thoroughly convinced me that she understood these individuals and portrayed their internal thoughts and emotions genuinely.
There is an afterword that briefly explains what happened to the characters after 1912. It also states that the author has followed the historical template. That which is fictional is clearly specified. The book is told through Vanessa's diary entries, and other assorted letters, postcards and telegrams. Vanessa never kept a diary, and thus the lines are fictional. The essential is that these lines while being fictional are based on solid research. I am thoroughly convinced that the author has captured the internal landscape accurately. The lines feel true and they offer food for thought to an inquisitive reader. I like this book because of the fictional lines. I like the book because at the same time the author has not distorted the facts. She made one minor change and that is clearly specified.
The audiobook narration is very good too. There are four different narrators. It is the author of the letter, diary entry, postcard or telegram that determines who narrates that part of the audibook. Emilia Fox is the main narrator; she reads Vanessa's entries. She does a superb job. Clare Corbett reads Virginia's entries; her narration is fine but nothing special. Julian Rhind-Tutt reads Lytton Strachey's entries. Daniel Pirrie reads Leonard Woolf's, Saxon Sydney-Turner's and Clive Bell's entries. Anthony Calf reads Roger Fry's, Thoby Stephen's and Desmond MacCarthy's entries. All of the male roles were very well read. You easily understand who is speaking; you hear the voice and are given pertinent details that clarify the origin of the correspondence.
I learned a lot about both Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. Both are fascinating individuals and artists. I prefer this book over The Hours. I feel you get a deeper understanding of Virginia, of her quirkiness, of her talents, her intelligence and her illness and finally of her ever so important relationship with Vanessa. ...more
I totally disliked this book. I have read Woolf previously and enjoyed several of her volumes. I cannot imagine that the few lines of stream of consciI totally disliked this book. I have read Woolf previously and enjoyed several of her volumes. I cannot imagine that the few lines of stream of consciousness writing could be a stumbling block to readers. The problem here is instead that this is a polemic. A polemic is by definition:
-an aggressive attack or refutation of the opinions or principles of another -the art or practice of disputation by controversy
Aggressive is the word to focus upon.
The substance of this novel is based on lectures given by Virginia Woolf at Newnham College and Girton College, two women's colleges at Cambridge University in October 1928. A fictional narrator is woven around the “extended essay” based on the named lectures. These lectures are about women both as authors and as characters in fiction. A second fictional character is added by Woolf - Judith, Shakespeare's sister.
The fictional characters and narrative allow the author to use her distinctive "stream of consciousness" technique but it is used sparingly and not hard to follow.
What I objected to was the aggressive, angry and negative tone of the lectures, the central and most important focus of the book, i.e. the non-fiction part of the book. Over and over again with example after example Woolf illustrates how historically women have been dominated and repressed by men. She rants that society has made it impossible for women to promote themselves. To succeed they must have both money and "a room of their own" where they can write undisturbed. Rather than ranting about the past I would have preferred that Woolf focused not upon the negative but those few women who have succeeded. Give positive examples for other women to follow rather than focus on past failures. There have been female authors who wrote and were acclaimed as early as in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Aphra Benn (1640-1689), Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762), Mary Masters (1706?-1759?), Fanny Berney (1752-1840) and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) to name but a few! There are female artists too. I say encourage rather than discourage.
There are a few descriptive lines in the fictional sections that I enjoyed. I could scarcely appreciate them due to the anger boiling up in me.
The audiobook I listened to is narrated by Juliet Stevenson. She is utterly magnificent. It was not the narration that caused me trouble. The audiobook has no introduction but at the end there are fragments of poems. These poems are called short stories, which they really were not. Merely very short fragments of something…… They did not speak to me. ...more
I have just begun. I have only completed chapter 10:
EVERYBODY must try a Trollope. He does not deliver the normal VictorianI have just begun. I have only completed chapter 10:
EVERYBODY must try a Trollope. He does not deliver the normal Victorian brew. I am NOT a reader of the Victorian genre. Trollope's are something different; Trollope's are special.
I am sitting here thinking of all those like me who before trying Trollope have no idea that such exists.
IF you have not read Trollope - please do me a favor and try one.
Delightful humor. You read them for their humor. Sweet humor. Subtle, tongue-in-cheek humor.
I am listening to an audiobook narrated by Timothy West. IF you do audiobooks, please let me request one more favor. LISTEN to this narrated by West. I am not 100% sure if it is his narration or the lines that bring out the humor so wonderfully.
I definitely recommend this classic. It doesn't read like a classic at all. Trollope’s books are the only "Victorian novels" that really appeal to me. It is not stuffy. It is filled with fantastic lines - humorous and full of insight into human behavior.
Trollope understands women. His female characters are true to life. There are a number here, and they are not all the same; each one is a very different individual. Each one is true to their own character. They do not become caricatures. You listen to their words. You watch what they do and you nod and empathize with their struggles. Each must decide in their own way how they wish to lead their life. Trollope's women are intelligent, thinking creatures. Many politically active, at least to the extent they can be politically active. Money and love and marriage and the choices open to women of this era - Britain 1860s - this is the feminine side of the book's central theme.
And the men, they are each different too. You may think that in portraying different kinds of people they turn into stereotypes, but they don't because you watch them being torn between choices. The central character is Phineas Finn. He has no money but he wants above all to be in Parliament. Only parliamentarians in the cabinet were paid. He was lucky. He worked hard and read to see what happens. Here the central question is to what extent you follow the dictates of your party. What if your own principles conflict with that prescribed by your party?
The politics is not heavy, although I was a bit confused at the start. The issues debated are all concerned with voting rights. At this time only those with property could vote. The ballot, enfranchisement, configuration of voting districts and Irish tenant rights are debated. Phineas Finn is Irish. The political battle is drawn from history. See the Second Reform Act of 1867: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reform_...
Why doesn’t this become dry and boring? Two reasons. First of all the humor. Secondly because Trollope through his characters and through the plot interweaves philosophical questions. Party versus personal convictions, love versus money, play versus work, privacy versus prominence. Questions all of us confront. Questions for which there is no right or wrong, but which each individual must come to terms with - as individuals and as couples. How do you choose? The book looks at different characters and different choices, with humor and without rancor.
I read books for pleasure. I enjoy learning something new and thinking about human relationships. Real human relationships, not those of the fantasticI read books for pleasure. I enjoy learning something new and thinking about human relationships. Real human relationships, not those of the fantastical sort. I want to have something to ponder. In addition I want writing that describes places, people and situations well.
I learned nothing new from this book.
The human relationships as described herein are not true to life. Maybe members of the Bloomsbury Group, of which D. H. Lawrence was one, did in fact communicated with each other with extremely nasty remarks, but the manner in which the characters in this book respond to each other is beyond acceptable. The dialogs are unimaginable, totally bizarre. If members of the group did speak this negatively, well it just means the book is terribly dated. Page after page of mean criticisms is not something I can enjoy.
This book is extremely hard to read. There isn't a line of humor. Nothing at all to smile about. You move from dysfunctional family relationships to discordant couples to death and sorrow and indecision. You creep forward at the pace of a snail.
Watching the death of a loved one is movingly described. I have not told you who will die.
The descriptions of body, landscapes and some situations are well done. Emotions less so. Someone should count how many times the word hate is used in this book. Sure, a person's emotions can quickly flip between love and hate, but the excessive expression of extreme emotions is used so flippantly that the power of such emotions comes to mean nothing. They lose their value.
If you are wondering – there is no graphic sex in this book.
The central theme? Love relationships. Between couples and between parents and children. Is there a message? Yes, let your children go. Mothers, don't keep them too tightly tied to your apron strings. A secondary theme: the restraints of the Victorian age on women. These are the topics the book will leave you thinking about….if you can manage to keep reading. That was meant to be a joke.
OK, I used to love Simon Vance as an audiobook narrator. I thought he could do anything, but that’s wrong. He cannot. In a dialog he switches between a female and a male voice. There are different men and there are different women. The characters of one gender do not all have the same personality. That is unfortunately what this performance relays.
After about half:
This book is making me crabby. There is such tension between the characters! They are all so high-strung, mean, nasty. "Relax, be happy, have fun, enjoy life for a minute," I feel like lecturing. This is a book of warning showing how moms can baby their kids to death....
Yeah, I will continue but the book doesn't put me in a good mood.
Yes, D.H. Lawrence describes scenery, the jut of a chin or how a shoulder is held well, but I need more than that. I am trying to ask myself if this mining family is typical, if what is happening to them psychologically is due to their deplorable living conditions. I don't think so. When they get a better house and jobs for the sons, does anything improve? Scarcely! For me it seems the problem is a question of attitude. Grrr. It is just a book. Don't get so upset, Chrissie. ...more
The audiobook narration is so distracting that the book's content becomes extremely difficult to absorb. I managed, but only barely, to continue to thThe audiobook narration is so distracting that the book's content becomes extremely difficult to absorb. I managed, but only barely, to continue to the end. I was drawn in by the topic - the relationships between Mary Shelley(1797-1851), the author of Frankenstein, the poet-philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley(1792-1822), whom she eventually married, her stepsister Claire Clairmont(1798-1879), her half-sister Fanny Imlay(1794-1816), poet Lord Byron(1788-1824) and others of the family. Aaron Burr was a family friend and his remarks made me laugh. These characters’ relationships were certainly out of the ordinary! My rating does, in this rare instance, reflect the audiobook narration! I am not sure I can separate the two.
Percy Shelley’s and Lord Byron’s poetry are quoted. You learn how Frankenstein came to be and how it reflects the era. You learn, perhaps, what Mary was trying to express through the book, although this was rather fuzzy for me. I would have appreciated more about Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, writer and advocate of women’s rights. The book ends soon after Byron’s death, 27 years before Mary’s death. .
Want my opinion? I find these characters so despicable that I wonder if it is even worth my effort to try and understand them. I know what happened in Mary’s life, but don’t know if I understand her. Byron and Shelley may have written great lines of poetry, but for me this does not outweigh their actions.
There is no author’s note. I assume what is fictional are the dialogs.
Please read below; I explain explicitly the faults of the audiobook narration.
2.5 hours left of a 12.5 hour audiobook:
This book about Mary and Percy Shelley plus Byron and Mary's stepsister, Claire, is difficult. Their horrid behavior is more than unbelievable. Adultery is not something that usually shocks me.
Do I like the book? NO! I don't think it is well written. I find it extremely difficult to not be influenced by the worst audiobook narration I have ever encountered. I can scarcely think about the words. Yes, it is well-researched, but not well written. The story, what they did and what happens is told point by point, but the dialogs and insight into the characters' internal thoughts are lacking. Ridiculous dialogs. The lines are antiquated. Maybe my judgment is too harsh b/c the lines do reflect that time period. For me they do not flow well.
I will finish this book to get the information but I am not enjoying myself in the least. This is pure torture.
Do NOT choose the audiobook narrated by Susan Duerden. Her narration is monotone. the women are shrill and squeaky or breathless. The melody makes the words almost impossible to follow. The tempo is usually OK, but in one section I thought she was racing to the end, only to discover hours remained.
I will be honest. I have a very hard time judging if the written words are acceptable and if it is only the narration that is destroying the book for me. I believe it is also poorly written, but am not quite sure.
Parts are boring and so very conventional. Absolutely nothing new, exactly what you have read in a million other historical fiction books about the FiParts are boring and so very conventional. Absolutely nothing new, exactly what you have read in a million other historical fiction books about the First World War. Yet my interest piqued as I watched the effect of the war on the McCosh family – father, mother, four daughters (Rosie, Christabel, Ottilie and Sophie) and their devoted servants (Cookie and Millicent) – as well as their two neighbors, the Pendennis and the Pitts, the first with three and the second with two sons living at home. These nine kids grew up together. The book is about life during and after the war. It covers the horrors of warfare and the excitement of battle, reliance on faith and lack of faith as a result of the war, women’s and the lower classes’ changed position in society, belief in the occult, even homosexuality is touched upon. All of the trends that marked the era. Don’t forget the Spanish Flu! It is all here, yet if you have read other books you will not find much new. If it is your first book about this war, and you are looking for a general easily read novel you’ll probably enjoy this.
It is clearly a book that will be the first of a series. The characters are not fully developed; there is clearly more to come. Not all the girls are married/settled yet. The father and mother of the girls have on-going issues to be resolved. So far that which has happened is exactly what I guessed would happen after reading a few chapters. Let’s just say very predictable!
It is a relatively light read. I can give it three stars because it is has accurate historical details and does have humor. There are funny lines and funny situations. One of the McCosh sisters, Sophie is amusing. She is the smart one really, in my view at least, but she messes up words. She loves fancy words and she uses them incessantly. Every time she enters the scene you know you will be chuckling. It is a puzzle figuring out what she is trying to say! I said she was wise; it is her that says the title of the book. Our life is the “dust that falls from dreams”. Think about that. What can that mean? I liked her. I also liked that she marries a chaplain who questions his faith. Rosie, on the other hand is sure in her faith and she drove me bonkers! Until….. well, I am certainly not going to tell you and anyway I don’t know the end because the story certainly isn’t over. It just ends at a nice spot. I don’t really prefer series, but maybe you do. Without the humor I would have given the book less stars. I liked the mix of deep and light, of humor and sad. You should see the crazy things Mrs. McCosh does. And the sweet things Mr. McCosh does. A sweet book, a light, conventional book about British people during the First World War.
The audiobook has two narrators: David Sibley and Avita Jay. Those chapters predominantly concerned with the girls are spoken by Avita, the boys by David. I cannot quite figure it out because the principle character is Rosie McCosh and yet David Sibley reads more of the story than Avita Jay! In the Pitt family the mother is from France. There are simple lines of untranslated French. French pronunciation is understandable but not good. This shouldn’t be so since the Pitts were fluent in French! For some reason Sibley thinks aristocrats speak in a clipped manner. Not a bad narration, but not super.
This book is good, but the author's Any Human Heart is better.....and they are so darn similar.
In both you get the history of the 20th century, althoThis book is good, but the author's Any Human Heart is better.....and they are so darn similar.
In both you get the history of the 20th century, although not the same historical events. Historical facts are always correct!
In both you visit places all over the world. Here it is England and Scotland and Paris, as well as Provence, and Berlin and Basel, Switzerland, and Vietnam and the US. The essence of each locale as well as the historical events that took place in each are well documented.
In the other book we follow Logan. In this we follow Amory, a photographer. Both are sexually active. Her behavior and character make complete sense. We follow her through her entire life. We come to understand her. The choices she makes are completely logical given her experiences..... But here is the problem; no other character has such depth as Amory. No other character do we come to fully understand. The story is really just about one person, just Amory. I happen to agree with her views on how one's own (view spoiler)[children must be allowed to make their own lives. (hide spoiler)] I also agree with her views on life, taking chances and one's own death. There is a lot in this book I agree with, for example the long lasting effects of war on the people that live through wars. You think when the peace treaties are signed the war is over.....but it is not so! Repercussions play out for decades.
There is nothing wrong with the book, but it simply is not a new story from Boyd. I wanted something different, something new.
I did not like the narration at all. As usual this does not influence my rating. Jilly Bond narrates the audiobook. If you like dramatizations then you will love it. I want to listen to the words and form my own opinion on the each respective character's personality. I don't want this to be spelled out to me through intonations. There are Scots and English and French and Americans and Australians. The dialects are sometimes ridiculously exaggerated and other times quite simply wrong. Bond had me giggling when I wasn't supposed to be. In my view the narration gets in the way of absorbing the written lines. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Definitely funny.....but maybe too funny? Do you know what I mean?
Of course I chuckled at lines like these:
"You will never persuade a mouse that a blDefinitely funny.....but maybe too funny? Do you know what I mean?
Of course I chuckled at lines like these:
"You will never persuade a mouse that a black cat is lucky." (chapter 5)
"I had such a good memory.......once!" (chapter 6)
"I have never planned anything illegal in my life! How could I plan anything of the kind, when I have never read any of the laws and have no idea what they are?!" (chapter 7)
"A little honest thieving hurts no one." And then, "It was all very harmless and gave employment to many."(chap 8)
Have you noted how the statements get more and more criminal in tone? Can Graham Greene write a book without turning it into a mystery or a crime novel? (view spoiler)[Interpol, smuggling, art theft and counterfeit are on display here! (hide spoiler)]. What exactly is the relationship between Aunt Augusta and her nephew, Henry? It helps to enjoy crime mystery novels. Here you get an amusing spoof.
Back to the humor. I read somewhere that Graham Greene wrote this, his sole purpose being to compose a f-u-n-n-y book. The humor changes as the book proceeds. It becomes sharper, more satirical. Politics, sex, religion and human behavior are often the brunt of the joke.
I would like to give you a feel for the humor because what appeals to one will be dishwater to another.... and yet I fear that you have to know the characters to understand the message conveyed. On sex, Aunt Augusta declares, keep in mind she is in her seventies, "I have always preferred an occasional orgie to a nightly routine." Or, if you are annoyed at your kids, this line might speak to you, "They go away from you. You can't go away from them." The lines are clever and funny, and certainly I chuckled often, but it is exactly that that I cannot deal with. I cannot read a joke book from start to finish.
Have you noted that I have shelved this book in many different countries? The book is about travel and all the countries where I have shelved it are visited.....but you neither see nor smell nor experience the different couture of the lands visited. You get a teeny bit about Paraguay. The two, aunt and nephew, travel on the Oriental Express. So much more could have been done with that!
This is a book of humor. The narrator of the audiobook, Tim Pigott-Smith, did an absolutely marvelous job of revealing that humor. He uses different intonations for the different characters in a wonderful way. Five stars for the narration.
Please keep in mind that you may totally love this book even if it was not a good fit for me. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more