I am impressed by this book. It gave me much more than I expected. I picked it up because I had heard it was humorous. It certainly was. It is also weI am impressed by this book. It gave me much more than I expected. I picked it up because I had heard it was humorous. It certainly was. It is also well written. It has history, brings to the fore environmental issues and pulls at your heartstrings. What more do you want from a book?!
I am now in love with Magellanic penguins. Go take a peek at them on Google. Juan Salvador was just such a penguin, but what a penguin he was! He was a listener. He spoke with his eyes. Tell me, who got the better deal? The penguin, Juan Salvador, saved from an oil slick off the coast of Uruguay where thousands of penguins died OR those humans who came to know him - the author, the Bolivian boy Diego whom he swam with, Maria or the other attendants and teachers at St. George's College? Was he a savior or was he the saved? That is the question. I learned so much about these marvelous creatures. I learned with my head and with my heart.
The author, Tom Michell, was an assistant master at the above named, rather exclusive boarding school in 1975 - 1976. It’s located in Quilmes, outside Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was 23. He never planned on caring for a penguin. He planned on teaching and seeing South America - its people, its wildlife, its landmarks, its night sky constellations, its flora, its fauna. In fact, he does both! And in this book he articulately depicts his emotional and intellectual experiences. He must have been a marvelous teacher. He cared for those kids and he cared for Juan Salvador. He briefly fills in the history of the time. Rampant inflation and the beginning of the Dirty War. In March 1976 Isabel Péron was ousted by a right-wing coup d'état. A military junta was installed headed by General Jorge Rafael Videla.
The auiobook narration by Bill Nighy was expertly executed. You should hear him relate the college rugby matches or how Juan Salvador flies through the water. The lines sound just like the British school teacher the author was, but never stuffy. Couldn’t have been better. Perfect. ...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
Very good. I really enjoyed this book. Exciting, and it teaches you about Eva Péron, the facts and the myth surrounding her life and death. Why is sheVery good. I really enjoyed this book. Exciting, and it teaches you about Eva Péron, the facts and the myth surrounding her life and death. Why is she so loved by Argentine people? I find this much more interesting than all the books written about Argentina’s Dirty War (1976-1983), which followed. The book is based on true facts, or so we are told when the book begins.
Life on the pampas is described through some of the book’s characters. You see and experience Buenos Aires too. You travel to Italy and France and Spain and you feel how these places are all different. The details are right. It all feels real.
And what happens is exciting. I have to repeat that. This is a thriller, and even I completely understood what was going on! That alone is amazing. I will not shy away from political thrillers – at least those based on true facts – again. They don’t have to be confusing; this book proves that.
The audiobook narration by David de Vries is, however, so-so……. OK, his narration does get you excited and he in no way wrecks the story, but when he impersonates women, well, this could be improved! But there is another problem with the audiobook. It does NOT include the author’s note found in the paper version. This very much annoyed me. For this I am removing one star. I went onto Wiki to see what I could find: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eva_Per%...). Unfortunately this does not clarify all of the questions that arise as you read the book. I need to know to what extent (view spoiler)[the CIA played a role in what happened to Evita’s body after her death. I need to know if the information about the Swiss bank account is fact or fiction. Other questions remain too. Wiki says she really is buried in Buenos Aires’ La Recoleta Cemetery…. (hide spoiler)]
Had there been a good author’s note, I would have given the book four stars! I totally enjoyed what I learned and the action was so very exciting. I promise you, you will not regret reading this if you are interested in Eva Péron! When you have completed the book, do read the link above. I am glad I read this book by Gregory Widen rather than Santa Evita by Tomás Eloy Martínez. An explanation for this will also be found in the link above. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I highly recommend this book. All have heard of the icon Che Guevara (May 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967). This book shows you who he really was. His charI highly recommend this book. All have heard of the icon Che Guevara (May 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967). This book shows you who he really was. His character, his weaknesses and strengths, his life-philosophy and goals, all of this is covered in this book. It is meticulously researched and full of exclusive information, for example previously unavailable information gathered from his second wife. It follows his life chronologically through to his death. After his death, in the epilogue, the lives of his siblings, parents, children and wives are chronicled too. This book is comprehensive. His characteristics are exemplified through his deeds. You are not merely told that he is “a man of principle”, but you are shown how his deeds make him that. I admire Che Guevara and yet he went too far. At least in my opinion. He certainly wanted to help others. He certainly demanded high standards of others, but he demanded the same of himself.
This book is also about the ideals of socialism. It is about communism and how the Russian and Chinese diverge. It is about the guerrilla warfare. The book is about how these political ideologies spread in Latin America. You learn of how these ideologies played out in all of Latin America, not just in the country of his birth, Argentina, not just in Cuba, but in Nicaragua and Guatemala and Peru and Bolivia and Mexico. The history of all of Latin America from the 30s through the 60s is delineated. Why? Because he had a hand in much of it. You learn of the fight for socialism in the Congo too.
I am usually not interested in politics. But Che had such devotion to his principles that his enthusiasm spreads and you understand why he does what he does, even if it all goes too far in the end. The author made me understand how Che reasoned. And Che knew his own faults. You see in this book how people change and how they don’t change. How wonderful ideals can get all messed up.
I feel I know who Che Guevara is after reading this book. I learned a lot about Latin American history. Through his life I became very interested in this history. There are a lot of names and historical facts that will disappear from my head, but something will fasten.
I listened to an audiobook. The narration, by Armando Durán, was superb. He could read the facts with an appropriate tone. Equally well he made the reader understand Che’s emotions. Beware, this is a very long audiobook - 36 hours and 48 minutes! I found all of it compelling. To really know who Che is you must hear the details. These facts are not boring. The pronunciation of the Spanish names I found difficult to “spell out”. I couldn’t even see them because I had no book in front of me and they are pronounced fluently. Nevertheless I did remember most of who all these people were. Don’t ask me to write out their names because I cannot, but I did recognize who was who as I listened.
You must know that Che was really called Ernesto. Che means “you, there”! He used to say that all the time to others. That is why others started calling him that. He was trained as a doctor. When he was young he was not at all interested in politics. He had terrible asthma. Can you imagine fighting as a guerrilla with asthma in humid climates? These are just a smattering of some interesting tidbits.
No, I don’t believe in communism. No, I don’t believe in guerrilla warfare. I still admire Che Guevara. He is a fascinating person. If he didn’t know something, he set himself to learn it. I will put an end to this…..I cannot go on and on telling you about him. I highly recommend this book, but give yourself the time to read it properly. ...more
The Dirty War of Argentina (1975-1983), what dirty legacy has been left by this war on the Argentinian people? An answer to this question, through theThe Dirty War of Argentina (1975-1983), what dirty legacy has been left by this war on the Argentinian people? An answer to this question, through the distorted /skewed “writing lens” of magical realism, is what this novel offers you. Bizarrely enough, although the magical reality portrayed is nonsensical, you get an honest, a perceptive and a heart wrenching idea of the consequences of this war. I cannot say more without giving significant spoilers.
I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author. I believe a trained narrator would have done a better job. Dialog, verbal interplay between the characters, rings true; with that I have no complaint. I enjoyed the discordant, quick responses. However when the prose is philosophical, “deep” and full of portent, the tone becomes ludicrously slow and melodramatic. In these parts it feels like she wants to impress on the listener how important and significant these words are. Had the lines been read with less passion, I would have enjoyed them and thought the message was moving and noteworthy, in fact wonderful writing! I told myself to listen to the words, not her voice…… I tried re-listening to such sections and they improved. Maybe I am a picky listener, but tone and verbal inflection can change how you perceive the prose.
I do have some problems with this book. (view spoiler)[Although the reader gets a very moving understanding of how it would feel to be a child of one of the “disappeared”, how biological grandparents and other relatives were affected and the guilt that must shroud the non-biological parents’ behavior, the author completely avoids how the girl resolved her conflict with her non-biological parents! This is a total cop out in my view. We are told that in the future they might talk…..
You come to understand how the father is torn because he seems to really love his daughter. The mother’s feelings for her daughter are so cold, they are hard to comprehend. I am here speaking of the non-biological parents.
How would you feel if you found out one day your whole life was one of lies?
Maybe I had better back up and explain that during this war, those that opposed the views of the generals were removed. 30.000 were killed. Naked, drugged and tortured, they were dropped to their deaths from airplanes into the sea below. 500 children were taken from the “disappeared” and given to chosen adoptive parents supportive of the generals’ regime. (hide spoiler)]
I must add that if you need a story that sticks to strict reality, you may have a hard time reading this. I believe that the magical realism is so well executed that reality could be bent, and I usually cannot read fantastical stories!
Definitely worth reading, but I can only give it three stars because of the problems mentioned above in the spoiler. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Surprise! Surprise! What life throws at you cannot be understood. There is no logic or reason to what happens. At best, all you can do is try to accomSurprise! Surprise! What life throws at you cannot be understood. There is no logic or reason to what happens. At best, all you can do is try to accommodate yourself to the cards dealt you.
More specifically the book concerned one Jewish family and what happened to them during Argentina's Dirty Wars of the late 70s and early 80s. How do you deal with loss? What happens when husband and wife, who do/u> love each other, respond differently. Love does not necessarily mean two people react in the same manner. I particularly liked following this book as an audiobook. With an audiobook every sentence is read slowly, allowing the reader/listener to ponder both the obvious and more subtle meanings behind the words. Most every sentence in this novel could be interpreted on different levels - one level being the obvious event and the other the philosophical message. THIS is what I appreciated most with the book - not necessarily where the plot started and ended.
Rather than learning about the political details of the Dirty Wars, the reader learns how it felt to live through them. How was it for the ordinary people of Argentina.
And there is subtle humor: "Those people can't be bought with a cookie." or "They are all in the same boat. But they have no boat! They are all at the bottom of the river." (Sorry, I cannot give the page numbers, since this was an audiobook.)...more
Having finished the book, I have added a few comments at the end.....
I am reading The Tale of the Rose: The Love Story Behind The Little Prince, and opposite to all the negative reviews given here at GR, I like it. I like it A LOT!!!! I am shocked and dismayed and annoyed by what I read in the GR reviews! First of all, the prose is GOOD. People complain about the translation since Consuelo wrote it in French, yet she is originally Spanish speaking. I don't agree at all! What I will say is that these people who have written the reviews do not really love The Little Prince. Why? Because you recognize the similarity in prose style, in how Antoine and Consuelo thought. The prose is simple, plainspoken and full of naive thoughts, and yet it says so much. THAT is its charm.
"His (Antoine's) images had extraordinary charm, and there was a wild note of truth to even his most fantastical stories." (page 17)
And then the reviewers think Consuelo is weak and a doormat. Forget that! She loved Antoine and she KNEW what she was getting herself into when she chose marriage to him. She says:
"I was being offered the role of a wife in a play. Was I right for the part? Did I really want to play it?" (page 34)
She LOVED him. She chose to marry him. She was willing to take the bad with the good.
I am halfway through the book. I cannot keep my mouth shut any more. I assume Antoine is going to get even more mean and crazy and wound up in his own world. People with daring and imaginative qualities are NOT easy to live with, but a life with them brings marvelous experiences too! Life will be intense and never dull. I believe they fit each other.
Let me backtrack a bit and show you how they met, one evening at a party, and what they said to each other:
"I beg your pardon," Crémieux replied. "I forgot to introduce you. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, pilot and aviator. He'll show you Buenos Aires from above, and the stars too. You see, he adores the stars."
"I don't like to fly," I said. "I don't like things that go fast. I don't like seeing too many faces at once. And I want to leave." (the party)
"But faces have nothing to do with stars!" the dark-haired man (Antoine) cried.
"You think our heads are so distant from the star?"
"Oh," he exclaimed in surprise. "You have stars in your head, do you?
"I have yet to meet a man who has seen my true stars," I confessed with a touch of melancholy. "But we are talking nonsense. I told you. I don't like to fly. Even walking to fast makes my head spin." (page 13-14)
But were they talking nonsense? Do you see the similarity in this and The Little Prince?
I am going out on a limb b/c I haven't finished the book yet. I am just so darn annoyed about all the negative things said about the couple and the book. I thoroughly enjoy it. Jeez, I am annoyed!
You really get to know who these two people are, both Consuelo and Antoine. If you want a fairy tale, pick up a book by Grimm.
I like the prose style of this book. I like its simplicity. And I like and sometimes hate the characters. Yes, both. If The Little Prince speaks to you, you will love this book as I do. Antoine was one hell of a person to live with. To read and understand this book you must be willing to change your time-frame and not judge the people by modern standards. Women today think you are a doormat if you act as Consuelo did! Even Consuelo's friends could scarcely understand her love for a man who hurt her as no one else did. Antoine could not live with nor could he live without Consuelo. The same is true for Consuelo's feelings for her husband! This book should be read with The Little Prince.
P.S. If you are going to be driven crazy by Antoine's terrible behavior, if you are going to logically get frustrated by Consuelo's inability to protect herself, then maybe this book isn't for you. I think people are crazy and do illogical things. The middle road is oh so comfortable, but you miss out on a lot that life offers. ...more