I would recommend this book to those of you who -want to try Mario Puzo, but don't know which of his books to start with. -are interested in Italian immI would recommend this book to those of you who -want to try Mario Puzo, but don't know which of his books to start with. -are interested in Italian immigrant life during the Depression. -like books about complicated family relationships.
In the introduction to the book we are told that it is this book that the author himself thought was his best. It is about his mother. He wrote The Godfather later. That one he wrote to be “a bestseller”; he had to support his family.
The book follows one Italian immigrant family through the Depression up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. They live in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, home to the poor and working-class Italian and Irish American immigrants. The language is crude and life is tough; you are happy if you simply survive. The mother, the star role of the family does survive. Just surviving makes her worthy of the title "the fortunate pilgrim", the book's title. Happy? Not necessarily. She has two husbands and six children. There are three deaths. By the book's end you know the six children. I particularly liked how the personalities of the six children were so different. You follow them to adulthood. By the book's end I felt empathy for the mother too. She was such a strong, determined woman that it wasn't until the end that I felt she needed my sympathy. Then what happens hits home. I need to feel empathy for the characters in a story. Not in the middle, but only by the book's end, did I feel such empathy. The life of this family felt genuine through and through, and moments of sunlight are shown too.
You cannot read a book about Italians that skirts the issue of the Mafia. Why is it so hard not to fall into the trap of the Mafia? One of the sons succumbs. Why? How? You understand because you understand the life of the mother and her six kids and that help was not available from legal venues.
I enjoy immigrant stories where the characters feel they are making something of their lives by moving rather than bemoaning what they have lost.
A word of warning: the language is filthy...but genuine. Do you want it cleaned up for your ears? Then you better pick another book.
I really disliked the narration of the audiobook by John Kenneth. Over-dramatized. Too emotional. His Italian accent made it difficult for me to hear the name of the person speaking. ...more
What has happened to me? I started this book extremely annoyed and ended up liking it. Why? Why? Why? I don't quite know. I have to think........
By thWhat has happened to me? I started this book extremely annoyed and ended up liking it. Why? Why? Why? I don't quite know. I have to think........
By the book's end I know the central characters. Who are they? Let me start here. The book follows three women. First there is Virginia Woolf. She is recovering from headaches, terrible headaches. She is and was manic-depressive. The date of this thread is 1923 and Virginia is cared for, watched over or you might say even repressively ordered around by her dear husband who is doing all he can to help her recover. They live outside London, in the suburb Richmond. She is planning / contemplating her next novel: Mrs. Dalloway. Then there is Clarissa in modern day NYC. She is lesbian, living with Sally, but at the same time she always loved Richard, coupled with Louis, dying of AIDS. The third thread follows Laura Brown, living in Los Angeles after the Second World War, 1949. She is happily married with a considerate husband and a devoted child of three. But IS everything so hunky-dory? You flip between these three threads, which is confusing until you begin to know the different characters and places and so can immediately place where you are. There are other confusing elements. Clarissa is in fact called Mrs. Dalloway by Richard. As you proceed you recognize that different sections are entitled with one of the women's names. This is probably harder on the audiobook than in the written book.
All three threads are interconnected. All three threads depict a woman trying to escape. All three threads are about women trying to figure out how exactly they want to live their lives. All three threads are about feminism and homosexuality and suicide and death. They are all the events of just one single day, and that is also how Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf's book, is written. So you start thinking... You start comparing. Do you know Mrs. Dalloway was originally written with the ending that she committed suicide, but not in the published book!
I am sometimes uncomfortable reading lgtb literature. Is that so strange? I am heterosexual. I am glad I read this book. I just want to be upfront about this. Others may worry about this aspect too.
Here is why my view on the book changed. By the book's end I KNEW all of the central characters. I could relate to them. They felt real. I could understand what they did and why. Virginia Woolf was portrayed in such a manner that I felt Cunningham stuck to her real character and made her emotions and feelings and thoughts and ambivalences more clear. She felt genuine, not fictive. I learned more about her through reading this book. Laura, she was consistent. Different, but just as genuine. I even warmed to Clarissa who for me, by the book's end wonderfully exhibited the inner strength of women. Men and women have different strengths.
I liked this book. It kept me thinking.
It wasn’t until the end that I realized my view had changed, from negative to positive. I am terribly impressed by the author’s ability to tie together the different threads. At the same time I am not quite sure if that is a plus or a minus; should a book be so neatly constructed? Life isn’t so neat.
I still prefer Virginia Woolf’s writing to Michael Cunningham’s. …and I kind of think he stole her book! In a way. Sort of. Or you can reason he created something new from her original idea.
Even my view of the author's own narration of the audiobook changed. His tone in Clarissa's thread wonderfully captures the gay world of NYC. The language used in the different threads is modified. That is good; people do not express themselves today as one did in 1949 or 1923. You don't hear a difference in the narrative tone though, and this could be considered a weakness.
Who would have known that a book that started so badly for me would turn out so good?!
After two and 1/2 hours of a 6 hour and 15 minute long audiobook:
Does it have to be so hard to understand the story? I want a story, not a puzzle. I don't like being confused. I have even given up taking notes.
I will continue but boy, I certainly hope this improves.
AND authors are not often capable of narrating their own books. Get someone trained for the task.
This book has put me in a horrible mood. What? Am I nuts? It won a Pulitzer.
Too complicated. Too unclear. It is pretty meaningless to say that life is totally subjective.
I like Boyd's language.... even in this book. I like howToo complicated. Too unclear. It is pretty meaningless to say that life is totally subjective.
I like Boyd's language.... even in this book. I like how he creates people that draw your interest and how he throws in history and details about literature and music and tons of other topics too. These details are fascinating. But a book is also the story that is being told and the message that is being conveyed. Both completely failed me in this book. You get a very complicated spy story that is impossible to solve; and maybe the point is you are not even supposed to try. The ending is totally dissatisfying. This has nothing to do with needing a tight ending.
Narration by Roger May is fine. In fact the conversations between French, German and English speaking people are quite amusing, wonderfully delivered....more
I don't know what is so special with this book. I don't know why everyone is praising it. I found the writing disconnected, not beautiful, not specialI don't know what is so special with this book. I don't know why everyone is praising it. I found the writing disconnected, not beautiful, not special at all. I didn't connect to the main character or any other character. A totally blah book.
I have nothing to praise or criticize about the audiobook's narration by Will Patton....more
I see no need in repeating what is stated in the book description.
On completing this book I knew immediately why I liked this book so much. Two reasoI see no need in repeating what is stated in the book description.
On completing this book I knew immediately why I liked this book so much. Two reasons, the first, the most important, being that the author captures how people think and talk and relate to each other. Time after time I felt that the relationship between the Lesters, Elise and Herbie, was so realistically drawn that the author must have understood them. They are people that really existed, as well as the first family followed in the book. Neither is fictional. Don't you ever look at a person and only because you know that person well can you understand why they act, say or do what they do? What that person does seems so foreign to your own way of thinking, but you do understand. It is in this manner you look at these characters. This is not the only relationship that is so perceptively portrayed; many relationships were pitch-perfect in their accuracy.
The second reason I liked the book is how the author never distorted the facts. Every single historical or geographical element and character that I checked was correct. I found myself both looking up the island San Miguel and the central characters. They are all true. The book centers around two different couples that lived on San Miguel, the first in the 1880s and the second during the 1930s. San Miguel is one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. I like historical fiction that teaches me history AND has characters that live and breathe. This book has both. The island, its history and geography, its flora and fauna and weather is interesting. The people that lived there are equally interesting.
The language isn't lyrical, but it describes events in a manner that is exciting and gets you thinking.
What did I think about besides relationships? I thought about how different the island was perceived by the two different families that lived there. I think this leaves an important message. Our personal attitude shapes events, but also that no two people will ever see things similarly. None of us have the same health problems or past experiences, and we are all born different. You cannot help but compare the two families.
I bet socially oriented people will be more moved by the first family's experiences, while people like me who instinctively love the thought of living alone on an island will understand the second family more easily. In that these two families were real, many factors complicated their lives.
I liked that what happens to Edith Alice Scott Waters/Inez Dean, from the first story, is clarified in the second story. I like the connection between the two. There is more that I liked. I liked the compassion Herbie Lester felt for animals.
Barbara Caruso ‘s narration of the audiobook was wonderful. Zero complaints.
All too few books about WW2 focus upon how the war impacted upon ordinary Germans. The central focus is instead on those discriminated against or theAll too few books about WW2 focus upon how the war impacted upon ordinary Germans. The central focus is instead on those discriminated against or the partisans, collaborators, spies, i.e. the people NOT like you or I. Here is a book that focuses on the anonymous, unsung participants of the war. Each one of us plays a role, has an effect, and leaves traces. I recommend this book because it speaks of the ordinary people's impact on history. And I am not talking about Hilde's dance with Erwin Rommel. For me, Rommel’s name was put in the title to flag our attention.
Historical events are mentioned so you can follow the flow of the war, but these are not the central point of the book. Instead the author is presenting here, in the guise of a book of historical fiction, the life of her mother Hilde, a German living in East Prussia, close to the then Polish border. Later she moves to Berlin, the Harz Mountains and Hildesheim. She marries and has five children. This is about her life before and through the war years. It is about her family and friends. Her husband, Karl, is a an officer in the German Army serving under the famed German field marshal Erwin Rommel, but it is Hilde who must remain in war-torn Germany. It is her life that is the central focus of this book. The book includes only a smattering of facts about Rommel, where he fought and his death by “suicide”, linked to the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. The book begins with the “suicide” and then jumps back in time. This may be confusing if you are not already aware of the facts surrounding his death; a bit more detail is added later. I wanted more about Rommel! He is known for his skillful command of desert warfare in the North African Campaign. He is regarded not only as a skilled commander but also a humane one. “He ignored orders to kill Jewish soldiers, civilians and captured commandos.” That is from Wiki; I had to know more since the book gave so little.
The author insists this is a book of historical fiction. So what is fact and what is fiction? There is no author’s note at the end to give clarification. Some of the time flips are confusing. (view spoiler)[ There is an episode in the beginning referring to a beer bottle used as a hot water bottle, followed by a bloody bath scene. What is all that about? Is a miscarriage hinted at? Is a love relationship hinted at? (hide spoiler)] Is this to increase suspense? Is this fact or is it fiction?
There is little humor. All books are improved by humor.
One word about the audiobook narration by Nancy Peterson: lovely! She sounds like Marlene Dietrich. One sees Hilde as a sweet, kind, loving, considerate person. I think she was, and I am referring to the author’s mother, not the fictional character. Actually I would have appreciated a teeny bit more about her shortcomings. Her behavior after the war, after the fifth birth when she totally let her house fall apart, did make her more real to me. I need to know not only about a person’s good characteristics but also the less admirable ones. This makes them human.
What this book does VERY well is show the life of an ordinary German mother during the war. That is reason enough to read this book, and I recommend it.
The first half of the story is really, really good, but the second half doesn't quite ring true.
Nevertheless, the book isn't bad. I think it is improThe first half of the story is really, really good, but the second half doesn't quite ring true.
Nevertheless, the book isn't bad. I think it is improved by listening to rather than reading it. The narration by Anna Fields improves the book. The lines themselves are worth spending time on. Fields reads these lines with strength, clearly and strongly and slowly. You have time to think about what is being said. Secondly, through the narration the different characters' personalities come through distinctly; you comprehend from the voices used as you hear the different characters speak, who they are. You laugh even when some of the things stated are so ridiculously naive and wrong - because you so completely comprehend the character's personality. Through the expert narration you both pay attention to the lines and recognize the different personalities of the characters.
Maybe I should mention - this book is told to us by Lidie herself, so it has first person narration.
I have yet to even discuss the topic that is so worth our attention! The book is about the civil war in Kansas during 1855 through 1856, before the REAL American Civil War from 1861-1865, just a few years later. What you think about is civil wars in general and slavery. Nothing is cut and dry; nothing is simple. If you prohibit slavery, what then? You free the slaves, what then? Do you leave them to fend for themselves? What I really liked about this book is that different sides of each question are looked at closely, so you see the pros and cons, the arguments thrown back and forth by both sides. The civil war in Kansas was not only a matter of its being a slave state or a "Free-State" prohibiting slavery; it also concerned when and how and if it should become part of the United States of America. First it was only a Territory, nicknamed K.T., the Kansas Territory! I knew very little about the specifics of this earlier war. Even if you have read about the Civil War per se, this book has a different angle, i.e. the events as they played out in Lawrence, Kansas, and neighboring Missouri a few years earlier. You learn about these events through the life of a strong pioneer woman who lived through it. Yes, she is imaginary, but it doesn't feel that way. She tells you of her own experiences, what she thought and felt. One thing happens half way through the book. As I stated earlier, this didn't ring true for me. (view spoiler)[ She cuts off her hair, disguises herself as a boy and runs off to Missouri to catch those who had killed her beloved horse and murdered her husband! (hide spoiler)] But the ending is good. It is not sugar-coated. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I have nothing against love affairs and romance in books, but then I, the reader, have to feel and experience at least an inkling of that love felt byI have nothing against love affairs and romance in books, but then I, the reader, have to feel and experience at least an inkling of that love felt by the characters.
I must point out that the copy I read, the only Kindle version available to me in Europe, has ISBN number 978 0 307 789716. Unfortunately it was NOT translated by the talented Tiina Nunnally. Don't expect wonderful prose. Probably Tiina Nunnally has succeeded ; choose her translation instead.
You do perhaps get a feel for the era.
I read through Part 2, chapter 6, i.e. half of the book. ...more
A one star means you don't like the book. This book is not just bad; it is terrible.
It is confusing. Sure you will understand what happens, but is thA one star means you don't like the book. This book is not just bad; it is terrible.
It is confusing. Sure you will understand what happens, but is that why you read a book, to know step by step what happens? You are lucky if you understand how all the characters are related. You will need this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As_I_Lay...
The characters - white trash. Even if you initially try to understand each character's personality, by the end you realize understanding these people is not worth your effort.
There are a few well written lines, but these lines just would NOT be in the head or in the speech of those who think or say them.
I thought the audiobook would be a good alternative, there being a lack of punctuation. There are four narrators, but don't think that a given narrator will always narrate the same character. Listen to me, figuring out who is talking and who has this thought or that is EXTREMELY difficult even with the aid of different narrators.
So somebody clue me in, what is the important message of this book?
I don't recommend this book to anybody. It is a total waste of time. I have totally given up on Faulkner. NEVER again another book by Faulkner.
Remember for me a three star book IS definitely worth reading.
I know Hemingway is not for everyone, but I like his writing style. I don't read his boRemember for me a three star book IS definitely worth reading.
I know Hemingway is not for everyone, but I like his writing style. I don't read his books for plot; I read them for the lines, for his ability to express complicated things simply and for his ability to capture the inherent differences between the sexes. Differences there are.
There are two principle characters in this novel - Colonel Richard Cantwell and his lover Renata. He is fifty-one. She is nineteen. He is masculine. He is brusque, downright rude, and could quite simply be viewed as a bastard. But is he? Well, I like him. You see Hemingway goes beneath the surface of what is immediately visible and gives you more. I like Renata too. She is the feminine... and smart and curious and willing to do what is not done.
What is good about this book is NOT the plot, because that is practically non-existent! It is a character study. It is an essay on death and how each of us deals with it. And the choices we make. It is also about the folly of war. It is about hunting and food and fishing and ....about the world around us if we just bother to look. Hemingway expresses so simply what is before our eyes and that which we often don't see. OK, the Colonel goes duck hunting, but there is much more to hunting than just killing birds. (Why must people hunt; why can't people instead shoot with their cameras?) Still, Hemingway opens our eyes to the beauty of the land and the birds and the air and that is enough for me.
And there is humor.
Either you like Hemingway or you don't. I certainly do NOT like all his books. A number I have in fact given ONE star, which means I found them totally terrible. I have tried to explain what I see in Hemingway's writing.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Boyd Gaines. I got a kick out of how the word colonel sounds like "co-lo-nel" in Italian.
I don't think the magic of Venice comes through in this book. What comes through is the feel of a duck-blind and of infantry combat....of love and lost youth. You have to pay attention; there are many flashbacks. If you don't pay attention you will find yourself asking, "Which war is being referred to?! WW1 or WW2, the Spanish Civil War or....."
This was the last novel completed before Hemingway’s death. ...more