This is a classic. It has not lost its validity. It has an important global message still today, 54 years after publication. Everyone should read thisThis is a classic. It has not lost its validity. It has an important global message still today, 54 years after publication. Everyone should read this at least once.
This reads as a horror story, but it is true.
-The scientific studies are numerous, clear and to the point. -The demise of habitats and living creatures are lyrically depicted. -The author expertly alternates between poetic expression and scientific accuracy. -Eloquent prose.
That’s the essential.
Carson shows through carefully identified and quantified examples the inherent danger of pesticides, that they not only do not work and that they have serious side effects. She goes one step further and identifies better alternatives - biotic controls.
Here is what I wish. I wish another author would follow up her analyses and describe how pesticides and herbicides are used today. Furthermore it would be interesting to know whether her suggestions concerning alternative methods have come to fruition.
The audiobook narration by Kaiulani Lee was superb! Perfect speed, perfect intonation and performed with a poetic lilt when the lines so demanded. Beautifully and masterfully performed. ...more
First of all let me state, I preferred Main Street. This was a disappointment even if it started out good.
I do like the clever lines filled with sardFirst of all let me state, I preferred Main Street. This was a disappointment even if it started out good.
I do like the clever lines filled with sardonic humor, but they wore thin after a while. You must listen carefully or you may not catch the implied criticism.
The book is too long, and it is repetitive. A message is delivered, but that message is said over and over again. The central focus is upon those in the medical profession. The author is stating that many are (view spoiler)[more interested in fame and fortune (hide spoiler)] than in either caring for their patient or, if they have chosen to do research, their quest for new knowledge. It is a question of where their heart lies. That is it; that is the message which is drilled in over and over again. One cutting remark is amusing, a few makes the author’s point clear, but over and over again it just becomes boring.
Martin Arowsmith wavers; he doesn't know where his real interest lies. Practitioner or research scientist? That is what he must decide. And the end? Well, I am certainly not going to tell you what he decides, but it takes him forever to figure out where his true interest lies.
I am one who wants realism. Most people do make compromises. We have ideals but rarely do we follow them absolutely through to the end. I felt the book portrayed characters as caricatures, too much as black versus white, good versus bad. I felt the book pushed the central question to an extreme.
The narration by John McDonough was superb. Perfect speed. You hear the humor. A total pleasure to listen to; it is not his fault I didn't appreciate the book's content.
It is interesting to note that Sinclair Lewis' parents and grandparents werephysicians.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Well, I can say one thing - I was about to dump this because it so pulled me apart. I felt I couldn't stand being so emotionally torHaving just begun:
Well, I can say one thing - I was about to dump this because it so pulled me apart. I felt I couldn't stand being so emotionally torn. Then it flipped and had me smiling and laughing. So of course I continue. This is what I want from a book. I want to feel and I want to think and I want to be happy and sad.
OK, now I have probably jinxed the book by saying I like it a lot....
I continued to enjoy this book to the very end, and I liked the ending. Happy? Sad? I am not going to say.
So what happens in this novel? A black woman just shy of 40 years returns to her homeland to discover that her mother has breast cancer. There is a lot to think about - relationships between daughter and mother and father and between spouses, adultery, race, colonialism and culture or what makes you drawn to a particular place. What makes a place feel safe? What makes home home? And of course illness and mortality. The book provides food for thought.
The reason why I liked the book so much was that the issues delved into were portrayed both realistically and with feeling. How is it that mothers and daughters constantly bicker and taunt and compete and challenge each other? Yet there is love too. Look what husbands and wives do to each other. The dialogs felt genuine. How is the line drawn between modesty, privacy and intimacy? Between independence, self-sufficiency and helping someone. The book is all about how we relate to other human beings, as part of a family, part of a community, as an immigrant in a new country or as an employer to an employee, across race, class and geographical boundaries.
I believe the book is set in Trinidad, although this is not stated. This is where the author is from and as the island is described it just had to be this Caribbean island, oil in the south and mountains in the north. Beautiful lines that capture emotions, behavior and scenery. Plants and colors and night skies and food and clothing. The lines read as prose poetry. And as I mentioned, great dialogs.
The author narrates her own book. Her tongue is from the island, and I liked this. She did pronounce the "th" sound, because Anna could do this. She is the main character, the Acquisition Editor at a publishing house in New York, a publishing house promoting people of color. That the word "her" is softened into "hur" simply adds a touch of authenticity to the story. You feel like you are on the island. Yes, very good narration and nice and slow. You can listen and think.
I recommend this book for its writing, for its character portrayal and for how it draws you in letting you think about what Anna is thinking about. Anna, where do you belong? ...more
By the end of the book my heart melted and I did feel empathy for Zelda. For Zelda, but not Scott. If the book is giving you trouble andOn Completion:
By the end of the book my heart melted and I did feel empathy for Zelda. For Zelda, but not Scott. If the book is giving you trouble and if what you are looking for is understanding of and empathy for the characters continue to the end.
Yet, I cannot give the book more than three stars. Why?
The first thing I did on completing the book was to search the web for more information about Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (1900—1948) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940). There are two camps - those who say Scott suppressed Zelda's creative abilities and those who claim that Zelda's mental health, or more correctly her lack thereof, was detrimental to Scott's writing career. Which is it? He suppressed her or she suppressed him. It depends on whom you talk to. This novel is written from Zelda's point of view; she is telling us her life story.
I don't think we will ever know the whole truth. My view? In any relationship fault is usually found on both sides. Scott and Zelda fit each other. They lived dizzying lives. Both sought a life that would put them in the center of high society. Along with that followed infidelity, boozing and bitter recriminations. Their daughter, Scottie, wrote after their deaths:
I think (short of documentary evidence to the contrary) that if people are not crazy, they get themselves out of crazy situations, so I have never been able to buy the notion that it was my father's drinking which led her to the sanitarium. Nor do I think she led him to the drinking. Wiki refers to Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald as its source.
Into which camp you fall will probably be influenced by how you view Hemingway. He was Zelda's enemy from day one. She absolutely detested the complicated friendship that grew up between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. She accused Hemingway of being a fairy! Hemingway!
The book accurately details the known events of Scott's and Zelda's life together. It concludes with the death of Scott, but an afterword fills in with facts about the remaining eight years of Zelda's life, her death and information about their daughter.
There is little humor in the book. You need a bit of that now and then. I have read very funny things about Scott. True details that will make you smile. They are not here in this book.
I wasn't engaged until far into the book. The dialogs and the writing didn’t move me. So much more could have been done through descriptions of the places they lived.
Jenna Lamia narrates the audiobook. Her accentuated Southern drawl fits the young, spoiled Zelda superbly. However her intonations for Scott and Hemingway are just so-so. Zelda matures a bit at the end. I don’t think this is well reflected in the intonation.
Well, at least the book improves by the end. It finally pulled me in. It gives one view of the conflicted relationship between Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
After 24 chapters:
I am about half way now.
I didn't give up, and I am glad I didn't. It is improving. Quite simply b/c I am beginning to get into the head of Zelda. I don't have to like her, I just have to understand her and understand the relationship between her and Scott.
I want to be fair in my judgment; it is wrong to just criticize and not praise when a book does improve.
After chapter 13: This is excruciatingly hard to read. It is that bad! It is terrible. Not only are the people more than despicable, the writing is deplorably bad.
- Empty dialogs. The yapping (i.e. the conversations), which should show us each individual's soul, is empty - No depth to the character portrayals. - Events are insufficiently depicted.....a trip to Europe (London, Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome) is done in a few lines. The first child is born, but never do you feel with depth the mother's or the father's emotions.
The audiobook narration by Jenna Lamia is, I guess, appropriate It fits the empty dialog.
What a bad start to the year. A total waste of time. I don't know if I can bear to continue.
I am sorry, I never believed this would be so bad. I just cannot keep my mouth shut any more.
How do you rate a book that both disappoints and at the very same time gives pleasure?
This book consists of one novella, having the same name as theHow do you rate a book that both disappoints and at the very same time gives pleasure?
This book consists of one novella, having the same name as the title of the book, and three short stories: 1. What Time Is It Now? Where Are You? 2. Sh'khol (A Hebrew word for 'loss of a child') 3. Treaty
I have read just about all of McCann's books. I love his lines. How he expresses himself. Pure poetry in my ears. He looks at people and things and events and captures their essence through just a few words. Compassion, guilt, fear and understanding in the turn of a phrase. He keeps you thinking. He keeps you glued to the pages. So what am I saying? I love his writing. However there is more to a novel, novella or short story than the phrasing, the strings of words. There is plot. There is character development. There is the message conveyed. There is the beginning and the end and do all the parts hold together properly? All of this has to be accomplished well. No easy task. For me, only the last story worked on all accounts.
Before I had read Treaty I was terribly upset. Why? Because if you think an author is fantastic, you expect them to deliver. I wanted more than just wonderful lines; I expected well-structured stories with intriguing messages. I do expect more from a good writer.
In the novella every chapter starts with a stanza from Wallace Stevens’ poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. I found the tie to the poem and the message of the novella to be weak. It is a mini-mystery. A murder? Manslaughter? Who did it and why? The characterizations are only skin deep. The ending leaves you totally up in the air, as does Sh'khol.
Sk'khol grabbed me at first. I felt the anxiety, the guilt and the main character's utter misery. Her deaf, mentally disabled adopted child had gone missing. She blamed herself. I would have too. Have you never bought clothes for your children to grow into... to save just a few dollars? Only here it was a neoprene swimsuit that shields the body from cold. But the ending was a huge let down. Not enough information is imparted. The ending is ridiculously abrupt. Again I was disappointed.
What Time Is It Now is about how an author writes a story, or at least how this author goes about it. This is interesting but you get only the rudiments of the process, an outline of a story, no character depth at all.
Then came the last story. It was perfect. In all ways. Wording, beginning and end. What a message! The last story is about a nun that was raped 37 years earlier and then one day she sees the rapist on TV. What does she do? What happens shows you who she is now and who the perpetrator had become - both the interior and exterior. What they showed the world and what they hid. So I was ready to forgive McCann. He delivered again, at least with one story.
There is an author's note at the end that speaks of how McCann was assaulted in 2014. What an author writes is always affected by their own life experiences. He acknowledges this. The topics covered in this book reflect his own inner turmoil, where he grew up (Ireland) and where he lives (NYC). The topics covered in the book are dark. There isn't much humor, but the author's note helps you understand the whole tone of the book.
The author narrates his own book. Parts were too quickly narrated. Parts were perfect. He didn't exaggerate; he let the lines come to the fore, which is just what I like. I like his soft tone. Pronunciation of foreign words was well done.
So three stars. I am glad I read the book, for the last story Treaty, and as usual I always love how this author puts together his words. There are little, little things like character names - Eileen because 'I lean' on Eileen. Or that sweat, no, not on the waitress but on the glass that she brought. Little things like this make me smile, make me think about how life really is. ...more
From this book you learn of amazing new developments in neurology. The brain is plastic. What this means in simple terms is that we can do things to cFrom this book you learn of amazing new developments in neurology. The brain is plastic. What this means in simple terms is that we can do things to change it. Plastic means mold-able. It was previously thought that the brain directed the body, but now we learn that the body too changes the brain. Neurons that before have been classified as dead and useless are not dead. This has huge implications for treatment of:
You follow specific people with the above health problems. Each is detailed and specific. Through these examples you lean of today’s cutting edge techniques. These people have what seem to be incurable, absolutely hopeless problems. Any adult of some age will be made uncomfortable following these individuals, regardless of the fact that their progress is utterly amazing. It isn't hard to imagine that such could happen to yourself. It is nice that the book focuses upon the most hopeful advances in our imminent future at the end of the book. It leaves you hopeful rather than depressed.
Seriously, it is important to read this book so you know of alternative methods that are being developed. The methods are holistic. Treatments shy away from medicines when possible. It is interesting to see how ancient Eastern treatments are being woven into new treatments and are validated by testing.
The techniques are clearly described, BUT one gets to a point where so much is thrown at you that you need to reread and absorb before you go on. I found myself following the text and even if I "understood", I would ask myself how exactly is that possible? The results are so astounding you step back and have a hard time believing. Even if it all makes sense. The section at the end on music therapy and the "electronic ear device" became diffuse in my head.
Doctors’ names are clearly stated. Also where they work. More information is said to be available at the author's home page: http://www.normandoidge.com/ I plan on seeking further information.
The audiobook is wonderfully narrated by George Newbern. Slowly and clearly. Even the appendices are read. They are also available as PDFs with the audiobook. However it is hard in an audiobook to backtrack to a particular chapter. Often it will be said, "as presented in chapter X." Going back to that is not easy. For this reason alone, I recommend the paper book.
There are some absolutely wonderful things ahead to be further investigated. If you run into any of the above problems do check out this book. The next problem is finding someone who can help you. That could be difficult. This is cutting-edge technology. ...more
Of interest to all seeking information about the Kennedy family and treatment of those with mental, psycholoConcise, well-researched and to the point!
Of interest to all seeking information about the Kennedy family and treatment of those with mental, psychological and physical disabilities in the US during the last century.
So much can be said about the Kennedy family and so much has been written. This book focuses only upon those aspects that are directly related to Rosemary Kennedy(1918-2005), the third of Joseph and Rose Kennedy's nine children. At delivery the midwife delayed birth until the doctor could arrive. This lead to mental, physical and psychological disabilities that with time became strikingly apparent in Rosemary.
The book covers how the parents dealt with the problem, who decided what and why and what actions were taken by the siblings. Although Rosemary was hidden publicly her existence shaped the entire Kennedy family.
The author does an excellent job of providing all relevant details, while at the same time eliminating those that are not necessary to the central focus on Rosemary and care of those with disabilities. Every event is supported with relevant historical, medical and scientific analysis. To understand what happened the reader must be made aware of historical family, political and medical facts. That the Kennedy family highly valued its Irish Catholic descent, the family's orientation toward career, fame and success, the strength of the Eugenic Movement in that era, scientific trends supporting lobotomies and educational trends all influenced the decisions made. I appreciated that the author indicated when the reliability of existing statements and documents should perhaps be questioned. Conflicting evidence is also provided.
The book doesn’t provide the internal thoughts of family members. We watch what they do, but actions say a lot. Deeds say more than words often.
The reader cannot help but consider guilt, not just who was at fault but how we behave if we feel ourselves to be at fault.
The audiobook is narrated by Bernadette Dunne. It is clear and easy to follow, except that at the beginning it is too speedy. She slows down after a while.
A very good book that doesn’t spread out in all different directions. Interesting, concise and moving. ...more
Before reading: I am reading this not because I want to but because I feel I ought to. Is it going to make me feel all horrible? I can accept this ifBefore reading: I am reading this not because I want to but because I feel I ought to. Is it going to make me feel all horrible? I can accept this if it constructively explains what you can do to "improve" the end of life.
In conclusion: I am glad I read the book, but it wasn’t particularly fun. There are many examples given of particular people, their illnesses and the difficulties they had, one being the author’s father. I didn’t understand all the medical terms used. Examples are given to illustrate the author’s conclusions on how medical care of the aging should be altered. The author, who is himself a surgeon, shows new, better alternatives and how they came to be. He does this by naming pioneers of better nursing homes, assisted care units and hospice development. For a person in the medical field I think this book is essential because it shows how medical changes need to be and can be implemented…., but I am not employed in the medical field and the historical developments, although interesting, were a bit extraneous for me. From my point of view, these sections could have been shortened, even if they do show the direction the author is supporting. One can ask, “Who is this book for?”
In my family we have had several deaths in the past years. So the weaknesses coupled to end of life medical care, nursing homes and hospices were not new to me. I didn’t have to be told; I was not surprised in the least.
What I wanted from this book were guidelines showing me how I could improve my husband’s and my own end of life. Did the book do this? Well, it made me face my own situation and what lay ahead. As a result of reading this book I will be looking into what alternatives are available here in Sweden when we are no longer able to manage alone. My husband and I have discussed exactly how we see the future. It has made clear to us that we value independence and that we want to stay where we are as long as possible – even if such living may be less safe than living near a hospital. We plan on looking in to Assisted Care Facilities that offer a gradual increase of care as needs increase. Do they have queues? Are they expensive? Where are they located? The essential point is that you have to know what you are looking for and that will be different for each family. So, yes, I am glad I read the book. It made me evaluate what is important to me – nature and independence and a dog and pretty landscape. The book pushed me to do this.
Another issue the book pushes you to evaluate is how long you want to extend the years of your life even if that time is filled with pain and discomfort. This too is a personal decision.
The book guides you in what sort of questions you should ask your doctor, but of course some questions are specific to the illness one is coping with.
Some conclusions are drawn that may be true for many, but not for my husband and I. Generally, most seem to want more contact with family as they age. This has its difficult sides too, and the book mentions this only briefly. I think more attention could have been devoted to this topic.
While funeral wishes are important to discuss at life’s end, I found it unnecessary that the author discussed the details of his father’s funeral in this book.
Practically nothing is said about how the elderly no longer want to travel. I may add that if you want to travel do it when you are young and fit. I am thankful to have traveled earlier in my life.
The book is primarily concerned with American facilities, and practically nothing is said about costs.
The audiobook is narrated by Robert Petkoff. It is read at a good speed. When good nursing facilities were being discussed he tended to sound SO enthused, SO exuberant. Really, I found this a bit childish. It doesn’t distort the text, but exaggerates how wonderful it all is. I could have done without this.
The book has made me more appreciative of what I have. It has pushed my husband and me to evaluate which qualities of life we deem most important. With a clearer understanding of our preferences we can more easily deal with what lies ahead. ...more
Where to start?! I don’t enjoy self-help books, so I was reluctant to try this. I am very, very glad I did. I want to begin by thanking the two CaroliWhere to start?! I don’t enjoy self-help books, so I was reluctant to try this. I am very, very glad I did. I want to begin by thanking the two Carolines that both told me how very good the book is. I think everyone should read it. I think you will be surprised by how much it contains, by how valuable its content is.
I am against self-help books because so very often they just do not REALLY help. We continue doing the same things we have always done. It is hard to change patterns. It is hard to change opinions. We are who we are. BUT there is so much in this book that I want people to open their eyes to, and to be made aware of. Reading this book helps you understand yourself and it brings attention to improvements that need to be made.
I can point out some advice given that particularly spoke to me – but there is so much information I cannot possibly mention all that should be remembered. And then I worry that if I mention one thing you will take that as an indication that that is the central thrust of the book, which is incorrect.
Still, here goes. People do not read instructions, and we should! Products should provide instructions that we can deal with, that aren’t so long that we just don’t have the energy to tackle them. So maybe you think you need not read them, the important parts will be explained to you by the people who have of course read them, for example the instructions for medical appliances will have been read by your doctor and your nurse. You can always ask them. Right? NO! Even those that you assume are adequately informed are not. I will give a personal experience. When I got my insulin pump I read the guide book from start to finish. I discovered that how the temporary basal rate is rounded off makes it totally impossible to use, if the amount of insulin taken is small. Now, you assume that the doctors know this. You assume that they have read that manual very carefully. My adviser told me my pump was used on the children’s wards where insulin quantities are small, so I need not worry; THEY used it, so of course I could too. After many discussions with the pump manufacturer I had finally shown them the truth of what I had claimed. You would think hospital personnel would know this, although maybe not in the adult ward where people take larger quantities of insulin. It was also being incorrectly used in the children’s wards. I am not trying to prove that I was right but rather to show that NOBODY reads instructions, and they contain valuable information. The book speaks of errors that are made in hospitals that could / should be corrected. People should read this book. We have to be informed so we can make proper decisions. Institutions have to be altered so fewer errors are made. Companies must package their products in a manner that reduces errors. There are many ways by which errors can be reduced, not just in health care but in aviation and cars too. We have to be informed of the dangers that exist. This book is important in this respect, and I had to give a personal example to show why.
The book gives examples so the lessons hit home. Scientific studies have been conducted that prove what is being stated. They are fully noted and documented. The extent to which we don’t see what is right smack before our eyes will surprise you. Our behavior will surprise you.
The book even talks about happiness, showing us maybe how we can become happier. All I can say is that many things are said that struck a chord within me. Here are a few points to consider: -Little things matter. -When a choice must be made, don’t forget to consider what can go wrong. Play the devil’s advocate, not always, but sometimes. -Take the time to enjoy what is out there. -Happiness and sleep combat errors.
I questioned some of the statements made. Averages and percentages are used to show how we behave. I wish that the variation in the figures had also been specified. To what extent do the averages vary? We are repeatedly told that we think we are smarter than we are, but then comes a chapter that shows how men and women differ in their behavior. Women less often overestimate themselves. I wish more of the experiments had been divided up into female and male components to see how they varied. Why are we told over and over again that “we” overestimate ourselves when it is in fact men that tend to do this?
I found this book extremely difficult to follow in the audiobook format. I had to rewind very many times. The narrator (Marc Cashman) spoke clearly, but too quickly. You need time to think, to absorb and evaluate the material. I have also been told that the paper book has charts and diagrams that aid comprehension. Even if the narration had been slower, the book’s content is more suitable in the paper format. You need space to think about your own behavior and to consider how you want to alter it. By being aware of the mistakes we make, we can more easily avoid them.
In summary I want to recommend this book for two reasons. One, it brings out in the open changes that must take place in public institutions and companies. There is an ongoing need for reform. Secondly it shows through examples how we individuals make mistakes. In so doing it helps us find ways to counteract and diminish the number of errors made.
On completion: I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I chose to read this book. I cannot think of another book ever being this emotionallyOn completion: I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I chose to read this book. I cannot think of another book ever being this emotionally draining. I am not exaggerating. Any author that can make fictional characters so real, as they are drawn here, well such writing is a masterpiece. The writing is painful. Why? Because you come to care deeply for several of the main characters. One is a victim of horrible abuse as a child. You come to care not just for him but also for those involved with him. The book is about friendship and love. Friendship? I don't know, that word is too weak to use here. Let's say instead different kinds of love relationships. That is what the book is about and about how love is coupled to pain. Themes are abuse, love, gender, sexuality, architecture, literature, art, fame and acting. About all of life really – about our college years, aging, illness. About relationships. About how we hurt each other, even those we love. Maybe we hurt them most. There is humor. There is beauty. And again, there is such love.
What I felt halfway through the book continued to the very end.
Let me be upfront. Jude loves Willem, and Willem loves Jude. I have never read any book ever where the deep love between two men is so well portrayed. This is just one of the love relationship so intimately portrayed. There is also parental love, and there is the love between long-time friends.
I can name a few aspects of the book that trouble me, but they do seem rather insignificant, given the strength of the writing. - That Jude as a corporate litigator could be so successful and have such deep emotional scars, seems a bit improbable. - The women in the book are, well, scarcely memorable. None of them. I just find this a bit strange. Every other aspect of the book is so well detailed, so superbly drawn. - I will be honest, I could scarcely continue at points, the book was just too emotionally devastating. - Finally...... what happens to Jude is so terrible that one can wonder if it is feasible. Not one good think occurred in the entire first fifteen years of his life. These events are revealed as flashbacks, which are not hard to follow. Had they been told chronologically, it would have been quite simply too much to cope with for the reader. What about Jude who lived them?!
I recommend this book highly to anyone working with the mentally disturbed. What hits home most profoundly is how we come to understand Jude, his pain, his fears and how his experiences shaped him.
I LOVED the houses in this book! I mentioned above that one of the topics covered is architecture. And art and photography and painting and, oh heavens, I will have to stop. It is just that the details are so perfect. Did I say the book was well written? It certainly is!
I cannot do this book justice really. You cannot understand what I am trying to say unless you read the book, but I am warning you it is an exceedingly difficult book to read.
A word about the narration of the audiobook: Oliver Wyman's narration is stupendous. It couldn't have been improved upon. His voice quavers, and you will cry with him. It is so very movingly told. Absolutely perfect. I say, listen to this book. Don’t read it.
After completing Part IV, chapter one (more than half remains):
-Intelligently written and emotionally draining.
-The all-consuming sincerity of the emotions evoked by the writing engulf me.
-The details on art, legal practices, architecture, abuse and medical topics astound me. How does the author know all these fields so well?
Sure, I can make some complaints but they are so petty given the strength of the writing.
The audiobook narration by Oliver Wyman is superb. ...more
I definitely like this book, but its main thrust is not even alluded to in the book description! One of the two main characters is both a world chessI definitely like this book, but its main thrust is not even alluded to in the book description! One of the two main characters is both a world chess champion and a Russian political activist. This character is Aleksandr. He hates Putin. The most interesting part about this story is that Aleksandr is modeled on a real person, Gary Kasparov! His name should have been mentioned in an author’s note. The philosophical question of how or why or even if one should try to battle against a lost cause was for me a peripheral theme, even if that is why I picked the book. I doubt that your thoughts on this topic will be changed after reading the book.
The central theme, and that which should determine if you want to read this book or not, is your interest in political dissent in Russia from 1979-2008.
The similarities between Aleksandr and Gary Kasparov are outstanding. If you want to be surprised about how the events roll out, don't look at Wiki until after you have completed the book. In this respect, little is fictional.
There is a second central character, Irina Ellison. She is fictional. It is her story that connects to the philosophical question of fighting against lost causes. Her father died of Huntington's disease. A medical test has shown that she will begin to exhibit the disease by the age of 32. She is 31. Her emotional response to this information is intertwined with Aleksandr's, he too hasn't a chance of becoming a political opponent to Putin. Should he give up? Should she give up? What exactly do you do with the knowledge of impending doom? The dilemma is brought up in other ways too. Can a chess player win against a computer game? It is all very fine to intellectually analyze how one would react, but how will you REALLY feel. The book does an excellent job of making you feel, not just how you might think. These are two different things. There are however long sections of the novel that have little to do with this theme; if the Russian events are going to bore you, then I would not choose this book. I found the review of historical events reported in the news over the last decades interesting. You will recall many events.
The story is told through two first person narratives - Irina's in 2006 and Aleksandr's, beginning in 1979 and continuing till 2007, when the two stories intertwine. In the audiobook two different narrators are employed. Irina's narrator is Kathe Mazur. Aleksandr's is Stephen Hoye. I really enjoyed Mazur's narration. It is contemplative and slow. She is thinking. She quietly reflects on her emotions. And in fact there is humor in these lines. I did not enjoy Stephen Hoye's narration. In fact I had to force myself to pay attention to the author's words because I so disliked the intonation employed. It is has an insinuating, ingratiating tone throughout. Pleading, whiny, downright disagreeable. When I succeeded to turn of the sound and just listened to the lines themselves, I enjoyed the novel much, much more. Then I would slip back and get annoyed again. I do not believe that the author’s words warranted such a tone.
To enjoy this book you must be interested in the political events occurring in Russia since the 80s. ...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.
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.