I certainly did like this book, and yet I have an easier time pointing at things that should make me dislike it. That is not the case; I most definite...moreI certainly did like this book, and yet I have an easier time pointing at things that should make me dislike it. That is not the case; I most definitely liked it.
This is a book that presents an ideology. That is what makes it interesting. Individualism versus collective aspirations/altruism. Egotism versus the social good for many. Every word has side connotations; every word choice needs to be analyzed / discussed to reach a balanced and a fair evaluation of what is the ideal. Ayn Rand is here presenting her view of the ideal man. In the end there quite simply are those who are more individualists and those who work best in groups. I belong to the former group, and so this book was inspirational to me.
Did you know that Greenspan adored Ayn Rand?
Here come the negative aspects of the book that should have, but didn't, make me dislike it. The book is not realistic. The characters are too simplified; their personality traits are exaggerated. In this book you can point to the different characters and each one stands for a certain kind of person. One is only concerned with what others think of him – (Peter Keating, whom I absolutely detested). He is not the most evil, but I detested him most. Still I wanted him there in the book. Honestly, there truly are people like this; every time he spoke or did something he reminded me of a person I know! And here I could laugh at him. And then there is Howard Roark - he is the individualist and my hero. OK, maybe he is too good to be true, but I loved him anyhow. Dominique Francon, she threw me totally. I spent hours trying to figure her out. (Did I mention this book is very long; the audiobook lasts for 32 hours!) She is not realistic..... but by the end I wouldn't say there couldn't exist such a person. You simply have to see what she does at the end. All these characters, and there are more, balance each other and keep you wondering - how will this ever end?! Will it come to a slow fizzle or an explosion?
The book is set in the 1920s and 30s in NYC. It was first published in 1943, but the trends prevailing certainly existed for a decade or two longer! It reminded me of the 1950s. The role of media and journalism was as relevant then as it is today. However historical events are barely mentioned, the Depression is covered in only a line or two, and this is a book about the building industry, very much affected by depressed economic conditions of that era! Roark was an architect. Although the book perfectly depicts NYC at this time and place it does not cover international world events. Again, this just didn't bother me!
There isn't much humor, and that which is employed is satirical in tone. You laugh at the antics of people, not the kind of humor that usually appeals to me. I was just too darned interested in figuring out the whys and hows and what was going to happen to care!
Sometimes the text gets kind of preachy; the author is expounding her views. This is a book about ideology. Either it speaks to you or it doesn't. It is just that simple.
The narration by Christopher Hurt gets five stars. I LOVED the voices he used for Peter (he made me cringe with displeasure), for Peter's mother (oh my, dear little Petey), for Howard (my hero) and for Ellsworth Toohey (he is bad but sounds so suave and good....and that is just how he should sound). You most often recognized who is speaking just from the tone employed.
I need to add one more thing. There are good AND evil individualists. In real life, nothing is simple. The ideology presented is interesting, and the mix of characters makes you curious to see how the story will end, and what does that say about the ideology itself? (less)
This book IS amazing, but that doesn't mean I loved it.
Nabokov is a word magician, and he has such imagination. His words and his imagination merge to...moreThis book IS amazing, but that doesn't mean I loved it.
Nabokov is a word magician, and he has such imagination. His words and his imagination merge to become an object d'art filled with originality and humor, concluding in an amusing commentary on literary critique, which I totally support.
So why do I feel the book was merely OK?
Line after line of humor is hard to take. Do you sit and read a joke book? I don’t. Or maybe this book is better if read it in small portions, not as a novel but as a conglomeration of wonderfully expressed thoughts and great lines of satirical humor. Some of the lines ARE priceless. In a novel there should also be an engaging plot. So let’s look at this novel’s plot
There are two main characters. There is an author-poet, John Shade, and then there is Charles Kinbote. John has written a poem and Charles, on John's death, is editing and compiling notes on said poem. It is just that Charles has a different story to tell and he wants it told. His literary critique of the poem twists Shade’s work beyond recognition. Nabokov is known for his unreliable narrators. Clearly, Charles is here the unreliable narrator. Of course, neither John Shade nor Charles Kinbote ever existed. The author of both Shade's poem and Charles' commentary on the poem, which becomes a whole different story about Charles’ beloved kingdom Zembla, is none other than Nabokov!
My problem with the book is Charles’ story. His story is confused; his lines tedious. He is not a good story teller. The country and the events he is describing are imaginary. His imaginary country never became tantalizing. There is no real country with real traditions and customs and history to learn about. The numerous fictional characters and events became a jumble in my head. I couldn't have cared less about Charles’ story!
I thought when I began the book that I would have difficulty reading a poem, but that was no problem at all! Shade's poem is simple reading. You forget that it is even a poem. It reads as a story that just happens to rhyme. Unfortunately it comprises only a very small portion of the book.
The audiobook presentation is not difficult to follow. You do not have to switch back to the poem as you follow Charles' commentaries; as I explained, Charles has a different story to tell. The audiobook has two narrators, one for John Shade and his poem (Robert Blumenfeld) and another for Charles Kinbote(Marc Vietor). It is Marc Vietor who reads the larger part. Both narrators do their parts well; they further personify the respective character’s personality. The book ends with the reading of the index!!! I have never read an index from start to finish. Have you? Do you want to? It is kind of funny though because the numerous references to Charles show clearly who the book is really about.
The book has some beautiful lines, some satirically funny lines and a message I totally agree with, but neither of the two main stories captured my interest! (less)
I enjoyed every minute spent listening to this audiobook. I laughed and laughed and laughed. Pay attention - I have put it on my humorous shelf. The o...moreI enjoyed every minute spent listening to this audiobook. I laughed and laughed and laughed. Pay attention - I have put it on my humorous shelf. The only reason it doesn't get five stars is that it was too short.......I like long books. I didn’t want it to end. I want more and more and more.
So who will love this book? People who love Holly will love this book. So who IS Holly? Now that is the central theme of the whole book so I can only tell you a bit. Holly is a free spirit. The Holly we know is the "Holly of NYC", during the war years, primarily 1943. I have lived in NYC, but later in the 50s and early 60s. Nevertheless the people in this tale are people that breathe of NYC. What they say and how they joke and what they do, well it all felt pitch-perfect. i felt right at home. Yes, my kind of humor and my kind of people. If felt like these are the people that were the "pre-Hippie people”, the people that later became the Hippies and that is to say my younger self. Anyhow, if you love NYC, and there is a special kind of person that is the New Yorker, then your chances of loving this book are exponentially higher.
One hint - pay attention to the beginning because the story starts at the end, after the main time period of the book. Remember the beginning. Who is Holly? What kind of person is she? I love Holly. What if I say she is a REAL phony, that is taken directly from the book! Now what can that mean? Well, read the book and find out.
OMG, what lines!!! Ttaste these, even if you probably cannot swallow them with so little background:
- "José was too prim to be my guy ideal." - Holly likes honesty, but not "law-type" honesty. - If you don't even like looking at the guy, you're gonna be "a cold plate of macaroni".
You see I simply cannot show you how funny this is.
Oh, and don't read this, listen to the audiobook narration by Michael C. Hall. Absolutely superb.
One more thing. I never saw the movie and I cannot possibly envision Holly as Audrey Hepburn. How did they pick her for Holly?! I guess it was good but very hard to imagine.
My explosion while reading the book: I cannot stop laughing.
And the audiobook narration by Michael C. Hall is fantastic. You have to hear Holly and Joe and the fake "Fred" and all the rest. The voices fit the lines and each character's personality. (less)
I did not like this at all. I decided to dump it after struggling through four of the nine hour audiobook narrated by Francis Jeater. The narration wa...moreI did not like this at all. I decided to dump it after struggling through four of the nine hour audiobook narrated by Francis Jeater. The narration was fine; it was the lines of the book that disappointed.
I have read other books by Virginia Woolf and enjoyed them.
In this book I felt nothing for any of the characters. As in the other novels the reader is in the heads of the various characters. Here there are numerous characters and it is extremely difficult to keep track of whose thoughts you are following. Stream of consciousness only works for me when I myself could possibly think as the character thinks, at least one of the characters. With this book I failed totally.
You follow several characters from their youth and as they each get older. The younger children did NOT think at all as a child might think. The language was way too sophisticated. As they grew up I was bored by their pompous drivel, particularly Bernhard's.
I could stand this no longer. My goodness, it IS wonderful that books purchased at Audible may be returned if you dislike them.
To summarize my reaction - these characters have nothing important to say, and I felt absolutely no empathy for any of them. Neither do I find many lines where Woolf succinctly or beautifully captures nature. If you think because of the title the setting is by the sea, well that is not the case! Don't be fooled as I was. (less)
When I express how I feel for Woolf's writing it is only in superlatives...... Yes, the writing is amazing. When I look at how I feel for the book as...moreWhen I express how I feel for Woolf's writing it is only in superlatives...... Yes, the writing is amazing. When I look at how I feel for the book as a whole, I feel it deserves less stars. Why? Is it the British upper-crust characters she weaves her story around that is the stumbling block for me? I believe so.
Writing using her unique stream of consciousness narrative, the primary themes of this book are personal relationships, the aftermath of WW1 and British colonization of India, not the events per se but their effect on individuals. The year is 1923 and Mrs. Dalloway has planned a sumptuous party for the coming evening. She is fifty-two. What happens on this one day is the story, but every encounter is influenced by past events and personal relationships. The reader is told past events through the thoughts of all the different characters, and a little dialog. That dialog is pitch-perfect. “That is my Elizabeth” has a completely different significance than the words “That is Elizabeth.” Think in terms of your own daughter! Would your daughter react the same to the two different wordings? Elizabeth is Mrs. Dalloway’s teen-age daughter. Everyone Mrs. Dalloway meets that day and how she relates to each and every one of them is influenced by past events. There is a shell-shocked war veteran and a special boyfriend from the past that happens to drop by. The meshing of past events and history and relationships is flawless. . Although British upper- crust society of the inter-war years is superbly drawn, it is the relationships between the numerous characters that captivated me.
At that party in the evening of that summer day, you, the reader, feel the tingle of excitement. As the hours slip by the mood changes and you feel that too. The food has been served, the excitement and tensions subside, people start getting tipsy, and what is said then?
Juliet Stevenson's narration was very good, except that she should have been able to voice male thoughts a bit differently than women's. Men’s and women's thoughts sound identical, and this is confusing. She does capture the different classes of people. I do believe that it is much easier to follow stream of consciousness writing through listening rather than reading.
The book is cerebral. It presents characters’ thoughts. Honest thoughts because no one censors our thoughts! It looks at relationships. What would be going through your head if you one day ran into that boy you fell for thirty years ago? Virginia Woolf captures all of this accurately. Think carefully, and don't just think; let yourself feel how you would feel. This is what the book delivers. And yet I am giving this four stars, not five, because my emotional response to the book is that I like it very much. Perhaps it is because I am a stranger to that high-society circle of friends that the book focuses upon.
ETA: I have to add something about the humor in this book...... Both the disgusting antics of the parent and the moral depravity of the era is express...moreETA: I have to add something about the humor in this book...... Both the disgusting antics of the parent and the moral depravity of the era is expressed through innuendos, irony and sarcasm. So yes there is humor in the lines; we can either laugh or cry.
This book is primarily about Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales (1796 – 1817). She was the only child of George, Prince of Wales, who later became King George IV. Her mother was Caroline of Brunswick. Had she not died in childbirth at the age of 21, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom. The book is about her troubled youth, her estranged mother and father and how she came to be married to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the first king of Belgium.
Charlotte's parents were constantly bickering, having affairs and using their daughter as a means of hurting each other. Her parents were hated by the English people. She was loved. One thing this book clearly demonstrates is the extent to which adulterous behavior, scandals and gossip infused royalty and the beginning of the 1800s. Had Charlotte not died, Queen Victoria would never have become Queen. The change in tone that Queen Victoria ushered in can only be understood if one is aware of what came before.
The book gives a good feel of those times and of who Charlotte was. Why she was who she was, and what she had to put up with!
The book zips through all the other members of the family and how Queen Victoria came to power. Zip is the word I want to emphasize. You get rapid summaries of the family tree and events. This is not in-depth and for my taste was way to superficial, but then this book is short and is primarily about Charlotte. I did love learning about her.
The narration by Jilly Bond was NOT to my liking. Charlotte sounds like a baby. All the voices were too exaggerated. Please, just read the text; I don't need all the dramatics! The speed with which the lines are read is rapid. (less)
This is a psychological thriller. It was not for me. I was not ever scared. I thought it felt totally fake, with NOT a smidgen of reality.
Maybe I sho...moreThis is a psychological thriller. It was not for me. I was not ever scared. I thought it felt totally fake, with NOT a smidgen of reality.
Maybe I should avoid psychological thrillers in the future, but heck I did enjoy Thérèse Raquin.
ETA: I also hated the complicated narrative voice which the book uses. Bess is writing a letter to her sister Tess, whom she believes has been murdered - relating how she figured out who her sister's murderer was. Suicide or death? That is one of the central questions. Bess constantly uses the pronoun you. This is, until you get the hang of it, very confusing. I was so confused in the beginning that all I was thinking about were who the pronouns used were reference to. I was also confused by the usage of italics in some paragraphs. I spent way too much time trying to figure out the author's methods rather than listening to the story.(less)