Here is another book that surprised me. I did not like the writing style at the beginning, but by the end I liked exactly that, the writing, very muchHere is another book that surprised me. I did not like the writing style at the beginning, but by the end I liked exactly that, the writing, very much. The writing is descriptive, right from the beginning, but when it starts not only the places and scenes are described, but also we are told the personality traits of the involved characters. Here is the classical problem of being "told rather than shown". After the initial presentation of the characters, only then do we begin to observe them. At the same time the tone becomes sensual, beautiful and moving. It starts out choppy. Maybe this is not a bad technique, to first introduce the disparate characters and then to add depth to each one? You begin to watch them and to understand their emotions. It is Edna, and the other female characters you watch, more so than the male figures. But what I liked about the book was the writing.
This is a book of early feminism, published first in 1899. The constricts are those placed upon women during the Victorian era – husband, social standing, children and “what will people say”! We watch the "awakening" of a woman; she becomes aware of her own identity, and her right to have her own identity.
The setting is New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast.
This was my first Librivox audiobook. I want to thank Leslie and Sandy for their help in learning how to download it and for their lists of good Librivox narrators. Elizabeth Klett, narrates this. To tell you the truth, I didn't like the narration at first. I found it too rapid, I had to learn who was who and so I had a terrible time with the rapid speed. But then, just as I grew to like the writing style, I grew to like the narration too. Sometimes you have to acclimatize yourself to a narrator, and sometimes the narrator has to get into the feel of the story. I will not shy away from this narrator. She is very good, albeit a bit fast for me. I need time to think when I listen to a book.
Then there is the ending...... I am not so sure I like it, but you will be surprised. I guarantee that. Again, it is not the plot that makes me like this book, but rather the feeling the writing conjures. I felt Edna's awakening.
ETA: No, this damn book IS worth four stars. I woke up early this morning worrying about my rating! Here is why I must give it four stars: I came to cETA: No, this damn book IS worth four stars. I woke up early this morning worrying about my rating! Here is why I must give it four stars: I came to care deeply for three people: Susan, Maud and Mrs. Sucksby. Wait till you find out who exactly the last one is! They moved from being cardboard evil characters to people I felt compassion for. Yes all three of them. And look at all the other good things I have listed below!
By the book's end I was extremely impressed! By what exactly? *By the ability with which Sarah Waters depicted Victorian London, London in 1862 to be exact. *By the flair with which a lesbian relationship is drawn, even to me who am heterosexual. *By her ability to create from nothing a totally new story that kept me listening. The story is completely credible and yet full of twists and turns. *Waters creates characters that are believable. Originally I was annoyed by the fact that all seemed evil, devious and scheming. I didn't know them well enough when I made that false judgment. *The dialogs and the different dialects reflecting the character's social standing were pitch-perfect. *No, I didn't laugh often, but occasionally I would smile. *The writing is VERY atmospheric; the story reads as a Gothic mystery, and even if this is not a genre that I habitually read I was impressed. Much is CREEPY. Maybe in fact it was so creepy that it made me squeamish and that is why I was so disturbed, because honestly I almost gave up on this book half way through. IF you ARE looking for a Gothic mystery - grab this.
I have one serious complaint - the book is too long; it should have been tightened. The first section is told and then we are told it again from another point of view. I was totally exasperated by this. This was too repetitive. I was scared to death that the story would be told AGAIN from a third point of view. No, that didn't happen.
So why should one read this book? Because you are given a very good story. Does it leave a message? Yeah, it does. It is all about family, loosely defined. It is about the feelings that bind the members of a family, regardless of the hurt we cause each other. Let me repeat again - the lesbian theme was VERY well done. Readers hesitant on that score will be pleasantly surprised! I was.
As stated, I had a very hard time during the first half of the book - so stick with it. I may not have continued if the audiobook had not had such a wonderful narration. Juanita McMahon did a fabulous job. I ALWAYS could here exactly who was speaking. I am not going to give any spoilers, but this is an essential part of the story! I loved the dialect used for Susan and the contrasting tone for Maud. At Audible I will rank the narration with five stars. Need I say more about the narration?
I want to leave what I wrote half way through the book. It is important you know that too....... I do think I have given you enough of an indication of what this book offers so you can judge if it will fit what you are looking for.
After a little more than half:
A friend asked me if I found the writing in Sarah Waters' Fingersmith verbose. I explained that the fist part wasn't. BUT, but, but, now, in the second part, we are being told the same story all over again, albeit from another person's point of view! Repetition has to be a kind of wordiness, right? The second first person narrative are the words of a woman higher up on the Victorian ladder, and her language is perhaps not verbose, but more polished. Susan's telling is simple, frank and to the point. Maud's is woven into a more educated language that drones on and on.
Who is the most wicked?!
This is clearly a mystery. I would call it a Gothic mystery to-boot! Creepy stuff, but honestly I am bored the second time around! I am not a mystery fan! I just don't really care, since this is just a make-believe story.
Is the writing Dickensenian? According to Wiki this word is defined as: 1.Of or pertaining to Charles Dickens or, especially, his writings. 2. Reminiscent of the environments and situations most commonly portrayed in Dickens' writings, such as poverty and social injustice and other aspects of Victorian England.
Yes, the book does depict poverty, social injustice and English Victorian society. But there is more to Dickens' writing than just this! We all have our own feelings toward his writing.
Right now I am thinking that even if the Sarah Waters does have a talent in depicting a time and place well, and even if she threw in a twist I never expected, and even if she let me emotionally understand a lesbian relationship............I am bored. Now again, I have guessed how the story will conclude. Will she throw in another twist? ...more
I think this is a fabulous book of non-fiction. It is clear, interesting from start to finish and the amount of detail is perfect. It is not dry, notI think this is a fabulous book of non-fiction. It is clear, interesting from start to finish and the amount of detail is perfect. It is not dry, not ever.
It follows the fall of the totalitarian regimes in the six countries of the Warsaw Pact: Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. You come to understand why the USSR fell apart. It follows the significant role played by leaders and dissidents in these six nations and Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Regan, George H. W. Bush and Pope John Paul II. The events in each of these countries and their respective leaders are covered in detail. Soviet involvement in Afghanistan is also discussed because the disastrous military campaign there partially explains Soviet abandonment of the satellite countries.
I am not knowledgeable enough to check the accuracy of every detail; I read the book to learn. Nevertheless, I do not doubt the author's information - he is an English journalist writing for the London Evening Standard and he witnessed much first hand.
In the introduction the author states that he uses the terms Eastern and Central Europe interchangeably, as well as Soviet Union, Russia and the USSR. It would have been better had he simply stated which counties he classified as Eastern European and which Central European. In addition he uses the words socialism and communism interchangeable. This is sloppy, and in some lines the word choice is quite simply wrong. Socialism and communism cannot be used interchangeably; they are not the same thing! This frequently bothered me.
I wish the book had covered the evolution of events in the Baltic States which also threw off Soviet tyranny. The author states that Yugoslavia is omitted because it deserves a book of its own.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Paul Hecht. Some of the Eastern European names are hard to catch, but most often I could still find these names with the help of Wiki. The narration is excellent. The reading is slow and clear. You need that in a book of non-fiction where there is so much to learn.
I really, really, really liked this book. I found it fascinating and clear. I just wish I could glue everything in my head so it never disappears. When you read a book that is this good, you don't want to forget any small detail.
(Please read what I have written below. You will find there additional important information.)
About 1/3 through the book:
I have listened to about 1/3 and am totally enjoying it. Absolutely fascinating. It starts in in the 1970s so you watch the disintegration of the Empire, not just the final fall. It is one of those books of non-fiction that IS NOT DRY. When a number is given it is compared with another so you understand its significance. You laugh at what you are being told; the author puts it so amusingly. For example, when he talks about the Stasi and the GDR he speaks of a spy who marries for the sole purpose of spying on the woman more efficiently! Everything had to be recorded on paper because there were so many power cuts. He talks of mountains of information and how stupid much was - such as the exact conversation of a guy buying a hot dog. "No the mustard isn't necessary, just the bread." The book is interesting and easy to read and read and read. Just the right amount of information to pique your interest. Not too much so it gets tedious.
I hadn't realized to what extent the dissension in Poland in the 80s was hinged upon the papal choice of Pope John Paul II.
All readers will recognize name after name after name. You learn about Lech Wałęsa, Solidarity (The Polish Trade Union), Václav Havel, Erich Honecker, Erich Mielke (German secret police official, head of Stasi), Leonid Brezhnev, Andrei Gromyko and of course Mikhail Gorbachev. And I have only read a third of the book! ...more