Absolutely excellent, descriptive writing. Writing that pulls the reader in. Characters that are fully developed and totally real. A book with humor.Absolutely excellent, descriptive writing. Writing that pulls the reader in. Characters that are fully developed and totally real. A book with humor. A book with serious topics to consider. A book about life’s ups and downs. Every time the theme changed I was astonished to once again see how this topic and that topic and every topic touched upon had something to say to me. A long book that does not drag.
I loved reading a book set in Germany before either of the world wars! The Revolution of 1948 and the war against Denmark are briefly featured. I enjoyed observing, with humor, cultural differences within the country, how the Prussians view the Bavarians and the Bavarians the Prussians. The setting is primarily Lübeck in the 1800s. Clothing, foods, furniture, beliefs and traditions of the era and place are all picturesquely depicted.
Here is a multi-generational novel where a large number of characters are introduced early in the story and stay around long enough so that the reader comes to know each one intimately. The characters mature yet each remains true to their distinctive personality. There are characters with widely differing traits, but usually there were both good and bad qualities in each individual, and this made each feel real.
Themes? There are so many. Loyalty to one’s family. Sibling relationships – jealousies, competitiveness and innate differences. Family enterprises. Moral standards. The importance of art and music. All of which can be weighed one against the other. Choices must be made.
This is a new audiobook; it came out in October 2016. The narration by David Rintoul is stupendous. When an audiobook is this well read it is impossible not to recommend listening to it rather than reading it. Fantastic intonations for the respective characters. Perfect speed. Perfect pronunciation of French and German dialects. A simply wonderful narration.
This is a classic to be read or preferably listened to.
After a bit more than 1/3:
I am liking this a lot!
Wonderful writing. Very descriptive, but in a good way. You see everything right before your eyes. There is humor. The events pull you in. When terrible things happen, even to people you dislike, you care, you need to know how the problem will be resolved.
It has been ages since I have read such a great multi-generational saga!
David Rintoul reads the new audibook wonderfully....more
I'm impressed. The author offered promotion coupons at Audible to those who were interested in listening to and reviewing this novel of historical ficI'm impressed. The author offered promotion coupons at Audible to those who were interested in listening to and reviewing this novel of historical fiction. It did look interesting, but quite a few times I have accepted free books / audiobooks and been disappointed. Then you feel like a total creep when in giving an honest review you have to criticize a person's hard work and their gift. In the past I have found this very unpleasant. This time I feel utterly relieved because I really did very, very much enjoy listening. I don't have to worry about picking my words with care in an effort to express negative thoughts politely.
The book focuses upon two "brothers" born in 1901 near Limerick. We watch them mature in the turbulent time leading up to Ireland's independence in 1921. Mr. Clancy, a Limerick pub owner of the Republican bent, tells the boys tales of Ireland's patriotic figures, about men such as Brian Boru fighting the Vikings, Hugh O'Neill and the Nine Years War, Oliver Cromwell's religious intolerance against Catholics, the daring exploits of John "Fireball" MacNamara, the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and finally the growing strength of the Sinn Féin movement established in 1905. Mr. Clancy doesn't hide where his affiliations lie and he states outright the value of a well told story with there being no harm in adding a bit of embellishment! These tales, told to the boys and to us, depict the culture that has shaped them. In watching their reactions we observe their different personalities. The history is not boring, neither for them nor for us; it is exciting and draws the mood, the place and the feel of the boys' Ireland. With this background the story unfolds.
The reader comes to understand why the two boys live as brothers under the same roof, though they have different surnames. The reader comes to understand why their father is not fighting for the IRA. Young in the beginning, only twelve, we watch them mature. A girl enters the scene. She is loved by both, but she loves them both too! You think this sounds contrived? Well not here. The book is about the Irish fight for independence told through the boys’ lives as they become men and through their families and those they love. The first two decades of the 20th century and Limerick, that is the setting. The sentiments of those involved feel utterly genuine. The reality of the decisions that need to be made and their consequences for all those involved hit home with force. This is a book both about men and women. There are gruesome details of torture. Maria, the woman they both love, how can she choose between the two? Must she choose? Will she have any opportunity to choose? Does one die for Ireland or does one die for a friend? Both the love aspect and the IRA struggle pulled me in equally.
A dialect is not just the pronunciation of words but also the words used, the expressions, the idioms and the whole way of talking. Everything here is very, very Irish, and I loved it. The author’s choice of words goes far in making this book feel genuine. Sure there is swearing, but every swear word belongs. We are delivered real life and real dialogs.
I do wish a short author’s note had clarified what was fact and what fiction, although often this was not hard to distinguish.
The narration by Liam Carney is read with a superb Irish lilt. I do think this further enhances one’s appreciation of the lines. I would rate the narration with four stars, drawing off one because Carney read, for my taste, a bit too fast. He sings Irish tunes with just the right nuance, not too sentimentally but in a gruff masculine voice. There is even an addition of Irish music introducing a chapter or two. There is not too much of this to make it annoying or too repetitive. Often an interruption for music breaks the flow of the story, but that didn’t happen here, probably because it was not excessively employed. Personally, I think this book should be listened to in the audio format rather than read, doing so one feels immersed in Irish culture.
This was a gripping story and a true pleasure to listen to.
Another book I would not classify as belonging to the young adult genre. Sure, teenagers can read this but so can adults. Should one classify all bookAnother book I would not classify as belonging to the young adult genre. Sure, teenagers can read this but so can adults. Should one classify all books about young adults as YA books? My answer is no. Furthermore, in this book the focus is not merely on the young ones but the adults too.
Three central components of all novels are: 1. The language, the dialog, the words used. 2. The story told, i.e. the plot. 3. How all the different parts are drawn together, the novel’s construction. In this book it is the language that drew me in most, which made every minute spent reading truly enjoyable. I was either smiling or chuckling or thinking. Just great lines! Then at the end I had my ear strained toward the loudspeaker intensely curious to see if what was happening really could be true! Now it was the plot that drew me. Sitting back, digesting what had happened, I marveled at how the author had forewarned me, but I had not taken note. Why? Because I had been so involved in the telling. I marveled at how perfectly the threads had been pulled together. Fiction of this quality is remarkable.
Great humor. Subtle humor about the pains of growing up, of becoming an adult, of figuring out what kind of life you choose to live. And boys and sex and acceptance of one’s own body. I believe very few adolescents think they live up to even the norm. Total failure is what most feel.
Some really good characters. Personally I loved Paula. I understood Marigold, or let’s just call her Bilgewater as everyone does here. She is seventeen. Her mom died at her birth. Her father is a housemaster at a boys boarding school near Middlesbrough, England. Her father and his cronies will make you smile. Jeez, you have to meet each one. Each one is special and none are flawless.
The audiobook narration was almost perfect. I was about to give it five stars but I felt the ending when everything was happening at a lickety-split I had to backtrack and re-listen several times. I absolutely adored Bentinck’s intonations for the old men, for Paula, for Grace. Wait till you meet Grace! You knew exactly who was speaking without being told. Really, I whole-heartedly emphasize that this is a book to be listened to rather than read, but you must choose the narration by Anna Bentinck! It is truly marvelous.
You know when I immediately choose to add another book by the author to my wish-list that I am impressed. I have to read more by the author soon. The next will be Crusoe's Daughter.
Wow, I really AM impressed. This is VERY good. It starts out good and amazingly enough gets better and better. It is about time somebody turned theirWow, I really AM impressed. This is VERY good. It starts out good and amazingly enough gets better and better. It is about time somebody turned their focus on Winston Churchill's wife, a person behind the scenes who did so much.
I liked this book because it so well portrays the complicated relationships between the members of the Churchill family – Winston and his wife Clementine and their five children. I thought about the love between Winston and Clementine. One sees both the love and also the hurt they caused each other. I thought about the parents’ respective relationships with the children. No two relationships were the same and this gives food for thought. Did Clementine learn from her earlier mistakes in child-raising? Could Clementine ever relate to her children as Winston did? How did the children relate to their parents, and why did each one behave so differently? There is deep suffering within this family but for different reasons and with different outcomes. The personal interactions are well explored. I didn’t see any of them drawn in a superficially favorable light.
The events of the First and Second World War are drawn from a British point of view, in a concise and clear manner only referring to those events directly related to the Churchills. The Dardanelles disaster, Winston’s “wilderness years” of the 30s and the efforts of him and his wife in drawing America into the Second World War are told from a perspective I have not read before. Hearing of Clementine’s views and behind-the-scenes involvement is eye-opening. I appreciated the explanation of why even after victory at the end of the Second World War Churchill failed to be reelected. Generally a victor is honored! How Churchill reacted and how Clementine reacted to losing the election in 1945 and what they felt and did is interesting to observe. I found it revealing to compare the respective couples - the Roosevelts and the Churchills. Clementine was so very different from Eleanor, yet both helped, guided and opposed their respective husband in their own way. One views markedly different personalities and different cultures. The close look at Clementine’s importance to Winston and her role in his career has not been covered with such depth in the other books I have read as it is here.
The audiobook is well narrated by Charlotte Strevens. The pronunciation is British rather than American and it should be so. It took me a while to accustom myself to this. Once I got the hang of it I had no trouble understanding. The speed was good.
I really cannot say I have any complaints with the book. I thought first I should give it five stars because of this very fact. Instead I am going by my gut reaction; I REALLY like the book so I am giving it four stars. For me a five star book has to have something that makes it shine exceptionally, an element of superb imagination. The book is a very good analysis of the complex relationships found within the Churchill family and a clear review of the individuals’ lives. There are zillions of books on Winston Churchill and his role in the wars but this book fills a gap not covered before!
The GR book description states: In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading NatThe GR book description states: In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading Native American voices, details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world.
The author's lines describing the abusive family situation of her youth are clear, albeit emotionally draining.
When she speaks of her personal development and transformation through transcendental spirituality the lines become abstruse. Perception of the world around her becomes vague, clothed in bewildering metaphors and unclear. What I saw happening could easily have been expressed in ordinary words. For example, while I might explain a nagging suspicion through intuition, she speaks of diffuse ancestral Native American beliefs confusingly described. Poetry is pretty, but to convey a message is it the best means?
The author’s connection with the “natural world” is scarcely touched upon.
Her passage toward psychological stability is not explained in a manner that I can understand. I do not believe others can learn from her experiences.
You learn little about Native American beliefs or customs. This is a personal story.
The author reads her own book. There is a beauty in some of the author's poetic lines, but unfortunately the flow of the words is jagged. Pauses are inserted in the wrong places and the wrong words were emphasized. The import of the lines became unclear. She does have a strong, deep voice that resonates well. ...more
I wavered with this book, back and forth between three or four stars. Some sections grab you, pull you in and won’t let you go. Other sections are weaI wavered with this book, back and forth between three or four stars. Some sections grab you, pull you in and won’t let you go. Other sections are weaker – ordinary, cute or holier-than-thou. Unfortunately, the ending was for me too neat and too sweet, the result being I gave it three stars. I liked the book. I can recommend it to others. Many adore such endings.
The book covers many themes – the production and trade of cotton, the relationship between sisters of different color, Jews in the South, Jewish traditions, discrimination of Blacks, the bloody events of both the Civil War and the chaos afterwards when the Unionists won. What the book does best is make the reader feel emotional forces binding and tearing individuals, between father and daughter, daughter and mother, between sisters and between lovers. How did it feel to be black and discriminated against? Think again....how did it really feel? Can we understand this? Can we put ourselves in their shoes, but forget it, they often didn't even have shoes?! Each character is not good or bad, but both good and bad. This made them believable.
There are love scenes, some quite explicit and lengthy. Too lengthy?
I appreciated that the book concludes with an afterword documenting the history and the presence of Jews in the South during antebellum times. How many actually had slaves and how did this come to be given their own heritage of discrimination in Europe and slavery in Egypt?
Bahni Turpin narrates the audiobook. She dramatizes. In my view, when an author's words are themselves emotive further emphasis is really not needed! One easily hears who is speaking - infants, youngsters, Blacks, Whites, slaves and gentry. There are even shrill chirping birds……which I felt were too loud! ...more
The writing is uneven. Occasionally I would come across a pretty line, but for the most part I found the writing ordinary,Why didn't I like this book?
The writing is uneven. Occasionally I would come across a pretty line, but for the most part I found the writing ordinary, unclear, pretentious or overwrought. All too often fancy words are used when a simpler one would have sufficed. Some sentences sound terribly profound, but what really do they mean?
There are two sisters (Ruth and Lucille) who behave in diametrically opposed manners to the suicide of their mother, the death of their grandmother who came to care for them after the death of their mother and to the death of their grandfather whose life was taken when the train he was on crashed from a bridge. These girls come then to live first with two great aunts and finally their aunt, Sylvie. This aunt is viewed by society as "flakey", unreliable and clearly inappropriate as a mother. The great aunts were certainly equally incapable. This is all presented at the beginning of the book, with few lines and little explanation. Lucille wants (view spoiler)[a secure ordinary life. She comes to live with her home economics teacher. Ruth settles in with her aunt, Sylvie. The central theme is about their relationship and what is demanded of them by "good society". It is about what they do to survive. (hide spoiler)]The book looks at Ruth's and Sylvia's manner of living compared to the life chosen by Lucille and the life society claims is best.
What is the book trying to say? That loss and abandonment leads to transience? Perhaps, but Lucille didn't follow that route and Sylvie had been flakey and lived as a transient for years even before her sister, the girls’ mother, had killed herself. Maybe it is as simple as this that people are different and there is no one correct manner of living. This is a rather self-evident message! Lucille's life is shown as narrow and restricted by others and society's opinions of her. Sylvie has heart, compassion and shows understanding for others, although the life she and Ruth opt to take is uncertain, difficult and borders on the improper. Sylvie is shown as appreciating nature and pursuing flitting dreams, but at least molding her life to her own wishes, accepting the hardships that follow. The problem is that we do not see if Ruth has chosen this route by free will, she was too young to really decide when she follows Sylvie. Maybe she has simply been molded by her aunt. What the author is trying to say leaves me confused. Images are splattered before us and they don't hold together, pointing to a clear message.
Ruth is telling us this story from the vantage point of an adult. The words spoken are not those of a child. A further incongruity is that Ruth never wanted to talk and here she is telling us this story. There is no clue as to what has changed her into this talkative person!
There are references to religious stories which I didn't understand - Cain and Abel and Noah and more.
The audiobook is narrated by Becket Royce. The tempo is uneven; at times too fast. You can hear what is being said, so three stars for the narration.
I don’t think this book has anything remarkable to say, and if it does it went over my head. The writing didn’t impress me. ...more
When I chose this book I failed to understand the author’s intention. Look at the subtitle! I hadn't noted the words "Rediscovering America on the AppWhen I chose this book I failed to understand the author’s intention. Look at the subtitle! I hadn't noted the words "Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail". This book is not for people who love hiking; it is not intended to increase love of the sport. It scarcely shows the pleasure one can derive from hiking. It is instead a commentary on America with some details about the Appalachian Trail. I have to admit my own fault in not carefully reading the complete title. I still must rate according to my own appreciation of the book. For me it was just OK.
This book is full of griping and whining. From its start to almost the very end. At the end there is a line or two that shows appreciation for hiking. For the purpose of delivering an exciting tale the author begins by listing all the terrible things that can happen and have happened on the trail. Bryson warns of getting lost, being bitten by snakes, eaten by bears, mauled by mountain lions and even being murdered. The complaining doesn't stop there. He tells of unpleasant people on the trail, the weight of the pack, hunger and tiredness, the expense and idiocy of trekking gear, even abstinence from sex and family and TV and soda pop and Little Debbie cakes and beer. He goes on to bemoan pollution, park authorities, deficient maps, modern American urbanization and expansion of roads to the point where one is unable to w-a-l-k by foot anywhere. Sure, some of the gripes certainly are legitimate, but a whole book of griping is hard to take, and the focus is scarcely on the delight of hiking. I love hiking.
Beware, by no means does the author and his buddy Stephen Katz travel the whole trail. Do not expect a complete trail guide. They trek 500 miles, starting at the southern end, and then stop for a break, totally worn out by their experiences. They each go home, but Bryson then decides to cover portions of the trail by making day trips using his car. At this point the topics covered shift from trail experiences to information about historical events that have occurred at various places near the trail. The book sidetracks to cover events of the Civil War (Stonewall Jackson and Harper's Ferry), oil and anthracite mining, the smoking, inextinguishable underground mine fires of Centralia, Pennsylvania, as well as the ecological devastation at abandoned zinc mines at Palmerton in the same state. I name but a few examples. After Bryson’s solitary day excursions by car the two buddies meet up again to trek in Maine, finishing off with the “100 Mile Wilderness”. Well, I will not tell you what happens there, but you can pretty much guess. Anyone who knows anything about longer hiking tours knows that planning and careful preparation are essential. This includes critically assessing one’s own capabilities. Who says one has to trek the whole trail anyway? They finally realize that!
Pseudonyms are used to protect the identity of those spoken of. Stephen Katz is a pseudonym too. When you read the book you will not be surprised at the need to cover up true identities. Many extremely uncomplimentary things are said.
There are some humorous lines. There are some interesting historical details about the trail. There are some relevant insights about trekking which can be drawn from the book if you ponder what happens: -the first and second day are always the hardest. -it is easy to get lost. -don’t walk alone and inform others of your itinerary. -plan carefully water availability. -have proper clothing; weather can radically change. -take only what you really need. Every ounce feels like a ton when it is on your back. After a trek you will feel as though you are flying. After a trek you will appreciate the wonder of a warm shower and cleanliness. After a trek you will appreciate what before you have taken for granted – the ease of walking without gear, cooked food, being clean, and the beauty of nature. I wish this book had much more emphasis on what trekking can give a person.
The audiobook is narrated by Rob McQuay. He does a fine job. Easy to follow and at a good clip. He expresses through his intonation both the lines of humor and the author’s criticism of modern American trends. The disdain is heard.
After 9 chapters: I am not exactly enjoying this, even if there are a few amusing lines. So much complaining. Such poor planning. And tell me why is there so little about the beauty of nature? The point with hiking is not to partake in a race or a competition to determine who does it fastest, in one swipe or in parts. Why would anyone have to do the-whole-thing? That is not the point. I prefer the empty Swedish mountain ranges.
I did not like this book. I found it a total bore from start to finish. I didn't laugh once. It is supposed to have satirical humor. I found no humorI did not like this book. I found it a total bore from start to finish. I didn't laugh once. It is supposed to have satirical humor. I found no humor at all.
The book is about a single woman, Mildred Lathbury. She is in her thirties. She is living in London near Victoria Station in the years following the Second World War. History is scarcely referred to other than mention of food rationing, a lack of commodities and a bombed building or two. Her days consist of eating - meals and tea - over and over again. How one can eat a meal and go an hour later to tea and an hour later to the next meal is beyond me. If not sipping tea or munching on bread and jam, often in the company of a friend, she is arranging a church jumble sale, a church bazaar or some other church function. Her father had been a clergyman. Both mother and father are now dead. Other than these things she is constantly, constantly helping her acquaintances, to the extent of total self-effacement! Or …..wondering about love. Is she happy? No. And so life continues.
My God, why doesn't she put her foot down? Setting no limits, doing everything for everybody, she is used by all. A person must set limits, don't you think? No, women do not have to get married, but they do have to do something of interest with their lives. Ordinary lives are fine as long as they give one a modicum of self-fulfillment, and I do not believe Mildred Lathbury comes near to any such feeling. This is how I see the book. You may see it differently.
The Hachette audiobook is said to be narrated by Jonathan Keeble, but that is wrong; he only reads the two introductions. Don't worry, they don't say very much; only very general information about the author's writing is set forth. It is Jerry Halligan who reads the story. She reads at a good pace and with appropriate intonations for the story's diverse characters. The narration is fine.
This book annoyed me. If you let yourself be stepped on, whose fault is that? ...more
I finished this book wondering if I had understood correctly what the author was trying to say. I have all sorts of ideas, but they don't hold togetheI finished this book wondering if I had understood correctly what the author was trying to say. I have all sorts of ideas, but they don't hold together into one cohesive message. If I don’t understand the book, how can I give it more stars?
The pluses are that the book keeps you thinking, it has sentences that cleverly hint at philosophical messages and lots of amusing lines. The humor is satirical irony.
The sentence in the GR book review stating that this novel is, “an ironic story epic that humorously tenderly erodes sacrosanct values: childhood, motherhood, revolution, and even poetry” is an almost perfect description of this book! I have replaced the word “epic” with “story” and “tenderly” with “humorously”. Little is sacrosanct in this book. Not politics. Certainly not sex. Kundera’s books always contain a heavy dose of eroticism.
So how does the story unroll and what does the book deal with? First and foremost, the relationship between an adolescent son and his doting mother. He is tied to his mother's very short apron strings. I cannot imagine any reader liking any of the characters. The plot jumps around; it is meant to confound; it is meant to be confusing. It is meant to keep you thinking. It is not the steps of the story we are to follow but rather the underlying philosophical messages we are meant to think about. The author himself interrupts the events and speaks directly to the readers explaining why he has chosen to flip to another episode. The setting is Prague at the end of the forties and early fifties.
Maybe we are not supposed to draw any deep conclusion. Maybe we are simply to laugh. Laugh at society? Laugh at ourselves? What I kept thinking about was how the son never said anything original; he spoke only clever lines that someone else had said or expressed views that one should say. When what one should say changed, what he said changed too.
The book was written by the author in 1969 in Czech. Then it was translated into French. In 1985 the French translation was revised by the author in an attempt to better correspond to the original. An English translation from the revised French translation was done by Aaron Asher. This was done in close cooperation with the author to insure that no new distortion should occur.
I enjoyed the audiobook narration by Richmond Roxie.