There are numerous book descriptions here at GR. This says what you need to know:
"A sensational bestseller when it appeared in 1986, The Garden of Ed...moreThere are numerous book descriptions here at GR. This says what you need to know:
"A sensational bestseller when it appeared in 1986, The Garden of Eden is the last uncompleted novel of Ernest Hemingway, which he worked on intermittently from 1946 until his death in 1961. Set on the Côte d'Azur in the 1920s, it is the story of a young American writer, David Bourne, his glamorous wife, Catherine, and the dangerous, erotic game they play when they fall in love with the same woman...."
The book was uncompleted and was published posthumously. This is important to note. It does not read as a finished novel, even if it does contain some great lines. It is repetitive. The different threads are not drawn up properly. At the end, the message delivered is confused. It needs to be tightened up. Hemingway usually delivers a strong clear novel without numerous sidetracks, but not here.
There is subdued eroticism which is tantalizing in sections, but then this gets sidetracked into the power struggle in a couple's relationship, and on a higher level between men and women in general.
The narration by Patrick Wilson is perfectly acceptable.(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.
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)
I quite simply could not relate to the main characters - i.e. Jean, Pierre and their mother. Everything they said and thought, well I thought differen...moreI quite simply could not relate to the main characters - i.e. Jean, Pierre and their mother. Everything they said and thought, well I thought differently! We live in different eras, but I do believe it is not just a question of that. One doesn't have to do what is the norm. Then there is the father. He is drawn as a total idiot from start to finish. He understood nothing. There was no depth to his character.
Then there this question - who is a father? Is it he who raises a child or is it the biological father?
Neither does the book draw a detailed description of an era or a place (here Normandy latter half of the 1800s)......except perhaps in the beginning when there is a lovely fishing trip near Le Havre. Very little description is given of other coastal towns in Normandy.
John McDonough also narrated this audiobook as he did the other I listened to by Guy de Maupassant, namely Bel-Ami. Now that one I loved; that one I gave five stars. (My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) Don't judge Maupassant by Pierre and Jean. The narration is good on both, IF you can accept an elderly narrator.
Some may say that Pierre and Jean is a clever story, unfortunately I found it too short, with characters too ordinary and without humor. (less)
Usually when I review a book I try to allot the stars not by the audiobook's narration but by the author's words and content. With this book I am awar...moreUsually when I review a book I try to allot the stars not by the audiobook's narration but by the author's words and content. With this book I am awarding four stars but it is partially due to Kate Winslet's fantastic narration. She is as you must know a famous actress. I strongly believe I would never have been able to imagine the words with the terror and emotion evoked through her reading. She does a fantastic job. In addition, I would have been furious if at every mention of Camille's name it had been improperly pronounced. All the French streets and terms are spot-on; this is an important part of drawing the downtrodden life in the poorer, less affluent areas of Paris where the story unfolds in the latter 1800s.
You are told in the book description that Laurent and Thérèse kill Camille, Thérèse's husband and cousin. It is what happens afterwards that constitutes the true story. This is a psychological drama, not a murder mystery. It is suspenseful, creepy and horrifying. Are you listening? It is horrifying!! At least when it is read by Kate Winslet. She notches up the suspense, the creepiness and the horror until you are sitting on the very edge of your seat. I haven't read a horror book in years; this has given me a good dose, enough to last for at least the next ten years.
In the book description we are also told that Zola "... dispassionately dissects the motivations of his characters - mere 'human beasts', who kill in order to satisfy their lust..." I disagree; there is nothing dispassionate about this book. It is all about emotions and passions, and please note the end of that sentence I quoted. It speaks of humans behaving as beasts, filled with lust. Now that gives the proper feeling of the book.
So read this book if you want a moving study of human emotions, of fear and guilt and what propels some of to behave feverishly and crazily. Being a horror story, I at the same time find it a bit exaggerated. Not everybody behaves like this, but you get so pulled into the tension that you feel the agony of their guilt. And what about punishment? That is another question delved into. What is the worst punishment - that we allot ourselves or that forced upon us by others? Violence and abuse, which is harsher, the physical or the psychological?
I have read this is also a study of people with different temperaments. This didn't work for me. Thérèse’s aunt, Camille’s mother, is drawn as a sweet loving mother, but I see her as calculating! Laurent's temperament is clear. He is, at first at least, careful and prudent. He is calculating and egotistical, avaricious, just plain wicked. Thérèse, she is drawn as a passionate figure, and yet at the same time devious and secretive. Putting together those two characteristics does not work for me. Usually emotional, passionate people simply cannot hide what they are thinking or feeling. Perhaps under the stress of her evil deed she searches everywhere for absolution and escape. You have to read the story to see where it ends.
I do recommend it, but listen to the audiobook version narrated by Kate Winslet. (less)
Now I have listened to 5 hours, and do not like this at all. I have decided to dump it. I find the book boring and the characters unintelligent, with...moreNow I have listened to 5 hours, and do not like this at all. I have decided to dump it. I find the book boring and the characters unintelligent, with despicable behavior. I don't feel pity or empathy for any of them. Couldn't Zola have thrown in some humor? OK, Zola was a naturalist, but is it realistic to collect together such a bunch of loosers? Are people really this bad? And I am sick to death of the soirées, one after another filled with empty talk and drunkenness. Those at the soirées are falling asleep. How does Zola expect me to stay awake if none of them can?! Bismarck is discussed only fleetingly. It takes place before the war between France and the Prussians in 1870, when Alsace-Lorraine fell to the Prussians.
The narration by Walter Zimmerman is just terrible. He reads in a steady monotone.
I want to read this, so I am going to stick with it, at least for a while, but it takes all my attention to listen to the author's words rather than the narrator's voice. (less)
Again, here is a book that you must stick with; it improves. By the end I really liked it - a lot! Yup, this one is as good as the author's Ava's Man,...moreAgain, here is a book that you must stick with; it improves. By the end I really liked it - a lot! Yup, this one is as good as the author's Ava's Man, about his maternal grandfather and grandmother.
The book is set in Jacksonville, Alabama, in primarily the 1950s and 1960s. Don't make the hasty assumption that this book concerns racial questions. No, it is about poor whites. You know the term Hillbillies and what that brings to mind. The author is writing about his relationship with his father and his 10 year-old stepson. To know how he should be to be a father he first had to understand his relationship with his own father, and this was very troubled. This new son who came to his doorstep, along with the woman he wanted to marry, was as far from any boy he ever had known. How do you relate to what is completely foreign? If anything he was just that kind of boy that had been a childhood enemy. To become a father, a good father, he first had to understand himself, his own boyhood and his father. Did he succeed?
Think poor white trash. This is very bluntly put, but you will get my meaning. Think whiskey and fighting, rudimentary education and no jobs, in the South, out in the boondocks, a small cotton mill town. THAT employment was one of being torn to shreds in dangerous machines, the pay so small you can wonder if it is pay. So how do you survive? Religion? Booze? Women? And how difficult is it to change and leave and escape a bad family milieu. Can you change everything? Not everything. To be clear, this is not a book about how one can leave and escape. It is a book about understanding that life he came from, and we readers learn with him. Do we really know what such a life is really like? Here is a window to look into.
I was thinking this - what makes some people change, escape, while others remain? (I have read that alcohol ism is perhaps inherited; it comes with our genes.) You know whiskey was on the table like a salt shaker sits there on a table. But why is it that one person can break the bad cycle of generations of drinkers and fighters and womanizers, and another cannot? What makes one person succumb and another revolt and leave? We also see Rick's two other brothers and how they react, but primarily we see his father and it is shocking. He drank, he always drank and he was mean when he drank and at the end that is all he did. You cannot but ask yourself why; why is it like this and how can this change and well, there is a lot to think about?! Rick Bragg looks honestly at his life, at his father's and his mother's and their mothers and fathers. He does this with honesty, explaining how each thing happened as it did. This is not an easy read, but it is worth reading - to understand the nifty-gritty facts of another's life. For me it was a life I knew little of.
What made it very hard in the beginning was that I didn't know who was who. By the end I understood. Pronouns are used and you can't quite be sure who that person is. You hear: “the woman”, “the boy” and “he” and I”! Who, who is I? This drove me crazy. There are alternating chapters, first one about his father's life and then a chapter about time spent with his stepson. It wasn't the change in time perspective but the unclear use of pronouns that threw me. You also hear the views of others, who knew the relatives, and there are lots of relatives, and this was confusing at times. You hear about other people too, because no man is an island. Police Chief Ross, for example. To understand Rick's father you also have to understand Ross and others too, friends and foes. Who we become is just such a blend of those around us along with our own strengths and weaknesses!
Yes, this is a very good book. I admire the author for so honestly revealing who he is and why he is who he is. The author reads his own writing in the audiobook; it feels that he is speaking from the heart. The dialect is Southern and I had difficult at times deciphering the words, but it shouldn't be read any other way.
Think if for once I could write a short review! (less)
ETA: Are you are looking at the edition of this book with the following one line book description?
"A very good look at the Banana Business in the int...moreETA: Are you are looking at the edition of this book with the following one line book description?
"A very good look at the Banana Business in the international market from Central America to New Orleans."
This is incorrect. Check out the other editions' book descriptions. They are more accurate. The family's business begins with bootlegging and bordellos. Never does it touch upon the Banana Business.
So now it’s done and I don't have much to add except that I was so glued to listening that I never even once checked out how much was left. And then it ended! How often do you read a book where you never, not once, look to see what remains?
The title - is based on a legend of a condor that carries gold in its feathers. This book is about a wealthy family. How was that wealth achieved and how would it be split when its founder died? And the ending - that will keep you thinking too; it refers back to the title!
This is an unconventional story, an unusual story that absorbs you right smack to the end.
OK, this is time for an exception. If there is another audiobook by this author that I can get my hands on I will purchase it NOW, immediately! And if possible I want the same narrator - Brian Holsopple. Southerners, blacks, whites, women and men, he does them all wonderfully, so you easily distinguish between who is speaking. Just bough tRoadwalkers. :0) Exciting, I found a new author I love. (But please see below –the book might not fit all readers.)
I am not done yet, but here are my thoughts:
I REALLY am enjoying this. Given the subject matter and the horrible characters, I am kind of surprised at my reaction. Is it because the characters are completely true to themselves? A family where each one goes after what they themselves want. They live parallel lives, next to each other, but really each one is out on their own.
I wouldn't recommend this book for everyone......but it shouldn't fit me, and I think it is amazing. (This book is filled with immoral behavior.) I don't think these people are admirable, but they each are doing what that person would do. You understand each one's crazy focus. Each creates their own life according to their own way of being.
Rather than admiring the strength of each character, I think it is the ability of the author to create characters that seem so true to themselves that I like.
Maybe Thomas Hardy can write, but I didn't like this book. To say otherwise is just not true.
Just as the book description clarifies, through this boo...moreMaybe Thomas Hardy can write, but I didn't like this book. To say otherwise is just not true.
Just as the book description clarifies, through this book Hardy criticizes the three institutions - marriage, religion and education - during Victorian times. Although I agree with his criticism, he exaggerates; he finds example that go beyond a fair analysis. Some of the characters are good and some evil, as in all novels, but Hardy goes beyond this and throws in characters that are mentally instable. Their behavior cannot be seen as a just criticism of the inflexible morals, rules and beliefs. A better criticism would have been achieved through more stable characters.
I have nothing against depressing books, but this is excessively depressing and frustrating beyond words since the characters cannot make up their mind. Talk about vacillation! It was tiring to see how they make a decision and then changed their minds, not once, but over and over again. Yes, such rigid institutions can force people into craziness, but not to the extent portrayed here. These people would not even be happy in less restrictive times, and thus Hardy's message loses impact.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Stephen Thorne. I was not pleased with the women's voices, and you could not tell who was speaking. The tone was disagreeable, but so were the characters.
I liked Jude, but felt such pity for him. It is hard to see a man so crushed by life, and his choice of women could not have been worse.
It is for those readers who appreciate good writing rather than for those who want an exciting plot. There is excite...moreI highly recommend this book. WOW!
It is for those readers who appreciate good writing rather than for those who want an exciting plot. There is excitement, but that is not why you pick this book. The ending is special; I loved it, but others may hate it. See the book like this - you pull back a curtain and glimpse another life, and then that curtain swings shut, and the book ends. Not everything is spelled out. And the future? Who knows for sure what the future will bring.
The focus is about bayou life on the islands at the mouth of the Mississippi, about fishermen communities to whom New Orleans is seen as the 'Big City'. This is a story about life on these islands - the weather, the storms, the swamp; it's scary even to them. The animals and insects (the creepy crawlies) and plants. The feel of the sticky air on your skin. The heaviness of the air before a storm, and the color of the sky. Feuds, women's roles and men's - who does what and who decides what? And if you don't agree, what happens then? Drinking and partying and sex too, but never offensively drawn. It is about the people there on these islands. What is their life like? It is not about high achievers. They swear; they talk their own dialect. Forget proper grammar.
But what really makes the book so special is how the author gets you inside the heads of such different characters - a teenager whose mother has recently died and whose father remarries. How does she feel about her father remarrying? And how do all teenagers act and behave and talk? My, what sass! One minute these kids want independence and freedom, and the next they want their parents' closeness and support. You will recognize teenage behavior! The widower marries a widow who has a young child. How does this child see his new life and existence, his new sister and a new father?! There is another outsider there on the island, on a boat going to New Orleans, but the sand bars are tricky and he is stuck there. You get inside all of these characters’ heads, and there are others too. Through their words, through dialogs you hear what they say and you understand their thoughts and confusion, hopes and wishes and struggles. There is also an old woman on the island; she is related to just about everyone. It is a small community where everyone knows everything about everyone. How does she see what is happening around her, and death sneaking in at the crevices of her house? Rivalry and dog fights and a small shop-owner. Through what they say to each other, what they do and the choices they make you understand them and their lives. You get a glimpse into another world, their world.
And here is a thought - who you are, doesn't that consist of how you react to what happens around you? Isn't that what determines who you are? Forget plans.
What makes this book special is how the reader gets into so many different characters; you see each of their lives and each one becomes special and unique.
Don't read this book. Listen to it, narrated by Luci Christian Bell. The narration is marvelous. Each character has their own intonation. The slang used and how it is pronounced is perfect. You will laugh. Wait till you hear the islanders' "NO?!" A question and an answer all in one!
I have finished the audiobook and I am so terribly impressed. This one gets five stars. I have to figure out how to write a review that does it justice.
After chapter 21: Oh my, I forgot to mention the flirting. It is delightful, both between the teenagers and the older couples too. This covers young adult relationships, love between a widower and widow and other attractions between women and men. I love it. There is so much in this book about how people interact and how that interaction is different at different ages.
I am absolutely loving this book. I have only listened to about one third, 20 chapters are completed, but I HAVE to express how I am reacting to this book.
The people - I love them. They are Southerners, people of the bayou, not people I know, not people I have been acquainted with, but now I feel I know them and I feel part of their community.
I absolutely LOVE the dialog.
I absolutely love these ordinary people. No, they are not high achievers. I couldn't care less, what they have accomplished with their lives.
I don't know where the plot is going, although I have a few guesses now. I am not reading the book for where it is going. I am reading it for being part of the island community.
A marriage has taken place. Two kids have become brother and sister. No, they were not asked or even informed. Their reactions are so absolutely pitch perfect. One is about three and the other seventeen.
Please listen to the audio version narrated by Luci Christian Bell. I don't believe any reader of the paper book could better imagine the Southern dialect, and no other narrator could better capture the emotions of the characters.
Grau, the author, won a Pulitzer for The Keepers of the House. That is what got me started with the author. FANTASTIC writing. I don't have a superlative that adequately describes how I appreciate the writing.
People, if you don't know of this author, please pay attention. Grau can write. (less)
The dialogs are negative, derogatory and filthy. Too many of the characters are pathetic loosers. Mind you, I am not one to say that people should be...moreThe dialogs are negative, derogatory and filthy. Too many of the characters are pathetic loosers. Mind you, I am not one to say that people should be focused on monetary success over kindness to fellow human beings. I find the book extremely depressing and totally boring.
There is some humor, but it is negative too.
I have listened to six hours of twenty-four and have decided to give up. I only do that if I really detest a book. I recommend this book to no one. (less)