Definitely funny.....but maybe too funny? Do you know what I mean?
Of course I chuckled at lines like these:
"You will never persuade a mouse that a blDefinitely funny.....but maybe too funny? Do you know what I mean?
Of course I chuckled at lines like these:
"You will never persuade a mouse that a black cat is lucky." (chapter 5)
"I had such a good memory.......once!" (chapter 6)
"I have never planned anything illegal in my life! How could I plan anything of the kind, when I have never read any of the laws and have no idea what they are?!" (chapter 7)
"A little honest thieving hurts no one." And then, "It was all very harmless and gave employment to many."(chap 8)
Have you noted how the statements get more and more criminal in tone? Can Graham Greene write a book without turning it into a mystery or a crime novel? (view spoiler)[Interpol, smuggling, art theft and counterfeit are on display here! (hide spoiler)]. What exactly is the relationship between Aunt Augusta and her nephew, Henry? It helps to enjoy crime mystery novels. Here you get an amusing spoof.
Back to the humor. I read somewhere that Graham Greene wrote this, his sole purpose being to compose a f-u-n-n-y book. The humor changes as the book proceeds. It becomes sharper, more satirical. Politics, sex, religion and human behavior are often the brunt of the joke.
I would like to give you a feel for the humor because what appeals to one will be dishwater to another.... and yet I fear that you have to know the characters to understand the message conveyed. On sex, Aunt Augusta declares, keep in mind she is in her seventies, "I have always preferred an occasional orgie to a nightly routine." Or, if you are annoyed at your kids, this line might speak to you, "They go away from you. You can't go away from them." The lines are clever and funny, and certainly I chuckled often, but it is exactly that that I cannot deal with. I cannot read a joke book from start to finish.
Have you noted that I have shelved this book in many different countries? The book is about travel and all the countries where I have shelved it are visited.....but you neither see nor smell nor experience the different couture of the lands visited. You get a teeny bit about Paraguay. The two, aunt and nephew, travel on the Oriental Express. So much more could have been done with that!
This is a book of humor. The narrator of the audiobook, Tim Pigott-Smith, did an absolutely marvelous job of revealing that humor. He uses different intonations for the different characters in a wonderful way. Five stars for the narration.
Please keep in mind that you may totally love this book even if it was not a good fit for me. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Dear friends, how often is it that I dump a book? Don't I usually stick them out to the end? Well, I have had it with this one. It has not improved. IDear friends, how often is it that I dump a book? Don't I usually stick them out to the end? Well, I have had it with this one. It has not improved. I have gone over the half-way mark. Another 8.5 hours is unbearable.
In the first book of this series there is a friendship, albeit complicated. Now there is no semblance at all of any possible reason for friendship. You may think differently, but that is how I see it. I detest (view spoiler)[ Lila (hide spoiler)]! IF this is meant to be a coming-of-age-story, simply because it is about teenagers, I do not recommend it. Neither to adults nor a younger group of readers. I do not get a kick out of reading about nasty, mean people in my free time. I've had it.
The second book is so very similar to the first! I have listened to 1/3 or a 1/2 of the book, something like that. Same theme again. Same message, and it is so unpleasant to follow. Two girlfriends. They admire and hate each other. Jealous. Nasty. Biting. Yes, the girls have it tough; both of them, but the book is not going anywhere.
There are amusing lines like: "He is a student, but not too boring."
Am I too old for this book? It is a coming-of-age story, of figuring out what you want to do with your life. At this point I just feel like shouting, "Figure it out. Make up your mind and stop being so dependent on each other."
If I complain will it get better? If it does not improve I am certainly not going to read the third in the series.
WARNING significant spoiler ahead: One more thing, the very (view spoiler)[beginning of the first book is extremely important. It seems to say where this is all going to end up. So the surprise seems to be gone. Maybe I didn't hear that beginning correctly? This question is all that keeps an element of surprise to the book! (hide spoiler)]
BTW, the narration of the audiobook by Hillary Huber is excellent. It is not the narration that is the problem!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I so liked this book! Why? Because Kent Haruf understands people - what we say to each other, what we actually mean and how we behave. He speaks simplI so liked this book! Why? Because Kent Haruf understands people - what we say to each other, what we actually mean and how we behave. He speaks simply, honestly, directly, alternating humor with the characters’ heartrending choices. He never lectures, but the message is clear.
This is a book about two elderly people, one a widow and the other a widower. Take a guess - yep, it is about love. That is the beginning. What Haruf has dreamed up is possible and I dare anyone to say otherwise. The idea is simply wonderful. Now it is up to us to remember and be brave enough to try.
You do not have to have read any other of his books to pick this one up.
I don't like books about dysfunctional families / relationships. I don't like short novels. This book is both, and yet I really enjoyed it. It moved me. I was alternately laughing, angry or sad. What makes or breaks a book is not its genre but how it is written - the dialogs, the humor, how it tugs at your heart, the message it leaves, how the plot flows and how the end is tied up. This book satisfied me on all these accounts.
Do you know what bothered me a teeny, teeny bit? Well, a few small little details bugged me. Here is an example of two. (view spoiler)[The first night they bring home an adopted dog he sleeps peacefully in a room with the door open. No, that is not possible! Neither do I believe it consistent that Jean allows his son to bring the dog home. (hide spoiler)] I know I am being picky. And maybe at times a little more passion or anger would have occurred, in real life I mean.
Mark Bramhall's narration of the audiobook was superb. He speaks slowly and with feeling. This fit the text beautifully. If audiobooks are new to you, this is a good one to try. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a reworking of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The story has become more of an action-fI enjoyed this. It was fun. I recommend it.
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a reworking of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The story has become more of an action-filled thriller, while the ethical and psychological issues still remain. As explained in the two afterwords, one by each of the two authors, Shakespeare's Hamlet has been reworked, just as what we today most commonly see on the stage is also a reworking of Shakespeare's original. There exist in fact several “original versions”; scenes and lines present in one are lacking in another. Furthermore 1800 and 1900 interpretations have changed the originals. It is also pointed out that the history, as it is presented in the story, is not correct. Neither was it correct in Shakespeare’s original. Norway never controlled Denmark; the reverse is true. It is also mentioned that the story is based on an earlier legend, the legend of Amleth, chronicled by Saxo Grammaticus in the 1200s. The afterwords are great!
I recommend this book because you get a fun, exciting retelling of the Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The relationships are filled out. Events that happen off stage in the play take front stage in the book. The dialogs are modern, and this did bother me occasionally, but not often. I admit, when Hamlet exclaimed "Bullocks!" I was a bit thrown. A few additional characters are thrown in (Yorick and Gregor). Yorick is a clever invention. Why he was added is also explained in an afterword. He is a wonderful addition! Voltemand’s role is expanded. The central questions – is Hamlet sick, is he feigning insanity and why does he feel as he does - are fleshed out. Polonius is wicked, but how should we view Claudius? Ophelia is an interesting character. This is not only a tragedy and an exciting story, but also a character study too. Pirates and ghosts and murders galore. A story of revenge... and love.
Well known lines which we have all heard before are thrown into the dialogs.
Richard Armitage reads the audiobook. Well, I don’t seem to love his performance as much as others. He doesn’t just read the lines, he acts them. Most people love this. I could hear when Yorick, the jester, was speaking. I loved his voice. Others I could not distinguish between. It bugged me that Öresund is not correctly pronounced, but I doubt this will bother non-Scandinavians. The Danes sounded so darn English!
The book is about six wonderful Russian literary giants - Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Mandelstam, Nabokov, Bulgakov and Solzhenitsyn - and their respectiveThe book is about six wonderful Russian literary giants - Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Mandelstam, Nabokov, Bulgakov and Solzhenitsyn - and their respective wives. Here are the wives listed in the same order: Anna, Sophia, Nadezhda, Véra, Elena and Natalia. Mistresses and earlier wives are covered briefly. The central focus of this book is to show the great importance the women played in the lives of the authors, in helping their husbands achieve what they did. The wives acted as stenographers, translators, editors, publishers, researchers, typists....but most of all they gave emotional support and love! In fact they didn’t just inspire but even wrote some of the lines. They clearly deserve the praise given by the author, but there is no criticism. This had me wondering at times.
The book is thorough and detailed. It assumes to some extent that you are aware of the authors and what they have written before reading this book. It can be hard to follow otherwise. There is a lot of information here. I have read other books solely on one of the person's named. For example, Vera by Stacy Schiff is good. It alone is a book of 480 pages. What I am trying to point out is that there is a lot of information crammed into this one book. It covers a lot, but does not give you a complete biography of the authors or their wives. There is little about childhood experiences. The focus is more about how the wives helped their husbands and how devoted they were to them. Six strong love relationships are described.
I don't recommend this book as an audiobook. For two reasons. When the book covers so much so quickly it is hard to absorb new information. I had a harder time with those authors I knew less about - for me the section on Osip Mandelstam was difficult. I had questions that I felt were only scantily answered. Secondly, the narrator Susan Finch reads quickly. Too quickly. Some names she had difficulty pronouncing. I was not pleased.
Good book, but very dense. Not the best choice to read as an audiobook. My rating, as usual, is based on the written lines. ...more
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 received this book through GR’s First Reads Program. Thank you!
I read this book from start to finish with a magnifying glass. I am telling you thisI received this book through GR’s First Reads Program. Thank you!
I read this book from start to finish with a magnifying glass. I am telling you this simply because even given the difficulty it posed for me to read the book, given my poor eyesight, I would not quit. It was that good!
You can read a book of fiction for the story that is told, for what happens, Let's call this plot. Or you can read fiction for how it is written, for the charm, beauty, wisdom and humor of the lines. It was the latter that I loved about this book. The language is simple. The dialogs too. There stand just a few words, but you understand immediately their meaning and significance. Everything in this book is said with utter simplicity. All the unnecessary is washed away. You laugh, you marvel, you ponder.
What this book offers is a peek into three lives. The three are Etta's, Otto's and Russell's. This is a book about friendship and love - different kinds of love. And then there is James, a coyote. Otto and Russell grew up together; Russell almost part of Otto’s family. . All three spent their entire lives together. Three's a crowd? No, not here. This story is the quiet telling of their lives together. From childhood to old age - through adolescence and separation and war.
I should not like this book. It jumps backwards and forwards in time. Like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which I detested, it follows an elderly person's pilgrimage. There are similarities between the two that I dislike, but Etta's pilgrimage doesn't have the religious message of Fry's. I usually don't read fantasy, and honestly there are elements that stretch believability. An eighty-two year-old woman plagued with dementia walking alone from Saskatchewan to the Atlantic 3232km away? Her husband, Otto, doesn't stop her? And Russell’s choices? Possibly conceivable, but not likely! Then there is the coyote, with whom Etta communicates. Remember? That is James! But hey, I can communicate with my dog, so why can't she communicate with James? Let's just say the book has magical realism. I like magical realism. Magical realism is just about different interpretations, not fantasy really. Regardless of why I shouldn't have liked this book I still did. Actually very, very much as I read it, but the ending – it just stopped. Did I want more of a message, a final punch?
If this book is available or becomes available in an audiobook format I would advise against it. You need to see the words' placement on the pages to comprehend the time switches. You need to see which portions of the text are letters between Etta and Otto. In the paper book these are in italics. Maybe most importantly, it is delightful to read the text slowly savoring each word, to suck on the lines. It is this that is the best part of the book, not what happens step by step. The value of the book is the passage through it. ...more
When I began the book I loved it, but then it becomes confusing because it goes in all different directions. What is the real purpose of the book? AreWhen I began the book I loved it, but then it becomes confusing because it goes in all different directions. What is the real purpose of the book? Are we being given a holocaust story or are we being given a philosophical message on how one should live life? Or is it about the difficult job interpreters’ shoulder? Who is the book really about? The author or her grandparents? When I finished the book I was left with too many questions and incongruities. Also, even the telling of the known facts, after the author's extensive research, is confusing. Although it is important to live your life forward rather than dwelling in the past, if you spend hours following a person's life in a book it isn't enough to be told the past doesn't matter anyway. Maybe not for the author or as a philosophical question, but for the reader it does matter. When I stop and think of what I am told more and more questions arise. Here is one huge problem: It does not make sense to me that (view spoiler)[her grandmother who was a doctor and a psychologist to-boot, didn't bother staying with her husband to help him after the ordeal of the Nuremburg Trials. Neither does it make sense that we are told how her grandmother talks and talks and yet cannot simply say why she left her husband until years and years after the fact. This is not how her grandmother is drawn in the book! (hide spoiler)] And I must add that even before I began the book I was quite sure where the problem lay between the grandparents. It is all kind of obvious.
But let me tell you what I loved in the beginning. I was thoroughly intrigued by the two grandparents, both of them. Both were very different from each other. I loved how the grandmother expressed herself. The author too. I felt immediately that the grandfather was hurt, and I wanted to know why. However, as the details of what happened are untangled the theme becomes more a mystery to be solved than the interesting people themselves. It became more what happened than who they were. Back to the positive. I loved the description of provincial life and places in France. I could see the village in my mind's eye. All of this was genuinely described. It shows that the author knew what she was describing. I love French provincial life. It makes me all mushy and sentimental. I want to hop in a car and go there.
The author is herself an interpreter. She knows French as well as English and it was a delight to hear her speak..... as the French really do speak. Lovely French. (Don't worry; the French is also translated.) Few authors can read their own books as well as they can write them, but this author did an excellent job narrating her own book. She used one intonation for her grandmother, another for her grandfather and of course she tells her own story too. I felt that her closeness to her grandparents could be heard through the narration. It was very well done. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more