Three stars because I liked this book. It takes a while to get into. The beginning is a rapid summary of Charley's respectable, well-off, bourgeois EnThree stars because I liked this book. It takes a while to get into. The beginning is a rapid summary of Charley's respectable, well-off, bourgeois English family. Not snobbish, but proud of what they have attained. Intellectual and well-versed in the arts. His parents had raised Charley and his sister insuring that they had read what should be read, had viewed those paintings one should see and gone to concerts so they were well acquainted with the famous classical composers. All was in order. Charley would be working in the family real estate business. Art was to be enjoyed but not a source of income. The picture drawn is SO bourgeois. Life is comfortable, planned, happy. With all this settled Charley at 23 is off to a good start. The parents' reward is a one week trip to Paris over Christmas. Yes, probably a little fling with the girls, because isn't that perfectly normal?! It is part of being a man.
I will say this, without giving too much of a spoiler, Charley's world opens up on this trip to Paris. He learns of a whole new world. He meets Russian "Princess Olga", aka Lydia. He meets up with his old friend Simon, also 23. Socialist? Communist? Well, certainly not satisfied with the world as it is, and not Charley's staid world. Between the wars, when this book is set, there were many Russian immigrants. Second to Charley, this book is about Lydia and these Russian immigrants living in Paris. Lydia is fascinating. She has so much to teach Charley about art, music, love and life. The author is wonderfully knowledgeable in all these fields and so the book is quite a treasure trove of literary, musical and the visual arts. But what is also emphasized is the emotional response you have towards the arts.
The book has a clear message, a bit too blatantly proclaimed. Some sections could be shortened, for example when Simon is expounding his political views.
My audiobook was narrated by Ben Elliot. The Russian accent is not exaggerated. The French is well pronounced. Good speed. Easy to follow. Yep, a very good narration. ...more
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 EdThere 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....more
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 oI 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. ...more
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 waI 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. ...more
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 asWhen 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 shoThis 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....more
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 differenI 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. ...more
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 awarUsually 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. ...more
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, withNow 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. ...more
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,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, 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! ...more
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 intETA: 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.