This book consists of a handful of interconnected short stories about a British intelligence officer, Ashenden. The stories are based on Maugham’s ownThis book consists of a handful of interconnected short stories about a British intelligence officer, Ashenden. The stories are based on Maugham’s own experiences as an intelligence agent stationed in Switzerland working for the Allies during the First World War and then in St. Petersburg as an undercover agent with Kerensky in power and the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution soon to take place. The stories are set in Geneva, Basel, Lausanne and Lucerne, Switzerland, Thonon, France and St. Petersburg, Russia.
One story takes place on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Amusing in tone, we follow an eleven-day trip from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg. Ashenden shares his cabin with an American business man who will not shut his mouth! Oh, Mr.Harrington, he is quite a conversationalist. As Ashenden remarks, although his travel companion is a bore, it is impossible to not end up liking him.
There is also a story about the flamboyant “Hairless-Mexican”, who wears a wig, in fact several, but hasn’t a hair on his face. Maugham has the ability to make a despicable person interesting, intriguing and kind of fun. You should not like the person, but you do!
In all of the stories, Maugham observes people. He intrigues the reader or makes one laugh. Each story has a message, varying from the subtle and thoughtful to those that are blatant and obvious. One becomes downright silly. The messages reflect Maugham’s personal views on everything from love and marriage, personality types, political bigwigs to espionage. Maugham is drawing a picture of the life of a spy, illuminating the profession’s mundane, boring tasks and unexciting groundwork that sometimes, but not always, culminates in ruthless decisions and death, carried out by the spy and sometimes not. Spy work is teamwork and obeying one’s seniors. The absurd, the ridiculous and the deadly are to be observed in the stories.
Christopher Oxford reads the audiobook. The performance is good. It is not hard to follow.
I simply cannot fall in love with a collection of stories even interconnected ones.
This is a story for a child, not for the adult reading to a child. It comes nowhere near A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Isn’t it best when bothThis is a story for a child, not for the adult reading to a child. It comes nowhere near A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Isn’t it best when both the child and adult get a kick out of the shared reading experience?
The writing is ordinary, as is the content of the stories. What is drawn is a child’s world. A day at the beach, a birthday party, doing magic tricks. For a child, there may very well be delight in the ordinary. An inordinate number of calamities arise, all due to unintentional mistakes. Isn't this too typical of the life of a child?! The mistakes are smiled at and forgiven. The tone is kept light and cute and sweet. For a young child, the book may be fun, reading about a world they recognize. Paddington is a small bear, just as they are. He may be from the Darkest Peru, but he sees the world as they do.
After an excursion to London, a child may enjoy the book. Remembering mammoth escalators and elevators and the flea market on Portobello Road. The excitement and bustle of the place.
I am trying very hard to figure out what is good about the book.
Yet I am an adult. I find it childish and boring. I see no flair, no imagination and little creativity.
As I see it, the charm of Paddington is in the visual, in seeing him on the screen. His movements. His demeanor. Not the ordinary things he says and does.
I listened to the audiobook read by Stephen Fry. Set in London, I thought it being read by one with a British accent would be appropriate, and it was. He speaks clearly. A child will have no trouble understanding, but yet again, the reading was all very ordinary.
I like a little spark to a story. There is none of that here....more
A multigenerational saga about a family of country music fiddlers and song artists. We begin in the 1800s and conclude in the 1960s, with the countryA multigenerational saga about a family of country music fiddlers and song artists. We begin in the 1800s and conclude in the 1960s, with the country music star Katie Cocker. The pull of music is strong in the family. Religion equally so. We meet six generations of the family. As the years pass, we move from casual attachments of the heart and love affairs to flagrant adultery, drugs and the treacherous dealings of the music industry and infatuation with stardom. Eating, singing, fiddling progresses to drinking, fighting, swearing, physical abuse, sex and drugs. Murder, prison sentences, car explosions and incinerated vehicles too.
Look at the title--The Devil’s Dream. It has a message. It speaks of the evolution of music into modern times.
There are too many characters to feel attachment to any. We meet six generations worth. Some of the parents have as many as six kids, and the kids have kids and you get the picture. Great-grandparents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and half-siblings. Children born out of wedlock and those within. There are just too, too many to keep track of. By the end, I simply did not care anymore. One can deal with hard times and understand wrong choices IF one cares for the characters! Not caring for any of them, it was very hard to swallow the train of grueling events.
At the end, Katie finds salvation in God. This was for me the final straw on the camel’s back.
The humor fell flat for me. The gossipy tone annoyed me.
The best of the book is found at the beginning. The beginning reminded me of the author’s Oral History. Then the story goes downhill. It drags and drags and never seems to end.
I cannot recommend this book to anyone, not even those who love country music. It draws the music in a depressing and sordid light.
The audiobook has eight narrators. It is in fact a fullcast performance and is remarkably well done. Way above the ordinary. We hear the fantastic Sally Darling and the very good performances by Linda Stephens, Ruth Ann Phinister, Mark Hammer and Tom Stechschulte. I could not distinguish Christina Moore’s or Eliza Brezneham’s narration, but theirs and C.J. Critt’s performance were all good. The narrators sing wonderfully! The total narration I have given four stars.
This, Helen Rappaport’s latest book, looks at the flow of events that led to the last Romanovs’ incarceration and subsequent assassination on July 17,This, Helen Rappaport’s latest book, looks at the flow of events that led to the last Romanovs’ incarceration and subsequent assassination on July 17, 1918. It seeks to clarify what actually happened, separating fact from the rife speculations and confusion that has clouded history for a century. Who was killed and where and how and when? How did it come to be that the Romanovs, with family ties all over Europe, were not rescued? The blame game is played—who should be pointed at and who is at fault? King George V and even Mary his wife, Liberal British statesman David Lloyd George, the British Ambassador in Saint Petersburg Sir George William Buchanan, Kaiser Wilhelm, Alexander Kerensky, Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra and / or the other European reigning regents of the time? All are examined. The only figure not pointed at is Lenin, which is rather strange! King Alfonso of Spain is praised.
This is a book of history. It is dense, and it is thorough. It presents the latest information and is based on the author’s own extensive research. It focuses on politics rather than biographical content. Facts are presented in a well thought out, chronological and orderly fashion.
The audiobook has no PDF file, and thus maps, family trees and name lists are lacking. It is difficult to decipher the Russian. There are many Russian names and only being able to hear them rather than see them is difficult. The audiobook’s narrator, Damien Lynch, takes getting used to. The flow is choppy. He speaks quickly but pauses after every sentence. The pauses are in a way good because they give you time to think; there is much information to absorb. The book is very good, but I do not recommend it as an audiobook unless that is your only alternative.
In my view it is better to have read other books on the topic before tackling this.
It is a collection of poems. The poems have nothing to do with Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tiger,This book failed me totally.
It is a collection of poems. The poems have nothing to do with Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tiger, Owl, Kanga and Baby Roo. I do not think the poems will appeal to a child and they did not appeal to me, an adult. Skip this.
It is is not made magical even by the Peter Dennis' excellent audiobook narration....more