Painter, jeweller, teacher. Passionate listener to audiobooks and reader of print books.
A wonderful listen: The Night Watch
This is a wonderful listen - atmospheric and beautifully read. The most remarkable aspect of the book is the incredibly detailed description Sarah Walters gives of London during the bombing, and how sympathetically she describes the suffering and anguish of the characters. Throughout, I kept wondering whom she had talked to and how she had found out so much about what it felt like to live through that time. Most interesting of all is the way in which she subtly makes the reader reflect on how important the 1940s were for the way that people's lives changed because of the war. Although she never makes any overt statement, you feel that the characters, many of whom do not conform to social norms, were able to live freer lives than before the war and that attitudes towards them, after the war, would gradually change. Waters is excellent on people's little embarrassments. She describes how women did not like being seen going to the lavatory and how, when at work, they were not allowed to go to the lavatory except at specified times. These details, and the details about makeup and the petty tyrannies of the typing pool are what make one feel she must have talked to people and not just read about what it was like to live at that time. There are so many questions one would like to ask the author, that the interview with her at the end is a real disappointment, focusing on her schooling and sexuality rather than immense learning and her wonderful evocation of people and a period of which she can have had absolutely no personal experience.
This is a listening experience not to be missed! It’s true that the first three books (the first download) are not the best, but I’m giving 5 stars to the whole series because you have to get to grips with the first books in order to understand the whole series. Powell introduces nearly all the characters in the first books and you really have to work your way through the 12 books quite fast in order to remember who is who. Recognised as a 20th century classic, A Dance to the Music of Time holds up a mirror to a certain part of British society in the mid-20th century. It is completely compulsive. Once you have got to know the characters they take on depth and as you listen you become increasingly intrigued and involved in the story. Where the books are at their best is in the mid century, when they describe the war years and then the late 40s. With a very light touch, they evoke both post-war depression (gloomy, dark streets) and post-war optimism (new magazines and art movements). As things gradually get better in London, and Britain in general, the story comments on the major social improvements of the period, and some of the truly weird things which happened in the 60s and 70s – explaining, without judging, both the paranoia of some and the search for an alternative society of others. Simon Vance’s reading is masterly – every character has his or her own voice. He keeps faith with the main character, Nick, who looks on but never judges. This is not however, a bodice ripper – only a brilliant explanation of the 20th century. As far as listening is concerned it’s one of the very best books I’ve ever listened to – absolutely absorbing - you don’t want it to end, but it’s also one of those books you can just start all over again!
Don't miss this brilliant book. This is certainly the most exciting listen I've had from Audible for a long time. Some of it is very bleak in a Sansom-ish sort of way, but the story soon picks up and you just can't stop listening - I won't give away any of the plot but stick with it for the first hour or so and you will not be disappointed.