The First World War lasted 5 years or, when listening to this book, double that time. Follet's research was detailed and every single bit went into this book. I literally groaned aloud hearing the words 1916, knowing there was endless more detail to come. I fast-forwarded but relentlessly that damn war carried on. Why? Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong cannot be bettered and Follet who cannot pretend surely to be a good writer is no where near this standard. Things got better once the characters were shot of the war but it still took up far too much of the book, in my humble opinion.
I am told I have a good sense of humour. And I really like Alan Partridge and laughed a lot at his TV shows. Having read the lyrical reviews of this book I immediately clicked on Buy because heaven knows I need a good laugh. And ... I didn't even smile! So astounded at this, having got to chapter 5, I went back to the beginning to listen again. How could I be so against such a universally positive trend? I recognised a few fairly clever lines but honestly, hand on heart I didn't laugh. Not once. I fast forwarded in desperate search for something amusing but I didn't find it. So I never finished this book and who knows, the end chapters could be hilarious. But I wasn't tempted. And I remain with this puzzle: how could a Partridge fan, faced with 'best-ever for laughter' reviews, fail to find raise even a weak grin?
Essentially a good story though one which has appeared in other of his books - dead characters who aren't.. But in this book there is far too much extraneous description of things which do not advance the story one whit. Example: investigator going into the woods to get the information which was so important it could not be given over the phone, she had to be there. But lo, she is stopped by a boorish, over-zealous security man who will not let her in. Why did we have to have description of him, his face, his attitude etc etc? Finally he calls the Sheriff and we then get his description at length ... neither of these characters are relevant, indeed the security man disappears and the Sheriff makes one more appearance as a voice on the other end of the phone. Probably the author thought this would make us all the more eager to learn what was found in the woods. For this reader it led to irritated sighs and cries of "get on with it". Seems to me that writing a book every year is making this author redo his plots and then pad them out to the required word length. Not good enough, Harlan.
Good things first. Rosalyn Landor brilliantly reads this novel. She skips from being a 6 year old little girl to a stuffy butler to several disperate women. What a pity she had such poor material. I have really liked many of Julia Quinn's novels but the last few have been disappointing. Listening to this one on my ipod as I walked must have made passers-by stare at my eye-rolling, groans and sighs. (Just like Heaven? More like the other place!) Honoria, the heroine and Marcus the hero were uninspiring characters I thought. But oh the dialogue ... it went on forever. And getting nowhere. Just planning a lunch took many (boring) minutes. The story is fairly linear - girl knows boy all her life, thinks of him as brother until he is at death's door when they both make discovery that lurve has entered the building. I skimmed a lot so forgive me if there are gaps but read Julia Quinn's earlier novels and miss this one. (By the way I added one of the stars because I hope for better things from JQ)
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