Wakefield, United Kingdom | Member Since 2012
I wasn’t finding this a particularly easy book to read (or at least to listen to) until I was about halfway through. Then something clicked, and I realised what it was about the writing that felt strange: there’s no plot - or should I say that the plot is so old and well known that the author doesn’t bother with it. The characters are real people from our past and their life stories are history: set in stone, in a thousand textbooks, their fates are already decided, even if it's only us - the readers - that know it. And Hilary Mantel presumes we do, and so, freed from twisting and shaping a plot, she concentrates on their language: their thoughts and inner voices; the words they might have spoken; even their body language is used to take us deep into their lives and motivations, and Hilary Mantel certainly can write. Whether it’s Thomas More intellectualising his inhumanity or a coarse fisherman going on about some prostitutes her writing is fluid and believable.
Thomas Cromwell was unknown to me before I started Wolf Hall but now I’ve got the feeling that he’s going to stay with me as one of the great (non?) fictional historical characters. (I don’t know, or really care, if this is a true portrait of Thomas Cromwell, but the author made a great decision by putting him at the heart of this pivotal moment in history.)
He’s a wonderfully complex man: his fidelity to his friends, family, masters and ideals contrasts with the ruthlessness of his politics; his drive to free England of the shackles of Rome is bizarrely made possible by the whims of his King, and he accepts this and uses it; and most of all, his comfortableness with the commoners combines beautifully with his ability to motivate and manipulate his betters.
The narrator - Simon Slater - gives every character their own distinctive voice and he adds depth, menace or lightness as needed. So, overall, not an easy read but a beautiful and worthy challenge.
Tad Williams set himself quite a task writing a detective noir novel set in heaven, but I think he pulls it off quite nicely. The narration is spot on, getting just the right level of humour in the darkness, and the writing is rich with one-liners and smart descriptions. Overall, pretty damn fine - on to the next one ...
This was my first political autobiography, and, sheesh, it's a doozy! She's a remarkable woman, and I hope that America realises it. Superb!
Wall Street, the icon of global capitalism, is a fraud, and Michael Lewis does a fantastic job of steering us through the convoluted scams at its 'heart'. A marvellous read - excellently narrated - that reads like a parody, except, sadly, it's true.
Michael Lewis somehow manages to successfully merge the characters and the bizarre financial creations they personify (or is it the other way round ...?) Brilliant storytelling - documentary noir - that evokes actual visceral responses to the sheer audacity of the utter illogical, disgusting revoltingness of the "Masters of the Universe". Read it.
Sir Pratchett's strength has never been Plot, but rather in the dynamism of his characters and how they react, in their all too human way, to the ever-changing world they find themselves in, and, in Raising Steam, they confront an array of new-fangled ideas and mechanisms that bear a striking resemblance to those we face in our little Roundworld, such as terrorism, gender identity, atavism, HS2 and, well, modern life in all its messy marvellousness. It's a fast paced book, brilliantly narrated, and though it's not one of Sir Terry's classics, it's still bloody great.
A brutal and marvellous re-telling of the classic dark tale of betrayal and destiny. Loved it!
I'm still none the wiser as to how the financial world's complex creations actually work, or how the Masters of The Universe get away with what seems to me to be nothing but gambling, but this book did challenge my general view that the econosphere is basically evil and bad for society in general. The rise of civilisation - seen through the prism of the financial markets - is certainly dependent on the movement of huge amounts of cash, and there's no doubting that our general prosperity and way of life is, to a large degree, due to the evolution of the markets, but what is certain is that the folks at the top of the money pile need a whole lot of regulation and accountability so as to reign in their all-too-human tendencies to get carried away with their schemes. A very interesting and thought-provoking book, well narrated.
To read or not to read? Easy - read the damn thing! A superb novelisation of one of the greatest works of literature in the English language, and brilliantly narrated too. Onto Macbeth now ...
I love Big History, and this 26 hour long blitz through the rise and rise of humanity - in all its multifarious and nefarious cultural forms - is pure bliss. Andrew Marr has basically taken the best bits from the best history books and strung them together into one very readable narrative. I don't think there's anything particularly ground-breaking here, but it successfully and entertainingly contextualises and compares the empires, technologies and memes that have shaped the society we find ourselves in now. An excellent story, well narrated - read it and feel glad you don't live back then.
To pay taxes, or not to pay taxes, that is the question ... To which the corporate, international financial and global criminal fraternity have answered with a resounding No. This is a wonderfully dark tale of money eating itself and spewing out more, on which it then feeds and grows, warping the laws and norms of civil society to their own needs to the point that all we can do is willingly, though blindly, throw ourselves into it to feed its relentless greed. A fascinating, inspiring and depressing book - brilliantly narrated, though poorly produced - that has left me angry and thoroughly intrigued. Read it. Then read it again.
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