©2004 George Hagen; (P)2004 Books on Tape
"A family story on speed, with a jolt of black comedy that makes it a close relative to that greatest of all American family stories, The Simpsons." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A funny, touching novel about the meaning of family." (Publishers Weekly)
"Mr. Hagen has shaped an affectionate family portrait in which the characters come vividly to life, no matter how adrift they may be." (The New York Times)
The characters stay with you though it may be due as much to the identities created by Richard Matthews' narration as the written word. This book certainly stays on my virtual bookshelf.
The wrily funny observation of events and rights of passage make this novel sound as autobiographical as novels of the genre of To Kill A Mockingbird - you become part of the community as a listener.
Perhaps Richard Matthews narration is probably what brings this audio book to life - he manages to create characters that have substance, with their own accents and intonations, and that remain identifiable throughout.
So many times when listening to this book while commuting on public transport I found myself laughing out loud and, on a couple of occasions, misting up.
My only question at the moment? Where's the sequel? There's a timeline and stepping off point established at the end of this very entertaining novel.
This was one of the most enjoyable novels I have read in a while. I can't exactly say why I enjoyed this book so immensely. Perhaps, the story of this family that picks up and moves to different parts of the world every few years strikes a chord for how we all sometimes experience the feeling of being an outsider. Who but an outsider can appreciate the dysfunctionality that everyone else inside a culture takes for granted? Who but an outsider can feel the loss of not belonging? This is a quick-paced, very entertaining book. While it has its share of tragic moments, it is also full of "laugh out loud" humor, intelligent asides, and dialogue that rings true. The characters of all ages - from the young children to the grandmother - vividly drawn. The narrator did an excellent job. He not only gave each character a voice, but changed accents (South African, British, American) adroitly.
"Reminded me of a John Irving novel"
I tremendously enjoyed this audiobook and was constantly thinking of how very John Irving-like the story seemed....it's a bit weird, with tragic moments presented in a very unsentimental way. Seems contemporary and realistic even in its portrayal of the past, very appealing, drew me in immediately. The reader does a good job and I would be very eager to read another book by this author or to hear this narrator again.
"I loved this book."
I read this book in hardcover and then listened to it again. It was even better the second time around. George Hagen has an engaging style and kept my interest from start to finish. I hope that he will write more in the future.
My book group really liked this book. The characters were interesting, and the Laments' saga made for engaging discussion.
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