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©2007 Iain Banks; (P)2007 Hachette Audio
"The most imaginative British novelist of his generation." (The Times)
This proved one of the most memorable listens of the past year and highly entertaining. The novel has a journey of personal discovery, a complex family saga, big business, alternative values and lifesyles, intrigue and a spice of good sex. However, the best feature is the superb reading by Peter kenny with a range of voices that presents the characters and situations to best effect. Very entertaining and comic in places - the maiden aunts are a delight and the failed Powerpoint presentation a lovely culture clash.
I really enjoyed listening to this. The plot unfolds gradually, moving both forwards towards the family vote over whether or not to sell off their company, and backwards to fill in the past and explain how the protagonist, Alban, came to be who he is. It's absolutely beautifully read: the reader manages to give a different voice to each character without falling into caricature. There are some very funny moments (Fielding giving a powerpoint presentation to the two elderly aunts was stand-out for me). My one reservation was that the ending wasn't really all that revelatory. I got the impression that it was meant to be a shock - it certainly seemed to surprise Alban - but I'd figured out the family secret a good while earlier.
Overall then, I'd say this is one of the best-read audio books I've encountered in a while, but not the best Iain Banks I've come across.
Peter Kenny's narration is superb as some of the other reviewers have mentioned. He beautifully renders personality, mood, accent, age and gender for all the diverse characters from Scottish hard man to dotty maiden aunt. The story is good - I didn't mind the narration hopping about and I think it actually added to the story. I did find it dragging a bit in the final quarter, hence the 4 stars rather than 5. I might have skipped a few pages had I been reading rather than listening. It's quite an episodic book, but the episodes are linked together by a common thread and the central character is likable and interesting enough to continue to engage. Overall, well worth the listen.
Self employed Architect. Listen whilst working and every night. Love sci fi, post Apocalypse, comedy, fantasy, historical & horror.
I thought I would enjoy this one more than I found I did. It seemed a bit slow to unfold and I took quite a while to complete listening to this one. I would have to rate it as just OK, not a bad listen but not a page turner either, pretty much the story of one mans life, which I found not too interesting at times.
I'd give it a few years and listen to it again.
The grandmother - could picture her so well.
Well cast for the narration - he put definition into the characters and his voice is easy on the ear
Yes but one has to live a little too.
After listening to the Wasp Factory, I was wary of Iain Banks's warped imagination. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this story. He might have been warped but he also had a keen eye for human nature and brought his characters to life without making them clichéd.
Brilliant. Sensitive. Absorbing.
It's detailed descriptions of places and people kept me enthralled from the first words. The way it is arranged in flashbacks is never confusing and I listened to it until late in the night, something I never do. It's very much a keeper and I am sure I will listen to it again. Not being a fan of science fiction, this was an Iain Banks I had never imagined and the first of his books I have ever bought as I always thought of him as a science fiction writer.
Peter Kenny gave voices to the characters that made them unforgettable. Alban's voice is still in my head. Kenny's accents were flawless.
It certainly was. I refused an invitation to a concert because I couldn't bear to leave it.
Although I had guessed the ending, it didn't detract in any way from the book itself.
Aside from the opportunity to rail against the US neocon foreign policy agenda, I was left at a bit of a loss by the rehashing of family disfunction and hidden tragedy. If you have read the wasp factory you will have experienced the same style.
once you get into it it is an absorbing tale of the family. there are lots of flashbacks which can some times confuse the listener.
but it is still an absorbing tale of dysfunctional family with a twist in the tail.
Iain Banks always writes a great story, but I was particularly impressed with Peter Kenny's characterisation. As this was a family gathering, there were a significant number of characters, all needing a slightly different vocal representation. I thought Peter managed this really well, providing subtle distinctions for each.
The book itself was interesting and somewhat entertaining. However, the whole story revolves around not being sure who fathered who, and that is evident from the very beginning.
In the final chapter, as expected, the truth is revealed...
But the assumption that the genetic test needed to prove parenthood is done using sperm rather than a simple skin sample, saliva, blood, or even hair, made me pretty depressed.
Who on earth would hire a hooker to have sex with a guy to collect his sperm in a condom for genetic testing when the saliva on a glass will do the trick??
Made me think the whole book was a great deal less worthwhile when part of the story is based on a misconception that could so easily have been avoided-
"Entirely enjoyable. More AudioBooks by Iain Banks?"
A great story line with enjoyable reading. This kept me listening non-stop ... then I started it over to listen a second time. Great character development.
But why aren't there more Iain Banks books recorded on Audible.com???
The book is entertaining, if a little self-indulgent in parts. It provides a funny insight into families born into money and the family firm. It's not a book I expected from Iain Banks, so don't go looking for sci-fi.
A recurring theme is unrequited love, and the message seems to be that one can delude oneself for a long time about the qualities of a past love. It is clever in that even while the characters are claiming to not have certain character flaws, they are in fact demonstrating them.
The narrator is excellent - he has really thought about how to best perform the book. The audio quality is also among the best on audible.
"the steep approach to garbadale"
very british, very funny and intelligent. beautiful reallife charcters and a swinging end
- pleasure to listen to, especially the scottish parts.
"Banks read by Kenny - a superb combination"
I've listened to a number of Bank's books read by Peter Kenny and all have been excellent. This book has an engaging plot and characters that seem genuine.
They were all excellent.
Kenny has a very clear speaking voice that is well modulated.
Some scenes in the book were very amusing, particularly Alban's awkward teenage experiences with his cousin.
More Banks / Kenny combinations please.
Great Narration, great story. It´s clever and unpretentious. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would heartily recommend it.The narration is superb.
Alban -- a sweet but broken, a wonderfully flawed and human character -- is in a war of attrition with his grandmother, the mater familias of large, wealthy family/business. At the age of 35, he is forced to come to terms with his life and his family. A great story, full of pitch perfect detail and dialog -- some passages are surprisingly, laugh-out-loud funny. Kenny does a great job with different UK accents, subtly positioning each character in terms of age, class and personality (his American and mid-Atlantic accents are kind of grating).
"A non SF story by Iain Banks."
Near the top. It's a good story. The actor reading it does a very good job. It's an enjoyable listen.
Tough question to answer.
I think I have, but I'm not sure. He's very good.
I listened to the story about a month ago. The lead character is the most memorable, but it's told from his pont of view, so that's no shock.
I HAVE READ ALL OF BANKS FICTION AND WISH MORE WAS AVAILABLE ON AUDIO ESP. AUDIBLE.
THIS WAS ENTERTAINING, BUT IT READ A LITTLE BETTER THAN WHEN I LISTENED TO IT. CHECK IT OUT.
It just blathered on and on. I will have to try other books by him. Nothing worked for me here. m
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