©2007 Iain Banks; (P)2007 Hachette Audio
"The most imaginative British novelist of his generation." (The Times)
"One of the best audio books"
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.
"Good story, great narration"
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.
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.
"Sadly poor research.."
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-
"Not one of his best"
If this is your first Banks book I'd suggest you try another, this really isn't one of his best. If you're feeling adventurous try one of his sci fi books, under the name of Ian M(!) Banks. He's one of the, if not the, most accomplished contemporary sci fi writer.
"Wasp factory rehash"
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.
"the tale of a family"
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.
"Good novel, superb reading"
Often funny and always engaging, 'The Steep Approach to Garbadale' is a beautifully written romance cum mystery cum family saga. Ultimately, the solution to the mystery is pretty predictable and if I were being very harsh I would say that the parts of this novel are better than the whole, but these are quibbles. The vivid characters and their interactions are the main thing and this reader certainly found himself engrossed in their stories and caring deeply about their fates.
I heartily agree with what has already been said about Peter Kenny's superb reading. It really is a tour de force, as he gives each character their own voice, perfectly reflecting their age, sex, social background and national or regional accent. It's a joy to listen to him and he perfectly brings out the humour in the comic set pieces. He deals admirably with more subtle scenes and emotions too. Wonderful stuff.
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