Out of Practice is based around a large country medical practice, which proves to be a hotbed of rivalry, resentment and romance - and that's just the doctors. Think James Herriot meets House.
This is easy-going and comforting listening about people who it's easy to feel sympathetic towards living in a pleasant place. The story is adequately engaging (after the initial couple of chapters) and I enjoyed that there were several plots and sub-plots to get into. It felt a bit like a pre-watershed soap on TV but with more of a story arc.
Personally I enjoyed dipping in and out of this (i.e. having it on in one room whilst going off to do other things and coming back) and found that I could pick up the general gist of the story this way easily enough. I can't say that this is in any way a literary classic but if you're looking for well-written chick lit for a cosy night in then this is your book.
Narration: on the whole very good though the female characters were a lot more believable than the male characters.
Tiny gripe: the use of American words such as 'band-aid' was a little jarring. Not sure why there were several of these (is the author American?) but it sounded odd in the context of the story.
The last collection of true-life nursing stories from the number one best-selling author of the Call the Midwife series, soon to be a major BBC TV series. Jennifer Worth's best-selling memoirs of her time as a midwife have inspired and moved readers of all ages. Now, in In the Midst of Life she documents her experiences as a nurse and ward sister, treating patients who were nearing the ends of their lives.
Fewer stories, more personal opinion than in the rest of the Call the Midwife series. Interesting, necessary as a topic of discussion and Jennifer Worth has some good and thought-provoking insights, but the topic (death) is hard-going and I wasn't as keen to get through it as the other of her books. Still worth a listen but maybe start with some of her earlier books.
The inspiration for the second series of the BBC's phenomenally popular Call the Midwife, starring Miranda Hart. In this follow-up to Call the Midwife, Jennifer Worth, a midwife working in the docklands area of East London in the 1950s, tells more stories about the people she encountered. There's Jane, who cleaned and generally helped out at Nonnatus House - she was taken to the workhouse as a baby and was allegedly the illegitimate daughter of an aristocrat.
If like me you have listened to and enjoyed Call the Midwife, you might be expecting the same sort of sad but ultimately uplifting cosy listening from this book. Be warned - this is not the same book! The stories are invariably harrowing and distressing, though the same thread of love and friendship continues. I'm not sure what they cut out to make this abridged version, was it more or less hardship and suffering? Maybe it was the general everyday life as Jennifer Worth experienced it at Nunatis House, which I feel was lacking in this book. I tend to listen in bed (so may have fallen asleep for parts) but don't remember there being any context for some of the stories, especially about young children, which I'm sure were based on real life but it was hard to understand how these had come to be related to Jennifer Worth.
Nevertheless it was once again a valuable insight into a completely different world, thankfully one that has long-since passed in this case. I don't regret buying the book.
The reading is sensitive and nuanced but a little slow, with some slightly strange accents in parts.
Jennifer Worth came from a sheltered background when she became a midwife in the Docklands in the 1950s. The conditions in which many women gave birth just half a century ago were horrifying, not only because of their grimly impoverished surroundings but also because of what they were expected to endure. But while Jennifer witnessed brutality and tragedy, she also met with amazing kindness and understanding, tempered by a great deal of Cockney humour.
Not at all soppy as you might expect - a snapshot of the lives of eastenders as seen by an outsider, who recounts her own changing impressions, stories from her day to day life and stories from the lives of the people she meets with a perceptive eye. The writing is evocative but in a blunt, matter of fact way. There are some really astounding stories mixed with quite touching moments of reflection.
The narration is truly excellent, especially if you are a fan of the narrator putting on voices. My only gripe would be the pronunciation of 'docklands' which is a bit odd.
Time to try the TV series?
‘Remember, remember, the fifth of November’. The gunpowder plot is a famed tale of treachery that continues to fascinate and capture the imagination four hundred years on. The Gunpowder Plot in an Hour reveals the elaborate background to the infamous plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and James I, the ultimate act of treason.
A timely listen, given the recent attack on Westminster. I'm not sure if there are parallels to be drawn between the two instances but it certainly has given pause for thought.
Interesting too to get some more detailed background on Bonfire Night, which is an unavoidable part of growing up in England, especially on the other less famous plotters.
Jonathan Keeble reads well, as ever, though he does have a tendency to say the word 'Protestantism' quite oddly ('Protest-ANT-ism'), which does grate a bit given the word's frequency.
All in all though, another good value listen from this series.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
In the summer of 1990, Cathy's brother, Matty, was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out, two weeks before receiving his GCSE results. Sitting by his unconscious body in hospital, holding his hand and watching his heartbeat on the monitors, Cathy and her parents willed him to survive. They did not know then that there are many fates worse than death.
When I first heard this book existed, I wondered how it could come about that you would kill your own brother or son, not realising that in reality, the young man who was Cathy Rentzenbrink's brother was being kept alive somewhat artificially, and really not having any kind of quality of life, despite his family's absolute best efforts. If you're interested in the workings of familial love, moral dilemmas and the punishing effects of trauma, you'll enjoy this book. Small parts are, dare a say, a little tedious, like the end chapter - one gets the impression that Retzenbrink still feels an immense amount of guilt and wants to show, to herself as much as anyone else, that she really did love her brother and did what she thought was best for him. Of course she did. What shines through this book is the love that she and her family had and have for Mattie and how much they cherished him and wanted him alive. Most of the book is a captivating insight into the family dynamics, thought-processes, practicalities and most of all fluctuating, difficult feelings that come with caring for a person in a persistent vegitative state. The only tedium comes at the end, and not because the conclusion is, as you'd expect, that there isn't much conclusion - time heals a little, but grief is ever-present. The tedium is that one wants to meet Cathy and say 'I know you can't stop yourself from feeling sad, but objectively, you shouldn't feel guilty. You really did do right by your brother'. Cathy, if you're reading, you're an inspiration!
Also, great narrator!
EDIT: I've been thinking about this book and my review a lot, which shows how good it is! 'Tedious' was maybe too strong a word, and in a way what i found tedious did give a good sense of what it's like to experience trauma - the boredom of feeling guilty all the time, about everything.
'Fascinating' as a title is apt, but it is also avery moving and insightful book.
Lastly, although I accused Retzenbrink of seeking approval in her ending, it's not for me or other readers to give it - maybe something she knows and certainly something I've taken away from the book upon reflection.
Anyway, super-long review - in short, listen to this book!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself.
Krakauer eloquently explores the life of enigmatic Chris McCandless, who in a search for truth and from a dissatisfaction with the tedium of life, undertook an epic journey across North America, ultimately leading to his death. Krakaur's approach is balanced and journalistic -he supports assumptions and suppositions with copious research and the testimony of friends, family and the strangers that McCandless happened across on his adventure. The resulting book is not only fascinating for the facts it succinctly describes but also, and mostly, the insight it gives into the mindset of an intellectual, idealistic young man bent on proving his worth and finding truth. It poses questions about what it is to be a young man, what it is to live in modern society, whether human beings need company and what it is to live in the shadow of one's parents, amongst others. The first chapter or so takes a little while to gergert into, but if you're iike me you will soon be completely hooked!
Love history? Know your stuff with History in an Hour. Nicknamed ‘The Anarchy' for its unprecedented levels of chaos and disorder, the succession crisis that followed the death of King Henry I in 1135 resulted in England's first civil war. The Medieval Anarchy: History in an Hour neatly covers all the major facts and events giving you a clear and straightforward overview of the plots and violence that ensued during the the nineteen-year conflict.
At times the complicated power battles in this tale of conflict do become a little difficult to follow, but I never lost a good overall picture of Mathilda, Steven and their family and supporters. I now know a lot more about this fascinating period of history. The quality of the writing,creating and recording are excellent. Well worth a few pounds.
The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed . If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs....
I feel it's a bit unfair to rate before finishing listening, but I'm really struggling to get over the narrator's English accent (I am English), which seems inauthentic against the story, which is clearly set in a distopian North America and uses jargon that sounds really incongruous when said by an English person. If you can get over this, give this book a go, I guess!
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
Animal Farm is George Orwell's great socio-political allegory set in a farmyard where the animals decide to seize the farmer's land and create a co-operative that reaps the benefits of their combined labours. However, as with all great political plans, some animals see a bigger share of the rewards than others and the animals start to question their supposed utopia.
This was my first time reading/listening to Animal Farm and you can see what all the fuss is about! A very simple, predictable (if you know a bit about history) story but very effectively told by Orwell with a stoic tone that added a lot to my understanding how people/animals(!) come to accept despotic leaders. Simon Callow reads excellently, with perfect voices for different characters.