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Perfect

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-01-20

I didn't read any reviews, I didn't read the blurb, I mostly got The Dutch House because Tom Hanks was the narrator and I wanted to find out whether he was a good one. Of course he is - he's brilliant! The book was a lovely surprise; the first in my year of reading something 'different'.

Not knowing what the book was about, what period it was set in, or who the protagonist was it was great to let this story unfold. I'm not going to spoil it for you and say much about it, other than the characters, settings and situations were always believable and the storyline unpredictable, as life is. The house as the central defining and most affecting character in the book chimed with my personal experience and connected me emotionally to the story in an unexpected way.

The writing was fabulous - none of your flowery descriptions, no wasted words, just great storytelling. Loved it.

(A little PS about Tom Hanks - I really liked the way he introduced the Parts and Chapters; like he was trying to make saying 'Part One' or 'Chapter Three' just a bit more interesting - well, it made me smile.)

1 person found this helpful

Narration a Distraction

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-10-18

Val McDermid's book's are great - always page-turners, always well plotted and usually great characters. However, the characters in this were really hard to figure out and felt flat and I'm sure it's because of the narration. All the women sounded the same, unless they had a terrible accent. All the men sounded elderly and had terrible accents, unless they were Tony Hill, who sounded like a slightly younger version than the narrator, trying simultaneously to talk whilst having his bum pinched or trying not to fall off a tightrope. It's a shame because I thought Saul Reichlin did a great job narrating the Millennium Trilogy, but maybe he pulled it off because he sounds naturally kind of Nordic and nobody was from Newcastle, Glasgow or Liverpool. If you've got a tin ear for accents, maybe this won't be an issue for you, but for me it was a huge distraction. I still enjoyed the plot and the writing is great, but I think I will give the Hill/Jordan audiobooks a miss and read the rest in print.

Story great, narrator not for me

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-04-18

I enjoy this series of books, I'm always interested to see what's happening in the lives of the characters. The mystery always throws up a few surprises too. My issue is with the narrator - the reading is so clipped everyone comes across as cold and detached. In addition, Jane McDowell always sounds like she's gasping/positioning her tongue in the back of her mouth ready to utter each sentence, it's really off-putting. I want a great narrator who makes you forget they're there unless they are making the story come alive.

Literally loses the plot

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-08-17

I loved the premise for the book. It's well written, humorous and engaging to a point. I have tried to listen to We Are Legion twice and I've come unstuck at the same point both times. Whilst Bob is a charming character and the narration and dialogue are excellent, about a third of the way in, the plot (which was promising at the start) putters out.

If you are more interested in a technical/science-laden conversation between characters rather than a plot, then this is for you. You probably enjoyed The Martian too, whereas I couldn't see the woody plot for the techie talk trees.

A virtual museum

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-07-17

Whilst I'm interested in history, I almost exclusively read/listen to fiction so a non-fiction audiobook is a bit of a departure for me. This book has neither plot nor real characters to follow and I never would have thought clusters of facts about the medieval period and its people would hold my attention to the same extent as a good detective novel, but it does.

The listening experience is very like wandering round a museum, castle or stately home with an audio-guide, although rather than looking around at the various artefacts, your imagination supplies the view. A picture builds of daily life, the structure of society, attitudes towards different members, how fashions change over time and so on. It is fascinating.

Jonathan Keeble's narration is perfect.

Beautifully read

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-07-17

Reece Witherspoon's narration was perfect and along with Harper Lee's wonderful writing, made this a very easy listen in many ways. It was interesting to revisit the Finch family and see how they'd grown and changed - the flashbacks of the intervening years were the most charming aspects of the book.

*Spoilers*

Having said that, I wasn't really sure what Lee was striving for here. This was not so much a novel, but an allegory for discovering the fallibility of one's parents. Unfortunately, it also felt more like a lecture which, whilst Jean-Louise represents the values espoused by the Finch family in To Kill a Mockingbird, ultimately apologises for the segregationist viewpoint. I was uncomfortable with the last portion of the book because it suggested an intolerable viewpoint is somehow acceptable if held by the older and 'wiser'. Perhaps it reflects the time in which the book was written, but again, I'm not sure what the author set out to achieve.

Entertaining, gripping, but a little unbelievable

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-09-16

Liane Moriarty writes books that are as close to chicklit as I'd like to get...hers are far cleverer, have that mystery/twist thing going on and more credible characters and relationships than some vacuous nonsense I've tried and failed to read and enjoy.

The characters here are believable and shrewdly drawn and there's just the right amount of wry humour peppered throughout; it's properly clever and funny without appearing to try. Caroline Lee is the perfect narrator - between them, she and Liane Moriarty are very good at evoking a mental picture of every person.

As for the underlying premise, I did find it hard to believe that the mystery of 'The Munro Baby' could sustain enough interest to make a tourist attraction endure, let alone be lucrative for so many years. In addition, the solution to the mystery fell flat for me - the reveal in The Husband's Secret was a massive surprise, by contrast. However, if you suspend your disbelief on that score, it's still a page-turner that will more than hold your interest and reflects more realistically on the nature of family and the goings-on within.

I enjoyed this book, but would recommend The Husband's Secret, What Alice Forgot and Little Lies more highly.

1 person found this helpful

An excellent listen

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 30-11-15

Would you listen to The Husband's Secret again? Why?

Yes, even though the plot is out of the bag, I enjoyed all the characters and the narration so much, it's one I'll go back to.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Husband's Secret?

The contents of the letter - not what I expected at all.

What does Caroline Lee bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Well, Caroline Lee's Australian accent is so much better than my imaginary one, so I'd say a realistic voice for all the characters.

Any additional comments?

I wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as I did and I think it was because everything in it was believable and I found myself wondering how I would be reacting to different situations. The multi-perspective approach was just right to give depth to all the characters and the ways their stories intertwined.

The Vanishing Interest

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-10-15

This started out really well, but I felt it ran out of steam towards the end and I wasn't sure all ends were tied up. There were elements that were definitely not for children, but overall this did feel like a book for younger readers. To me, a better book in a similar vein would be Witch Child by Celia Rees. There were a few twists and turns here and there, but they were fairly predictable and the central character, Robert, wasn't very likeable.
The narration was excellent.

5 people found this helpful

Entertaining but not gripping

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-10-15

What did you like best about Skinny Dip? What did you like least?

The plot was interesting enough for me to want to finish the book and I most enjoyed the humour and characters, particularly the 'bodyguard' Toole, who had real depth. The least enjoyable aspect was the narration of the female characters - grating, harsh, whiny and caricature-like.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I'd probably change the narrator - I think it's Jeff Harding as announced on the soundtrack, although my library says it's Kerry Shale.

Any additional comments?

I'd had Carl Hiasson's books on a mental to-do list because the blurbs made them seem like my kind of thing, smart, funny crime novel, but I'm not as impressed as I'd expected to be and I'm not sure if it was the narrator or the book.

1 person found this helpful