LISTENER

Alison

  • 122
  • reviews
  • 412
  • helpful votes
  • 165
  • ratings

A new-to-me author, and I loved this gentle story

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

Reviewed: 12-05-20

Really, this is a linked series of short stories. Olive is sometimes central, sometimes she just walks past in the grocery store. What really is charming is the way, often, nothing much happens, but sometimes, momentous events take place. And it is all very gentle. Which is not to say it avoids hard truths and sad situations, but these are also dealt with in a matter-of-fact and calm way.

I liked the narration a lot. Not too hurried, and with a good range of character voices, both female and male.

I listened to this, and the follow-on book, during lock down in the UK and I found them really rather comforting listening.

What An Exceptional Book

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

Reviewed: 31-03-20

The core of this story - and it's not a spoiler to say it is a child who is the centre-point - is constant throughout the book but the weaving of the many sub-plots is exceptional.

Each character, small or big though their role may be in the story, is made vividly alive by the author. She has an incredible gift for economy of description, but combined with really beautiful writing.

The stories are gripping in themselves but it was the characters I loved, and the descriptive passages.

I was very sorry indeed to finish it, though the endings were provided and I approved of them, always a bonus after spending so long on a book!

The narration made a great listen even better. Faultless. I do really recommend this as a lovely period of escapism.

The subject probably deserves a better treatment

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

Reviewed: 27-03-20

I listened after reading it for a book club, in order to get a better overall mental picture of the plot. Which is a fair plot, really. The suspense is well managed, but my main problem was that I saw the plot twist coming very early on. So early, that when it was finally 'revealed' I was starting to think I'd guessed wrong. But I was right. It's not that I am good at plot guessing, it's just not subtle.

For a book about sexual assault, victims, perpetrators, and process, and a book that is delivered with several narrative voices, the thing that was missing for me was the voice of the alleged rape victim herself. At no time does she speak other than in court. We know nothing about her, and so her role is essentially just to be the victim, voiceless. But without whom there would be not much of a story. Now maybe that was an intentional feature by the author. I don't think so, but it is glaring. The author does a great job at making you hate most of the people involved.

Posh, English narration from all the voices, which I suppose is right for the depiction of posh, privileged and often very sleazy people.

The end, I thought, was weak.

Good Tale, a Proper Story

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

Reviewed: 27-03-20

I really enjoyed the relatively fast pace of what is just a good story - or rather, two stories that run alongside each other and cross paths. There are some other interesting side-tales too.

The writing is very evocative - you feel as if you are there, in the French countryside.

Characters are evolved rather than dashed off by the author. Their real natures and the lives that have shaped them - into whatever they are, monsters, egotists, victims - are drawn out as the story line plays out. And some of them are not what they may seem. There are few likable actors here, but it doesn't matter because they are so interesting and vivid.

It also has a proper ending, of which I approved.

Faultlessly read, and that enhanced the whole thing.

The first book left me wanting to hear more

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

Reviewed: 24-02-20

Julie certainly had an incredible childhood and early adulthood. That is dealt with in the first volume, 'Home'. Mature way beyond her years, I felt she had to cope as an adult because so often, the actual adults in her life just let her (and others) down. Her stoic nature just shone through then and it continues in this second volume. But the way she was able to cope with extended separations from her own family must, I felt, have been influenced by her own disjointed childhood.

Her personal life does seem to have been often fraught and painful, but she does not shy away from it.

Very interesting and honest.

Probably the most boring of the series

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

Reviewed: 24-02-20

Probably the most boring of the series and for that reason, I think I will stop here. I love the witty writing (and I'd never read it, in real life so having it read to me is ideal) but this one just became tedious. In fact, I gave up about 2/3rds in.

Beautifully read, as ever.

Long, rambling and confused

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

Reviewed: 24-02-20

There were far too many disjointed, or adjacent, and overlapping story lines. And even for a book dealing with magical realism and ghosts, the coincidences made me laugh out loud in places. Ridiculous. I really feel like I wasted my time. I also read the actual book (for a book club) and then I listened to this in order to try and sort the muddle out in my head, but it only helped a bit. I think the story was just weak and it fizzled out with a lot of unanswered questions.

I suppose in the end, the main character was the house. I hope so because it was the only main character I didn't actively dislike.

The narration was OK. It felt rushed here and there, but given the material, I think that is understandable.

Better than some of the recent Anne Tyler books

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

Reviewed: 24-02-20

I think this is a big step up from some of the other recent Anne Tyler books. There is the trade-mark meandering story, and the pace is fast as it tackles the early years. Some deftly drawn characters, and a kind of an ending. Not bad.

The narration is good, it suits the character of the book.

Lovely, and Long 'Short' Stories

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

Reviewed: 04-09-19

This collection is great. It captures the art of what I think WSM did best - rather extended short stories. They are mostly long enough to really build the plots, create many characters, and lead you through a proper story, but end with you wanting a bit more. This collection covers a lot of ground: love, marriage, honour, and adventure - often with a bit of humour.

The narration from Robert Powell perfectly matches the period and the settings. Very good.

2 people found this helpful

Not As Good As I Remembered

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

Reviewed: 04-09-19

I read all WSM's books and short stories in my teens and early 20s and now I am gradually re-visiting those that are available here. I remembered Mrs C as one of my favourites - and it's still got its charms, but probably the passage of (quite a lot of!) time, has dulled it for me. But still I liked the old-fashioned story, and I still liked the ending a lot.

There are no characters to really warm to. Just as you think Mrs C is going to do something resolute or make a reasonable decision, she flunks it, and that does make you sort of not care much. And I absolutely detested Mr C by the 3rd hour - just as I did when I was 18. Nevertheless, it has a plot and an ending, and a lot of contemporary 'atmosphere' so it's a fairly pleasant 10 hours. .

Well read by a narrator I did not know before but who I think gets the characters right.