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Heloise

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The Light Behind the Window cover art

Melodramatic at times

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

Reviewed: 25-04-15

A romantic novel, veers into the melodramatic and I could never warm to the heroine , Emilie de la Martinières, who was so passive at times. The back story of the SOE in France during WWII has been featured many times in other novels and it's a pity the author did not research the historical sources more carefully. An agent would never be given her alias as she stepped onto the plane to be dropped in France.

Endearing

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

Reviewed: 09-04-15

An introduction to the Cazalets and their, as yet, unremarkable lives. Lives lived in southern Britain in the late 1930s, a cocooned, safe, upper-middle class existence that seemed at times to invoke an Edwardian lifestyle rather than a modern one. A world where servants pandered, food was plentiful and excessive, the family dressed for dinner and children were obedient and deferential. Despite the comforts, life was simple for the young. A strangely hypnotic novel, splendid in its detail and sense of place.

7 people found this helpful

'The Past is Obdurate'

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

Reviewed: 29-03-15

What did you like best about 11.22.63? What did you like least?

If you don't get that the 'The Past is Obdurate' by the time you have finished this over-long tale of time travel then you can't have been listening. It is repeated ad nauseum.

Would you be willing to try another book from Stephen King? Why or why not?

No, first and last. I skimmed though many chapters in the central section of this book because the portrayal of Jake's life in Jodi, Texas and his romance with Sadie Dunhill, a fellow teacher was just plain boring. I tired of hearing of the minutiae of life in Texas in late 50s, early 60s America, brand names, car models etc held no interest for me. The first part of this novel, when Jake first falls 'down the rabbit hole' and makes the transition from 2011 back to 1958 was truly fascinating and I loved it.

Did Craig Wasson do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

He did, although I found some of his interpretations of characters particularly difficult to understand.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Maybe. A lot of the descriptive stuff which is so boring would then become visual. The plot is certainly good material, going back in time to stop Lee Harvey Oswald assassinating JFK in Dallas.

Any additional comments?

As I noted, the relationship between Jake and Sadie is so Mills and Boon that it grated. We get that she was the love of Jake's life, but give me a break.

I never listen to abridged versions of a novel, but this book would be a prime candidate. I wish I had found an abridged version.

Battle of Britain In fiction

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

Reviewed: 29-03-15

Would you listen to The Darkest Hour again? Why?

Loved the narrator, very pleasant voice.

What other book might you compare The Darkest Hour to, and why?

Well, it is a book on the Battle of Britain, a fictional account of the combat between the RAF and the LUftwaffe in the early days of the Second World War. So the only other book I have listened to with a WWII setting was 'All the Light We Cannot See' and this story is not as good.

Have you listened to any of Sandra Duncan’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No, I haven't.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I would never listen to a book in one sitting, no matter how good it was.

Any additional comments?

This is a very entertaining book. It captures the listener's attention from the beginning, The storyline is clever, just enough of the paranormal inserted to not turn off the skeptic, and in some parts is truly scary. It's the story of a fictional woman painter during WWII who desperately wants to be one of the Offiical War Artists commissioned by the Ministry of Defence but does not want to be pigeonholed into the traditional women's role of painting other women at work in factories, the Land Army etc etc. Evie Lucas wants to paint the men of the RAF like her brother Rafe, who are stationed in an airfield not far from her parent's farm in the Sussex Downs. And that's where she falls for the handsome Scot, Tony Anderson. The novel slips back and forth between the storyline in the 1940s and the present day, where Lucy Standish is the owner of the gallery that sold Evie's paintings in the 1940s.

A flawed masterpiece

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

Reviewed: 20-10-14

If you could sum up The Goldfinch in three words, what would they be?

A flawed masterpiece

Who was your favorite character and why?

Probably Hobie, for his generosity, wisdom and his humanity

Which character – as performed by David Pittu – was your favourite?

Boris

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Many, see below

Any additional comments?

I adored Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” and have been waiting for her to finish another novel for years. “The Goldfinch” was published late last year and I bought it from Audible rather than reading it on my Kindle. Thought it would make an admirable companion for knitting, and this gutsy, rich, Dickensian novel (and, yes, it owes a lot to “Great Expectations”) that covers so much ground and brims with memorable characters is unforgettable. Not that it is without its faults, I tired of the descriptions of endless teenage drug and alcohol binges in the central section that is set in the sandy wastelands of suburban Las Vegas with its empty MacMansions and empty, gambling addicted souls. And I didn’t much care for the central character Theo, who makes so many bad choices throughout this 700 page epic that I wanted to reach through the ether and give him a bloody good shake, but then he loves his dog, so he couldn’t have been all bad.

The story opens with the aforementioned Theo as a young boy who survives a terrorist bombing in a museum ( a thinly disguised New York Metropolitan) and escapes with a valuable painting which becomes his albatross for the rest of the novel. This opening section is exquisitely written, Tartt’s command of the English language laid bare for the reader/listener to admire. This book covers art and history, music, philosophy, crack, drugs and Russian drug dealers (too much detail for my taste), Proust, the loyalty of one small, scruffy white dog, woodwork and the restoration of antiques, the very rich, mental illness, and the bonds that join people forever. My favourite character is Hobie, who is more of a father figure to the adolescent and adult Theo than his biological father could ever be, but I also was captivated by his teenage fellow experimenter in all things forbidden, the multi-layered Boris. There probably are real people out there who are just like Boris, but he does come across as a stereotypical composite of all things Slavic, hard-drinking, brutal, drug-dealer, underworld connections etc etc. but he is also a genius, has a predilection for reading and quoting Dostoevsky, speaks and swears in several languages fluently, has a heart of gold (well, for those he loves anyway) and an amazing liver.
There are no short-cuts in this novel, nothing is two-dimensional. However, I do believe that it would have benefitted from an editorial blue pen, especially in the middle section. If you do stick with it, and opinion seems divided about whether that is worth it or not, I guarantee you won’t forget this book. Tartt’s prose moves from being heart-stoppingly beautiful, certain phrases made me catch my breath and rewind just to hear them again ,while other sections were stultifying, boring and just badly written.

The narration was superb.

Enthralling story

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

Reviewed: 26-09-14

What made the experience of listening to All the Light We Cannot See the most enjoyable?

I would give the narrator 9/10 for her reading of this novel. There were a couple of strange pronunciations (mitochondria is one I remember) but overall very good.

What did you like best about this story?

The characters, they were wonderful. Loved the relationship between Marie-Laure, her father, Uncle Etiennne and the housekeeper. Werner was well drawn, and I really gained a sense of his inner conflict, especially in his relationship with his friend Frederick at the Reich training school. Good research by the author.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

None in particular, there were so many.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Marie-Laure's experiences in the attic of the house towards the end of the siege of Saint-Malo

Any additional comments?

Beautifully written, lyrical prose by a very talented writer.I have only given the story 4 stars because of the last few chapters and the ending. I didn't like the rapid transition to the present day, felt it quite spoiled the whole ambience of the novel.

2 people found this helpful

Accents just awful

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

Reviewed: 28-11-13

What disappointed you about Down Under?

The story was boring, it was full of stereotypes.

What was most disappointing about Bill Bryson’s story?

The narrator's pathetic attempt at an Australian accent

Would you be willing to try another one of William Roberts’s performances?

No

What character would you cut from Down Under?

This was non-fiction!

Any additional comments?

No.

1 person found this helpful