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LilyRose

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Superb writing

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

Reviewed: 10-10-17

The quality of Sarah Water's writing is extraordinary - the next book I went on to felt clunky and heavy and clumsily put together in comparison. She writes so elegantly and conjures up a heady atmosphere of forbidden love and anguish. One thing Waters does superbly is evoke the lasting consequences for everyone left behind after the First World War. There's a strong sense of anticlimax for those left behind - what was all that struggle and loss for? This isn't a rip-roaring thriller - it's a slow burning build-up to a climax which feels almost inevitable when it happens. The main thrust of the story is Frances' feelings and emotions - her sense of being trapped and of lost opportunties, a life wasted. Clutching on to tiny shreds of happiness, she lives a conflicted life, concealing her true feelings and wishing for an escape. Juliet Stevenson reads this book beautifully - she has just the right notes of earnestness, wistfulness, flashes of anger and grief to convey the main character vividly. Her accents when portraying the other characters are also excellent and bring them to life well. I felt the last third of the story was perhaps a little less satisfying in its plot, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and looked forward to my next chance to listen to it.

A Bit Disjointed

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

Reviewed: 17-03-17

I love Marian Keyes and always look forward to her books. This one was enjoyable, but not her best. It was an interesting idea to explore how someone feels with the locked-in illness the main character gets, but it didn't seem to fit with the way the rest of the story progresses. It felt a bit like two great novel ideas melded together into one, but not terribly successfully. Some of the characters were good (Georgie, Gilda), but I never quite felt the connection between the two leads. Still, it's a Marian Keyes book, so it's still ten times better than many others out there and I'll still buy the next one.

Black Swan Green cover art

Enjoyable, if unsatisfying

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

Reviewed: 07-10-16

Beautifully written, as always, but the story didn't really take off in any direction in particular. The narrator is a young teenage boy and the novel follows him for a year as he negotiates difficult parents and school bullies. It's light in tone and pretty funny in many places, particularly when what the boy is saying and what is clear is happening can be quite far apart at times. It could have done with some better editing - there are odd and overlong pauses, sometimes in the middle of sentences. But the reader is good and brings the character to life realistically, so it isn't a great problem. Overall, enjoyable, but not his best.

Glorious and bittersweet

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

Reviewed: 10-08-16

Another great book from David Nicholls. Well-drawn characters, with all their human characteristics of being annoying and being lovable, populate this tale of a marriage in crisis. Told from the point of view of Douglas, the husband taking his family on a supremely well-organised last-ditch holiday around Europe, the book flips between the current eventful trip and the story of the relationships that brought them to this point. It's funny, sad and poignant, balancing beautifully on the pinhead. The reader seems a bit deadpan to start with, but it really fits the wry, sometimes bitter, humour of the tale. Highly recommended.

Slow and Tedious

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

Reviewed: 29-04-16

This book could have benefitted from a really fierce editor. It takes almost half the book to get going and is bogged down in so much detail that it becomes really quite dull. Without giving spoilers, it details an affair that a rather self-satisfied married woman has. Then a terrible thing happens and the last third of the book deals with a court case. It took far too long to get to the crux of the story and was littered with unnecessary scenes that added nothing to the tale or character development. And the court part had some curious omissions, as if the author had really researched all the procedural parts, but hadn't bothered with what prison might be like. The main characters were quite unlikeable throughout, so it was hard to sympathise with them, even after the main horrible incident. Everyone was so cold and unemotional about everything - it was very distancing.

Normally I really like Juliet Stevenson, but she read this so slowly and precisely that I'm sure it could be an hour shorter if she upped the pace a touch. This also added to the impression of coldness with the main character. It may have been a deliberate decision to portray her this way, but it didn't work for the listener.

I only listened right to the end because I had already invested so much time in it, but I can't really recommend it very much. Sorry.

On Balance, Very Enjoyable - Some Minor Quibbles

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

Reviewed: 25-09-15

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book. 17th-century Amsterdam was well-depicted and the characters came across as very real (mostly). However, I do agree with other reviewers on several points. It felt like the start of another story, rather than one whole narrative. Some of the characters (Otto, the black servant) were dropped in, but their lives never fully explored, just mentioned. The miniaturist character felt very unresolved. Jack Phillips' motivations were never investigated. It's as if the author had too many ideas to cram into one book, but never quite developed any of them properly. The three central female characters were well-drawn and vivid, though. Some of the minor characters were also striking - Agnes, in particular, came across strongly.

The story itself was very moving, but I did think that they should have employed an actor to read it, rather than the author. She wasn't awful, but her delivery was a bit flat, with little differentiation between characters. A professional could have made it much more affecting. A professional might have made me cry by the end. However, I did enjoy the book and was compelled to keep listening to find out what happened, so I would still recommend trying it.

Wicked Lizzie Eustace!

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

Reviewed: 03-06-15

You can't help liking the central character in her schemes to keep a family heirloom and to find a husband, even though she causes all sorts of trouble with her selfishness and stubbornness. Highlights very strongly the 19th century need to marry for money (for men and women). Superbly read by Timothy West as usual. Very long, but thoroughly enjoyable. Warning: contains a bit of Victorian anti-semitism , so be aware if that would offend you.

3 people found this helpful

Lovely

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

Reviewed: 12-03-15

Another great book from JoJo Moyes. Read by four different characters who all come to life beautifully. It's not your standard chick-lit; the knight in shining armour needs rescuing himself. I really enjoyed this, although don't listen to the last few chapters in a public place as you might cry!

Addictive and engrossing

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

Reviewed: 11-07-14

No spoilers, I promise. I found this book totally engrossing from start to finish. It is the unreliable memoir of Harriet Baxter and her dealings with the family of Glasgow artist Ned Gillespie in the 1880s. If you enjoy Barbara Vine books you may well like this - a sense of an impending tragedy haunts the earlier parts and the truth is built on shifting sands. The narrator captures the different characters well and I found myself looking forward to traffic jams so that I could listen to it for longer in the car!

Really Interesting Perspective

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

Reviewed: 25-05-14

This book was very enjoyable. A different perspective on Nazi Germany, from a boy who considered himself a proper little German, yet wasn't wanted by the authorities in his country. It is amazing how little racism he experiences from most normal people and then suddenly (like when he tries to join the Hitler Youth) he finds his services are not required. An excellent book, telling a fascinating story with an admirable lightness of touch.

1 person found this helpful