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Nettlewine

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Perfect for audio

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

Reviewed: 30-09-17

Authors should never read their own books, and that rule is proved by this exception. I bought it with confidence, having heard McBride read from A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, and she is the ideal reader of her own work.

I'm not perfect, mind, so I put off listening to it, because I knew it would be a difficult listen. It is not. It is in fact easier to listen to than some more conventional books, the flow of words lighting up the scene by seemingly tapping into your own core experiences and drawing them out.

This story of a young woman blossoming through her undergraduate acting course is brought into life from the core of one's own senses. As with her first-published book (though I understand this one was conceived earlier), this evolution of the modernist aesthetic is very welcome, absolutely apt for the subject, and beautifully executed.

I hope and trust McBride has patience, resolution and support enough to write just as she pleases, and can find more, equally engaging subjects to nurture in her instinctive way.

4 people found this helpful

Astonishing performance

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

Reviewed: 04-03-17

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The right friend, absolutely. The performance is a work of art in its own right, and the text is so difficult, it's almost a sport to see what the narrator's going to do with it. What he does is offer this much under-represented text arguably (by me) its best medium.

What did you like best about this story?

Watt has some of Beckett's funniest writing, and there's a great sense of him working towards the inimitable trilogy. The performance here makes sense of the oceans of patterned text when you read it in hard copy, and Crowley brings fantastic light and shade to aid comprehension of the incomprehensible.

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

I listened to Dermot Crowley on Molloy, so I bought this one with confidence. His performance in Watt is comparable in excellence, but much more of a tour de force, because the text is even more difficult. He utterly brings it to life.

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

No, I wanted to take it all in in 'movements' -- it evolves and develops in the manner of classical music.

Any additional comments?

I'm so pleased to hear Crowley unleashed on Beckett again -- I'll certainly listen out for more from him.

4 people found this helpful

Ignore idea of a 'twist' for more satisfying read

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

Reviewed: 03-11-14

Would you try another book written by Karen Joy Fowler or narrated by Katharine Mangold?

I would; I think Fowler is a very talented writer, but this subject possibly obliges her to write in great slabs of 'reported' events, which tend to nullify some moving writing.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I think the ending goes some way to recovering the previous two-thirds of book. It justifies Fowler's approach, but it doesn't quite rescue it.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Katharine Mangold?

I wouldn't seek her out. The marriage of her somewhat stoner monotone with the psychologically distant and unreliable narrative made for quite a dreary listen. There were quite a lot of mispronunciations too, which may indicate the product was rushed a little.

Did We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves inspire you to do anything?

It inspired me to look into how far companies were go in securing the safety and effectiveness of their products. A vexed and emotive area indeed.

Any additional comments?

This book has largely been promoted on its 'twist' on page 77; I strongly recommend you don't see this as a twist, but as a necessity in getting the reader to look at the subject in a particular way, i.e. by dropping their prejudices. That's not a twist, and the book doesn't benefit from looking at it as one.

18 people found this helpful

Sensitive subject brought to life

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

Reviewed: 13-10-14

What did you like most about Elizabeth Is Missing?

The sense of the main character's decline across the book, and the anxiety it brings out in the reader was incredibly deft and sensitively and accurately done.

What other book might you compare Elizabeth Is Missing to, and why?

Pretty wayward, but the world created most reminded of Franz Kafka's The Trial, with a single character roaming round and trying to make sense of the authorities. Except here, in this rather lighter-than-Kafka book, everyone is smiling and being kind to our central character, which is somehow just as claustrophobic.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

That where the central character was housed at her daughter's house, and her granddaughter started to take care of her.

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

I think in the early stages, when Healey is setting out early instances of the main character's condition, when she comes to put a cup of tea down for a moment, and finds a row of cold cups of tea already there. Such a mournful, simple, beautifully rendered moment.

Any additional comments?

I feel I should point out one or two weaknesses: the scenes with Elizabeth's overbearing son did not ring true, and I feel the narrator really struggled with these,

7 people found this helpful

Huge achievement, perfect prose for audio

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

Reviewed: 13-10-14

What did you like most about History of the Rain?

The sheer scale of the achievement in conjuring the environment and characters from the books in the library surrounding Ruth.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Ruth, who was a complex and well-developed character, sensitive and indulgent, but hard as nails in many respects.

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

She seems to have a core understanding of Ruth's attitudes, and brings out the strength of her character very well. A lot of the lyrical prose is delivered in a matter-of-fact way, rather than with too much deference, which I think really helps the story along.

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

No; it was a joy to bask in the qualities of the prose over an extended period.

Any additional comments?

A really rewarding listen, but it's interesting that there isn't a great deal of drive to the present-day plot, which makes the whole experience somewhat diffuse and meandering. That, however, might be seen as a positive. Occasionally the narrator's differentiation between characters was a little absent, and I do wonder whether the potentially terminally ill Ruth was a bit energetic, but this was an epic task to take on, and may have dragged horribly if there'd been a more weary approach.

5 people found this helpful