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When I started reading this sharply written, engrossing tragicomedy I would often pause and wonder "what is this odd book really about". The story transports the listener back to post war 1950s London--the publishing world and life in a rooming house peopled by a collection of eccentric characters.
Spark's writing is spare--but with limited carefully chosen words she is able to paint multidimensional pictures and tell a richly textured story. Coupled with Pamela Garelick's fantastic narration, I felt as though I had watched a movie rather than listened to an audiobook. The scenes were vivid and the characters and their interaction entrancing.
The commentary on the world of publishing, the witless ease people have in misreading the skills and abilities of themselves and others, and the insights into personal behavior were dryly funny. Underlying all this comedy was the mystery, the tragedy and the charlatan. Oh and yes--the translation of the oft repeated french phrase that caused so much trouble is "writer who churns out rubbish".
In the end, it all becomes clear and the story is definitely worth the time spent listening. I wonder how I missed this gem until now. The writing and narration are both top-notch and perfect.
33 of 36 people found this review helpful
I love the wickedly low-key humor of this book, but most of all I love the reading of Pamela Garelick. She is now my absolute favorite reader. Her voice is perfect for the book, and she gets all the intonations and moods exactly right. When she does different voices, she's just perfect. I would be thrilled if she got a lot more narration jobs.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
As an antidote to the dark days of January and February, I can't think of a better listen. Beautifully and sparingly read, I was simply lost in the odd world of these characters, where a strange combination of fairy-tale and grit coincide. A mix of autobiographical elements and gentle story telling.