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Colm Toibin is a favorite novelist, and House of Names is one of his best. His legendary characters, whose names I vaguely knew—Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Orestes, Electra—struggle in ways that are both remote (the classical world) and current (the lust for power). The novel is filled with surprises, right until the end. The characters accept their world of unbearable violence with restraint and (often) quiet determination.
This novel is so well-written, I would want to listen again. The prose is spare and often moving. By the end, I felt like I knew the palace corridors, the sunken gardens and the barren landscape as if I’d seen a film.
The three narrators were superb. They made judicious use of silence, giving this reader a few moments to grasp the subtlety of the characters’ interactions and the shock of some of the action. Overall, a superb listen.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to House of Names again? Why?
A friend who had just read it recommended it to me. I had no idea what it was about and had I known, I probably would not have purchased it. But it was a wonderful, gripping and educational listen and I intend to recommend it far and wide.
What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
All the narrators did a splendid job but I am a big fan of Juliet Stevenson and enjoyed her reading the most.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
It didn't make me laugh or cry. It brought alive plays I read in college eons ago and reawakened my understanding of a relevant historical period.
Any additional comments?
Toibin is a very fine writer and there is no one to whom I would not recommend this audible presentation. None of it is "hard," but I think a listener would get mesmerized by the book more swiftly than a reader.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful