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Can't remember the last time my apathy towards a protagonist teetered on actual contempt. This was a tedious listen for me, salvaged only by Ben Barnes gifting the story an energy it didn't deserve. He's rocky to start but soon finds his comfort zone, giving each character their own voice and doing the best he can with the source material. It took a good eight hours for the book to get interesting, and that plot line is painfully short-lived. I basically only managed to finish the listen out of spite for having spent a credit on it.
Zadie Smith seems to be quite highly regarded as an author, but I was unfamiliar with her work and this was not the best first impression. There are a few gems as far as turns-of-phrase go; there was, I think, one line in the whole text that got an honest laugh out of me. Those highlights, however, were too few and far between.
Then again, I don't claim to be some great intellect, so maybe the whole thing was lost on me. I am a natural pragmatist; I have an odd sense of humour; I've read some really cerebral/artsy/dark/weird stuff in my time. I tend to gravitate more towards books that want to be appreciated; this thing is so je-ne-sais-quoi that I'm not sure it actually expects anyone to finish it, let alone come out the other side with anything other than indifference and a wish for their time back.
I've never listened to an audio book before so it was all new to me. I started to get used to being read to. I LOVED Ben Barnes's narration. He did all the voices and really got me invested in the story. Very pleased --Tep