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That's not an exaggeration. This is one of the very best audio books I've ever listened to and I've listened to hundreds. (Okay, so I'm a Pamuk fan, too.)
True, the book is not about heavy plot or action or even suspense. It's about a man's obsessive search for his past (Istanbul) with the major themes being the role of women, love and loss and guilt and social class- change. In a sense it's about
The first person protagonist is not a particularly likable guy - he's rich, spoiled, selfish and hypocritical. He's engaged to a woman of his own class but has a totally illicit affair with his much younger and very beautiful cousin. The affair, while fairly short-lived, obsesses him for the rest of his life even though she disappears completely for awhile. At the point of the novel's main frame he's constructing a museum of artifacts based on his love. There are ways it's really comparable to Proust or Nabokov but Pamuk is totally fresh and new.
The narrator, John Lee, is pitch perfect - there were times when I just closed my eyes and listened to the rich prose.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
The main character is not likable, and I never could decide whether or not Pamuk wanted us to like him, which is part of what made the book so hypnotic. It's rare that you get a beautifully drawn character that sits on a razor edge of moral culpability without easily tumbling to either side. I think that's what I liked most.
And of course . . . there was John Lee. He is amazing. I listen to books just because he's the narrator. He somehow manages to avoid sounding pedantic when trying to get accents and pronunciations just so, which is a tricky thing to do.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful