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Although the romance on which this mystery is based is rather improbable, the story is totally gripping from the first. The book follows the story of a young man searching, with powerful motivation, for the truth about what became of two young people he believed to be his great grandparents, winding their real stories between his unearthing of clues. All three of the stories we follow are fascinating and the descriptions of his forebears' experiences at the time of the Great War are vivid and moving. The final revelation is tantalisingly treated and the end of the book, while perhaps a little predictable, feels very right. I loved this book and would choose more by this author and this narrator.
What did you like best about The Steady Running of the Hour? What did you like least?
I liked the historical detail - it seemed to be well-researched. He can obviously write.The worst thing is the ending. It makes all the hours of listening seem futile.
What could Justin Go have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
He could have done a great deal of editing, made the relationship between Tristan and Merielle more believable and given us a proper ending.
What do you think the narrator could have done better?
The narrator seems to be very confused about accents. The first person character writes with an English accent but speaks and writes postcards etc with an American accent. Weird and disconcerting. He gives all French characters comedy 'Allo, 'Allo accents, even when they are speaking their own language. Who decides this stuff - is it up to the individual actor?
If this book were a film would you go see it?
Hollywood would NEVER make a film with such a sketchy ending - they'll probably make it but change the ending. I can't imagine i'd go.
Any additional comments?
Don't think, when you get to the end and have re-listened to several chapters, that it's YOU that isn't smart enough. This is a shameful way to end a book.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I started listening to this while I was quite unwell. This is the only possibly explanation for the fact that I carried on to the bitter end. My resistance was obviously very low...
By the time I got to Part 2 of the download, I was feeling a bit better and it suddenly dawned on me that I would never normally listen to such a poorly constructed and delivered book. However, I was only a few hours off the end, so I switched it to double speed and carried on.
It is flawed in several ways. First, and unforgivably, the plot. It's just silly (though when I read the synopsis, it really appealed to me), and so far-fetched it's almost fantasy, but without the magic! Incredible coincidences crop up over and over again. The story does not have one thread of plausible plotting. The veering between time zones is usually a device I like, but in this one, it's just daft.
Second, the characters. I disliked or despised every single one of them except the lawyers, but unfortunately, the worst offenders are the three main characters. Tristan, the modern character, is completely without any personality at all. We know nothing of him, he rarely speaks - though when he does, it's really annoying as he 'thinks', i.e., his internal, first-person monologues, which are read to us in an English accent, but says his (happily, very few) words in a high-pitched American voice. He holds no views, thinks no interesting thoughts, and simply drifts along in a far-fetched paper-chase across Europe.
The main characters - these are set in the past, and are the subject of Tristan's quest - are Imogen and Ashley. Ashley is described as 'witty' at one point - maybe this was when I was too ill to appreciate it because like Tristan, he is not fully formed. He isn't, to be fair, as embryonic as Tristan in his personality perhaps because we spend so (very) long with him. He is emotionless for most of the book, though he suddenly develops some passionate feelings towards the end. Otherwise, we must assume he loves Imogen (God knows why) but is not in touch with his expressive side.
Imogen is really a thoroughly unpleasant character. Selfish, self-absorbed, illogical to the point that I thought maybe the author was going to make her mentally ill to explain what she does, she just creates a really annoying series of chaotic situations, which seem to be a plot device that enables her to, yet again, flounce off into the night. I grew to dread these strops, because they always led to a turgid internal monologue by Imogen, so I skipped the last few. Had I been her poor sister, I'd have left her in Sweden after a long weekend. She's not nice, no-one, not even her own family, could love her, so it's incredible - even more incredible than the tissue-thin plot - that Ashley did fall for her.
Finally, the narration. I didn't like it but it was the strongest aspect of this download. This tells you all you need to know about the content. The reader has a pleasant voice, but really struggles with anything that isn't frightfully British, circa 1920, Mayfair. His German accent made me laugh out loud. His female voices are really irritating. I don't know why he reads Tristan in both English and American accents, maybe the editor made him do it.
I would strongly urge you, if you are thinking of this download, to first buy a used paperback for a couple of quid from a second hand seller on Amazon. I wish I had not wasted a credit, and so much time. Now I am better, I realise they got me while I was weak...