The Lowland

by Jhumpa Lahari, Audiobook read by Sunil Maholtra, 2013, Audible.com

This is a story about two brothers who grew up in India and the very different paths that they took in their lives.  The book attempts to tie the directions that each took to the lives of their family members, but, unfortunately, in my opinion, fails in that endeavor.  The two brothers seem so different that it is hard to reconcile their two different fates.  Also, as a warning, the book just seems to end with no resolution and without imparting any real message.

I also didn’t quite get attached to any of the characters.  They seemed to be somewhat real, but the author didn’t really provide anything that I really could grab onto.

The plot was interesting at times and I learned a lot about the politics and recent history of India that I didn’t know.  The passages referring to Rhode Island were very relevant to me as I spend five months of each year precisely in the area where the novel takes place.  Most of those passages, however, were somewhat boring as the characters seemed to plod from day to day with nothing particularly interesting or noteworthy happening.  I sometimes dreaded continuing to listen.

The references to German philosophy in some of the passages seemed shallow and actually got to the point of name dropping.  They seemed to detract from the story.

The reader did a nice job.  The accents were appropriate as was the tone.

All-in-all, it was interesting about some individuals who came to America and settled in areas that I am very familiar with, but the book certainly didn’t light my fire.2 1/2 stars

An Irish Country Girl

by Patrick Taylor, Audiobook read by Terry Donnelly, 2010, Midwest Tape, LLC, Holland, OH

This book started out pretty well with an Irish ghost story but the second part, which was consisted of the narrator’s life, was a bit dull.  The audiobook did, however, help pass some time on a long road trip vacation.2 stars

Washington Square

by Henry James, originally published in 1880 as a magazine serial, Audiobook read by Lorna Raver, 2008, Tantor Media, Inc.

This is a novel about a young girl living in New York City about 1830 and her affair with an unworthy suitor.  The novel itself is a bit dull but the reading by Lorna Raver is well done.  Her portrayal of Catherine’s aunt as a nosy busybody is superb!

I was hoping that the novel would give a little bit more insight into New York’s culture and society in those times, but the novel was so focused on Catherine and her relationships with her father, her aunt, and her suitor that it didn’t leave much opportunity to dwell on other aspects of life in New York at those times.

I think the novel would have been a bit dull to read, but I really enjoyed the audiobook.4 stars

The Private Patient

by P.D. James Unabridged CD Audiobook (An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery) Audio CD, 2008, read by Rosalyn Landor

This book is a murder mystery about some murders that take place at an estate that has been converted to a plastic surgery clinic.  It is beautifully written but that might be it’s major flaw.  P.D. James tends to be overly wordy in this novel and, while the prose is very well done and the characters are convincing, the plot is thin and the book suffers as it plods along.  There are absolutely no twists or turns as it goes from beginning to end.  Additionally, the reader has a very nice voice and does the characters well, but her voice is soft and soporific which also takes away from any excitement that a murder mystery should generate.  I have rated it a bit higher than it probably deserves because of James’ good writing, but, for a murder mystery, this is a not very suspenseful. 3 stars

A Blaze of Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Shiloh

by Jeff Shaara, Audiobook, 2012, Narrated by Paul Michael, Random House Audio

We listened to this audiobook on our semi-annual trip from Florida to Rhode Island.  The audiobook was 18 CD’s so it consumed about 2 1/2 days of our three-day trip.  Even though it was long and, at times, seemed even longer than it was, the author made it interesting.  By writing this in novel format he made the individuals seem to come to life.  At the same time, however, the historical contents were well-researched and accurate.  The narration was also very good.

We had no prior knowledge of the battle or the circumstances that brought the two armies together and this was a much more enjoyable means to gain that knowledge compared to a dry, blow-by-blow history of the battle.  I would recommend this book. 4 stars

Me Before You

by Jojo Moyes, 2012, Audiobook narrated by Susan Lyons, Anna Bentink, Steven Crossley, Alex Tregear, and Owen Lindsey, Penguin Audio

An interesting story about a young lady who doesn’t have much going for her in her life takes on a caregiver job for a paraplegic who is intent on committing suicide.

The characters in this novel are interesting although sometimes a bit stereotyped. The primary character has qualities that far exceed her background and upbringing, allowing her to do amazing things.  Her sister is much more sophisticated and smarter, but she has made bad choices in her life.  The patient’s mother is unemotional in her dealings with others.  The father is a womanizer.

The story is interesting, the writing is good, the reading is excellent.  Altogether, not a bad experience.

3 1/2 stars

Arctic Chill

by Arnaldur Indridason, 2005, Audiobook narrated by George Guidall, 2011, Recorded Books, LLC

This is a run of the mill detective story whose only redeeming value was that it took place in Iceland.  The mood and the background gave me a little insight into the culture and living conditions in Iceland.  It is a typical murder mystery, the only twist being that the murder was of a young immigrant boy.  It does provide a bit of background about how the immigrant population fares vis-a-vis the native Icelandic population and the tugs and pulls of assimilation versus isolation.  The plot itself is pedantic and the characters are a bit hard to distinguish because of the similarity and unfamiliarity of their names (especially in audiobook format).

The reading by George Guidall was very good as usual, but the material was lacking.

I don’t think I will be reading additional volumes in this series.2 stars

There’s Something about St. Tropez

by Elizabeth Adler, Audiobook narrated by Julie Briskman, 2009, BBC Audio

I downloaded this audiobook to my MP3 player so that I could listen to something while I painted a bathroom.  It had some interesting characters but they were pretty much stereotypes.  The plot was predictable and the location of the story didn’t seem to add much to the narrative.  It was a not unpleasant experience to listen to this audiobook, but I would say that it was pretty brainless.2 stars

An Officer and a Spy

by Robert Harris, 2014, Vintage Reprint Edition

I think this is an excellent book!  It is an historical novel about the Dreyfus affair and one of the officers in the military who was involved in the arrest of Dreyfus.  He later has doubts about Dreyfus’ guilt and launches his own investigation.

The book is written in the first-person, present tense so it feels as if whatever is happening is happening right now, even though the events depicted happened over one hundred years ago.  The book is very well written, the characters are superb, and the plot flows well.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone.4 1/2 stars

The Daughters of Mars: A Novel

by Thomas Keneally, Audible Audio Edition narrated by Jane Nolan,  Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

This book, about two sisters from Australia who were military nurses in WWI, was interesting as they were in a hospital ship that was sunk off the coast of Gallipoli.  We had just visited Gallipoli on our cruise in 2014 so the book tied in very well to our own experience.

The two sisters are then reassigned to France. The later part of the book seems to focus more on their personal relationships than their war experiences which detracts somewhat from the book.  The ending of this book is very unusual.3 1/2 stars