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So - jealous, fat Gore Vidal famously said that the three most boring words in the English language were 'Joyce Carol Oates'. I find that truly mystifying and suspect that he envied the fact that she could be both prolific and write to such a high standard, and across a range of genres. This book is fantastic - hard going in places - but well worth listening to. The performance is pitched just right and I suspect Grover Gardner must have studied the book thoroughly to get the right tone of pedantic whingeing into his voice. It's gothic, it's comic, it's extremely entertaining. Yes, you may need to look information up on Wikipedia to get the most out of it but I like that kind of added value. Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland, Mark Twain, Jack London, Upton Sinclair...marvellous pen portraits. I thoroughly recommend this book and my only caveat is that you have to be prepared to listen (for a long time) and learn, as well as enjoy.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
This was a long book for not really saying anything vital until the Epilogue. You'd probably be best to give it a go yourself, but I found it very difficult to understand what was happening until the final reveal.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
This is a change for Oates, and I was so involved - it is whatever the audible equivalent of a "page turner" is! I couldn't stop listening to it, wanting to get to the solution to the mystery.
Grover Gardner's reading is occasionally distracting: on a couple of occasions he pronounces JOSIAH (one of the main characters) as JOSHUA. He also mispronounces "idyll".
However, his characterisation of the different figures in the book is very good, he manages to avoid the trap of some male narrators of putting on a weird falsetto for female characters.
The story is set in Princeton, NJ, in 1905, when a sequence of inexplicable - possibly demonic - events begins. This is during Woodrow Wilson's tenure as president of the university, and he turns out to be quite an irascible and petty individual, which offers some sly humor. Grover Cleveland, Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Mark Twain and other luminaries are also involved.
Ghosts, trances, outbreaks of murderous madness, and voices from the beyond: if you're a fan of the historical and gothic in fiction, get this.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?
With a rambling style this book left me anything but thrilled. Perhaps someone who enjoys a very dry sudo historical text would enjoy it more.