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Rodney Wetherell

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Two very ordinary people.

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-07-2020

This book has sold and been reviewed very well, I believe. However, I did not find it all that interesting. Plenty of 'normal people' have been depicted in literature more engagingly than in this novel. Sally Rooney is a skilful writer in many ways, but lively characterization is not her forte, in my opinion.

Great book, superbly read

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-06-2020

I have known about this book for years, but only just got round to reading/listening to it. I feel I have deprived myself of a tremendous pleasure, all this time. Thank you Bill Bryson for making so much astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology, palaentology et al comprehensible to a general audience. I feel I should immediately listen to the book again, in the hope of remembering more of its fascinating contents. William Roberts was an excellent reader, maintaining a sense of drama and suspense while describing discoveries which involved much tedious research.

Brilliant writing, but with sameness of tone.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-06-2020

Hilary Mantel is the leading historical novelist of the present time - there is no doubt of that in my mind. Her grasp of the personalities and issues in the reign of King Henry VIII is extraordinary, and she can write superb dialogue. However, I found a sameness of mood and tone throughout these episodes - this may not apply to the complete novel. The reader is excellent in my opinion.

The pain of oppression, expressed superbly

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-05-2020

I found this book hard to listen to, in places, because Coates' pain is so raw, his anger so deep - and yet he has put his message forward with a degree of cool detachment. He knows loud protests etc. have only a temporary effect, and wants to reach people on many levels - the political, social, personal et al. His reading is very engaging too.

1 person found this helpful

Great biography spoilt by mispronunciations

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-04-2020

I thoroughly enjoyed this biography, which I believe to be the first full biography of Banjo Paterson. I knew little about his early life beyond the fact that he had grown up in country NSW. The stories of his pioneer grandparents, and of his parents' struggle to survive on bush properties are remarkable indeed, and Kieza draws fine portraits of the women in particular, especially Banjo's mother. The big change from country to city life, and Banjo becoming an establishment figure, is well told, as are his adventures in the Boer War, the Pacific and Asia. The details of how his work was published, in the Bulletin and in books, right through to his very late work, may not interest everyone, but to me, with some background in the industry, it was all fascinating. I do hope lots of people especially younger ones, read this book.

Peter Byrne is a lively and clear reader, but I was astonished by his mispronunciations of so many Australian place names. If he did not know that 'Scone' is pronounced 'Scown', not the same way as the little cake, surely there was a producer on hand who could have checked. Dalby is a well-known town on the Darling Downs, and I would have thought that every Australian knew it was pronounced Dolby. I have probably not heard 'Binalong' said aloud, but I would bet it is pronounced as written, not 'Bine-along', which is counter-intuitive. 'Jondaryn' was not right either. General Chauvel had his name mangled as 'Show-vell', with the emphasis on the first syllable - it should have been on the second. 'Bloemfontein' was wrong, and 'Ouse' in Tasmania also. There were many more clangers. How did the narrator get away with these? I almost expected him to pronounce Sydney as 'Sideney'.

How a famous sportswoman survived vile abuse

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-04-2020

Congratulations to Jelena Dokic for writing this extraordinary memoir, with help from a professional writer. The book must be one of the most telling accounts of domestic abuse of all time. How she survived it I do not know - most people including me would have crumbled fairly quickly, I have no doubt. To enjoy all of the book one needs to be a tennis fan, which fortunately I am - but Jelena does make all the tournaments and travel as interesting as she can. The life of a tennis professional seems narrow and clique-like, and I kept wishing she had abandoned it earlier, but it was important to her to use her great talent, understandably. Now one can only thank her for all the enjoyment she brought to lots of people on the tennis court, and wish her no further trauma for the rest of her life. Jelena has had enough to last several lifetimes.
Kellie Jones' reading of the book seemed to me ideal for this book - I was most impressed by her.

An aristocrat in Stalin's Russia

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-04-2020

It took me a while to get into this book, which says little at first about what is going on outside the Metropol Hotel - all the horrors of Stalin's Russia. Gradually we hear about these, but never in much detail. I suppose it's about how to take a civilized approach to horror in everyday life - know it and try to understand it, but never to take the 'if you can't beat them join them' approach. Rostov keeps his sense of noblesse oblige and shows his essential kindness to all (with a few exceptions) to the end. The writing is superb, almost Proustian in its delicacy, without too much filigree work. The reader was excellent, apart from some obvious mispronunciations (to my ear at least).

Fine portrait of a remarkable man

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-03-2020

I found Grantlee Kieza's Macquarie extremely interesting and well-told. Macquarie is a famous name to me, but I knew nothing at all about his career before he arrived in Australia, nor of his growing up on a rocky island in the Hebrides, and all this was well worth hearing. The conflicts he had to deal with in Sydney almost made me weep - at such an early stage of the development of NSW, it is a great shame that so many people such as Marsden fought Macquarie every inch of the way. Many of his ideas were remarkably enlightened for the time, and he saw that NSW would not make progress unless many of the convicts were given tickets-of-leave to become part of the building process. I was not entirely happy with reader Peter Byrne, who has a strange habit of pausing before key words - not only when he is introducing quotes. But generally he is pretty good in making the story easy to follow. Grantlee Kieza is to be congratulated for his careful research and good narrative.

Wonderful reading of verbose classic

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-02-2020

I read BarchesterTowers about 40 years ago, but found it has lost its charms in the intervening period. It has some famous characters like Mrs Proudie and Mr Slope, but neither they nor some of the other charcters undergo much development, and the Archdeacon for example does little but disapprove of Mr Slope and Eleanor. She and Mr Arrabin are the best characters by far. There are too many digressions, too much padding, for me, much as I like Trollope's style and insights. Timothy West's reading is an utter delight - if he were reading the phone book I could listen to him for hours.

The best kind of historical writing

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-01-2020

I knew a bit about the East India Company - indeed I had to teach the history of British India many years ago, at an elementary level. I knew the Company specialized in plunder and exploitation, but had no idea how bad it was, over a very long period. Dalrymple has told a pretty awful story in an entertaining way, but does not gloss over the evils of such Imperialist expansion. The Mughals of course understood the process well, having engaged in conquest in India themselves.