Author: A. S. Byatt –
Publisher: HarperAudio –
Genre: Romance –
Overall rating: 1/5 –
Writing: 2/5 –
Duration: 22:18 (very long) –
Narrator: Virginia Leishman –
Narrator/performance: 2/5 –
Impressions: 1/5 –
Performance errors: 0/5 –
Complexity/reading level: 4/5 –
I did not like the book or the reading of it. It became one of my poorest and most upsetting experiences of audiobooks. I wanted to finish the book, since it was so highly acclaimed. It was recommended, it won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1990, it had the oddly sounding “historiographic metafiction” element, why not try something new.
The book is too long. It goes into too many directions. It contains too many details. I understand that some of the features are due to the Victorian era referred to and used in the story but it does not necessitate duplication of its errors and flaws. The tension is built up over too many pages and when it starts to ripen, the author turns to a kind of Hollywood style happy ending release. The release is, however, not only overly sweet but also too long and, again, complicated. The story seems bloated, overworked. I found the ending utterly irritating. It not only did not speak to me. I simply cringed.
As usual, I hated the spiritual seance theme. I also did not enjoy the realistic elements. I have no idea why the author chose to write realistically in a Victorian era-themed novel.
I did like Sabine’s diary but it did not help as it was rather unimportant.
The reading is performed in a highly irritating style. Impressions of American accents sound wrong, badly managed. British accents sound arrogant, self-important, privileged (and that – for no clear reason). The performance was clear but also rather boring. I was happy when it ended.
The book is bland and so is the cover.