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Listening For Lions Audio CD – 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
I very much enjoyed the details in this book, as well as the wide story arc. It ended rather unexpectedly and abruptly though, which was the only reason four the four, rather than five, star review.
I have stayed up too many nights in a row reading excellent books, so apologies for the inelegant review.
It's a great book. I'm glad I bought and read it.
Unfortunately, I found the book to be tedious, the characters muddy and one-dimensional, and the actual story fell far short of my expectations.
The villains in this book truly are--greedy, scheming, hateful people who are furious about having been "exiled" to Africa. They're lazy, cruel, and have not a spark of humanity. (I'm trying to avoid spoilers here, but there are several instances when they could have shown glimmers of being real people, but didn't.)
Part of this one-dimensionality is a part of the first person voice (meaning it's hard to write in the first person and illuminate all the characters' motives), but it seems intentional here, and I think its a shortcoming.
The grandfather Rachel goes to live with isn't particular developed, either, nor is his staff, or really, anyone Rachel meets along the way.
The lack of character development might have been okay had Rachel been a more sympathetic character. Instead, she's wracked with guilt over the situation she finds herself in (that she really couldn't have done anything to change), homesick, and generally pretty whiny. I get the impression we're supposed to see her as heroic, a great storyteller with a plucky spirit, but instead, she seems pretty mousy to me, managing to make even a leopard attack seem sort of every day.
What redeems this book is the clarity of setting. The scenes in Africa are beautifully described and it's easy to picture yourself there in a completely different time. The scenes in England are similarly beautiful, and I liked that the author didn't seem to give extra care to writing one or the other. In fact, she did a really lovely job of imbuing Africa with an obvious sense of being Rachel's home without diminishing the English setting.
I'm not sorry I read it, it's a quick read, and of historical interest, but it could have been so much more, and I am disappointed in the end result. For the setting, I think it's worth the 3 stars and the time to read it, but it's definitely not a book I'll be keeping in my collection. This one's getting donated to the library.