So much to love!
Whoa. What did I just read?
I'm kind of amazed by this book. First of all, the writing is excellent. I love Chesterton's style and his descriptions are vivid and captivating. One of the characters describes himself as, "coward enough to fear great force, but not coward enough to admire it." The uncanny psychological depth he wrote into the characters was beautiful and very engaging. His descriptions of the events were also so very interesting and creative. Setting the tense, dramatic scene of a duel, the author writes,
"Early as was the hour, the sun soaked everything in warmth, and Syme was vaguely surprised to see so many spring flowers burning gold and silver in the tall grass in which the whole company stood almost knee-deep. With the exception of the Marquis, all the men were in sombre and solemn morning-dress, with hats like black chimney-pots; the little Doctor especially, with the addition of his black spectacles, looked like an undertaker in a farce. Syme could not help feeling a comic contrast between this funereal church parade of apparel and the rich and glistening meadow, growing wild flowers everywhere. But, indeed, this comic contrast between the yellow blossoms and the black hats was but a symbol of the tragic contrast between the yellow blossoms and the black business."
Not only are his descriptions wonderful, but he is able to write the action with suspense and movement that feels very natural and very compelling. I don't read a lot of fiction, but, even so, it's been quite awhile since I felt truly drawn in and eager to continue like I did while reading this book. The scenes are described in such detail that I feel like I watched a movie.
What’s interesting about this book is that I don’t really know what it’s about. It’s referred to as a nightmare by the author in his subtitle and you really do get that sense of the bizarre in this book. It’s actually pretty remarkable how well he captures the connected, yet random, stream of consciousness feel that a dream has. On top of that, the allegorical nature of the book still has me processing what I read. The spiritual themes and vocabulary will lend itself to many interesting interpretations. I found this article an interesting commentary of it. I look forward to what my book club comes up with. Will update.
I listened to this on audiobook (only six hours long) and, unlike others I have recently listened to, I actually felt that the narrator's performance richly enhanced the writing. The reader, Simon Vance, does a great job with the narration and the voices of each character. It definitely helped me track with the many roles and helped to set the mood making it really enjoyable to listen to. His pace is even and his tone matches the events. I'm adding him to my list of favorite narrators.
It feels weird to rate something so highly that I’m not sure I even understand, but I loved the writing, loved the narration and loved the mental stimulation and, understand it or not, the conclusion felt strangely emotional. Will definitely read this again.
I have heard many positive reviews...
I have heard many positive reviews of Chesterton\'s writing and thought to try my teeth on this book. I must say that despite the glowing accolades his books have received, I wish someone had told me that characters in this book are constantly swearing and taking the Lord\'s name in vain. Multiple times each chapter Chesterton makes use of corrupt language or a mocking use of sober words such as \"damn\" and \"hell\". Ephesians 5:3-7 says plainly that such loose use of corrupt speech is not befitting the hearts or lips of God\'s representatives. We should not make light, even in our fiction, of God\'s holiness.
I realize that we don\'t live in a Thomas Kinkade painting, so to speak. All around us people swear, mock, and take the Lord\'s name in vain. They make jokes of hell and damnation, while some of their relatives likely burn there. This is a cause for mourning, not excusing ourselves. Just because the world has a style, we should not feel obligated to follow it. 1 Peter 4:3-6
Finally, though Chesterton was a marvelous stylist and his work is deep in many ways, I am grieved and warn others about what appears his looseness and lightness with regards to his tongue.
This is an excellent book! I...
This is an excellent book! I greatly enjoyed it, and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys very well written classic fiction. I consider it a great choice for an audiobook, as I intend to listen to it again and again in the future--a book to return to, more than once.
This Hovel Audio edition is nearly perfect; the reader does a tremendously impressive and pleasing job of conveying the personalities, mannerisms, and varied national and regional accents of all of the characters, even as they evolve and change completely. It helps considerably towards keeping them all straight in an audio format.
I would suggest that the chapters be marked within the audio files for skipping forward or backward in one's iPod, but this is not a very major matter. (I think also that the very talented and capable reader might also confuse slightly the accents of some of the characters occasionally for just a few brief moments here and there later on in the book, but certainly not enough to be bothered or confused by.)
The book is a mystery, filled with many plot twists--none of the characters are ever what you think from the start! The plot will leave you guessing, and the finale will leave you delightfully surprised, and wanting to listen through again immediately, to follow the plot again with greater understanding of the reality of the situation!
A strangely very engaging story, full of interesting dialogue, rich with highly intelligent philosophy, beautiful and apt descriptions, entertaining and likable characters (including some you love to pity or dislike, at least temporarily), wonderful settings, great chapter divisions, astute observations and philosophical assertions, with strange and surprising allegorical twists. Also with some very impacting (and rewarding) theological points and perspectives at the end.
Overall, a delightful and worthy audiobook!
(I hadn't read any fiction in years, and this book has finally sparked a return to it for me. I so enjoyed the execution of this story, and the satisfaction and benefit I gained from it, that I have since gone back and scoured my bookshelf, ChristianAudio's website, and the bookstore for more like this! And this was a free monthly download from ChristianAudio.com. Thank you Christian Audio! I love and appreciate your site.)
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At once a mystery, satire, and...
At once a mystery, satire, and farce, this compact book is difficult to pin down and is not what you would expect from the author. The plot revolves around anarchists involved in planning violent acts in Europe. Narrator Simon Vance is up to the task of guiding us through the book's maze of events and relationships. His crisp British accent and superb characterizations are entertaining and sometimes wildly unpredictable. He uses what seem to be odd voices but then reads the author's descriptions of the characters, and we recognize that Vance has made a smart choice. He's also great at pacing jokes and setting us up for unexpected, but very interesting, proceedings. R.I.G. © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine [Published: DEC 05/ JAN 06]
I think it was CS Lewis...
I think it was CS Lewis who said that he never felt comfortable giving his opinion of a book until he had read it at least twice. Man Who Was Thursday is a book I've returned to over-again, yet I'm not sure I will ever feel comfortable with it. Fun reading? Yes. In this case, fun reading and absolutely great narration! Simon Vance brings the book alive. But behind all of Chesterton's antics, there is a message. God is inscrutable; most so at the point of His suffering on the cross in our place. This book's meant to dwell on.
I finished listening to this book...
I finished listening to this book about 3 weeks ago...and have not been able to stop thinking about it since that time...definitely a book worthy of Christian Audio/Hovel's purpose of "Listen. Enjoy. Think. Grow." Simon Vance's voice is excellent...versatile and humorous...he acts with his voice. The story itself, at surface level (and frankly through the first 4 of 5 discs) seems a witty British romp with a sense of the ridiculous: mystery-genre entertainment at its best. And then I got to the last disc (last chapter or two of the book) and it was like a knife had been slowly, imperceptibly inserted into my heart and I was unaware of that until Chesteron twists it at the end. I will not give the plot away but let me just say...read this book along with the book of Job from the Bible. I would go as far as to say it was life-changing for me.