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September 12, 2013 / Leslie

Review: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

And the Mountains EchoedAnd the Mountains Echoed
by Khaled Hosseini

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Riverhead and Penguin Audio
Publish Date: May 21, 2013
Format: Audio and Print – 14 hours, 400 pages
Audio Listening Level: Difficult
Rating: 4 of 5

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways that we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history, and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

My Thoughts:

This is a beautifully written story about relationships, actions and consequences. In a series of interconnected, emotionally charged stories, we journey through the years and across continents to eventually come full circle.

In 1950’s Afghanistan we first meet Abdullah and his little sister Pari. Their mother had recently died and Abdullah was more like a father to Pari than a brother. When their father remarried and made a fateful decision about Pari’s future, their lives were ripped apart with unforeseen consequences and wounds that could never be healed.

I read this for my book club discussion and while we all agreed it was a wonderful book, many commented on the lack of focus on any one individual character. As the stories skip over the years, many details are left to the imagination, and while I would have liked to know more about a few of these characters, it is the relationships between them that were emphasized.

I enjoyed the style which was more a series of vignettes than a novel with multiple points of view. The themes of family, loyalty, atonement and regret persist throughout. As our group discussed each of the individual scenarios, the common themes became apparent, with the individual stories fitting together like the pieces of a puzzle.

Audio Production:

I listen to a lot of audio and have a wide tolerance for narrators and productions, but this book was an exception for me. I had a horrible time following the audio version. There were three narrators, the author and another male and female, each reading separate chapters. I had trouble with the accents and words were often difficult to understand, a lot of them mumbled and slurred, requiring me to backup and listen again. It didn’t have the usual quality that I find in an audio production from a major publisher.

This would not be an easy book to listen to even without my issues with the narration. There are a lot of characters and the story covers a long time span, several generations and families, and can be a bit rambling at times. The story is not linear and some chapters cover many years and then jump back in time to begin the next chapter.

At about a quarter of the way through the book I abandoned the audio in frustration and switched to a print copy. My struggle to understand what I was hearing plus frequent backing up to re-listen was taking away from the enjoyment of the book. I understand the desire to use native speakers to add to the authenticity, but for me it made the book too challenging to listen to. My advice: If you are inclined to go with the audio, listen to a sample before you make your decision.

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Source: Review copy provided by Penguin Audio.
© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.

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11 Comments

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  1. Suko / Sep 12 2013 11:11 am

    Leslie, thanks for sharing your honest thoughts. I’m glad that you enjoyed the print version of this book. It sounds like a complex story. I’d like to read it as well at some point.

    Like

  2. irene / Sep 12 2013 2:14 pm

    I’ve read this author before, and enjoyed the story.

    Like

    • Leslie / Sep 12 2013 3:00 pm

      I enjoyed his writing enough that I want to go back and read his first two books.

      Like

  3. Vicki / Sep 12 2013 2:42 pm

    I have The Kite Runner but haven’t read it yet. I’d like to read his other books too. Thanks to your review I know not to listen to the audio version of this book, especially since I’m very picky when it comes to narrators.

    Like

    • Leslie / Sep 12 2013 3:00 pm

      This was my first book by the author and I enjoyed his writing style. I picked up The Kite Runner a few years ago but hadn’t read it yet. I’m not real picky about narrators but this audio production didn’t work at all for me.

      Like

  4. BermudaOnion / Sep 12 2013 5:01 pm

    I loved the print version of the book. If the audio didn’t work for you, I can’t imagine it working for anyone.

    Like

  5. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Sep 12 2013 6:10 pm

    I started listening to the audio from the library and I just could not follow it. I plan to read it with a book group in October. Some books just are not meant for audio –too bad.

    Like

    • Leslie / Sep 13 2013 12:32 am

      I was so lost with the audio that I might have given up entirely if it wasn’t my book club pick. Switching to print made a huge difference.

      Like

  6. stacybuckeye / Sep 12 2013 8:53 pm

    Too bad about the audio. I’ve had that problem a few times.

    Like

  7. Mary / Sep 13 2013 8:26 pm

    Good to know about the audio. I bought the hard cover and hope to read it before the end of the year. I liked his first two novels.

    Like

  8. Monique Reads / Sep 15 2013 7:37 pm

    Thanks for the review of the audio, I was thinking about listening to it on my ride to work. I think I will have to pick up the print version instead.

    Like

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