I am listening to Mozart's Die Zauberflote. I am not a huge opera fan but I do love Mozart's operas because they're so witty. Die Zauberflote is pretty out there and the production we watched was a modern take and maybe a little too over the top in some of its costumery, but the singing was superb, especially the Queen of the Night. The above link is only for the overture since singing might be intrusive to your reading.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read this out loud to my parents and to make the book more readable I skipped all the description of irrelevant detail. One thing I did learn is another lesson in good writing, but first the storyline:
WWII has just ended and Europeans and Americans are scrambling to get out of Europe to North or South America as fast as possible to bury the past and start over. We are introduced to five such people.
Luther and Daisy Belle Cates: millionaires who stayed in France throughout the war, even though they are American. Why? Will we find out?
Gili: A European woman from unsure origins and even less sure morals. We do not know what she did to survive the war but it probably wasn't pretty.
Mickey: A man who had a rising promising career as a concert pianist before the war. He became a part of the French resistance before getting captured by the Nazi's and held in a concentration camp until the end of the war. To torture him they mutilated his fingers.
And our protagonist who also serves as our third person limited narrator:
Marcia Colfax: Marcia is an American living in Paris and she fell in love with Mickey before the war. When he was captured, she was determined to wait it out until he was released, a big assumption on her part. She moved to Marsailles, and, when the war ended, she and Mickey meet up again, only now he is Andre Breton and she mustn't forget it, because his passport says so.
All five of our characters have purchased passage on a Portuguese carrier to South America which is where the story starts. Unfortunately for them, the boat is sinking and they find themselves on a lifeboat with three Portuguese sailors in the dead of night in the middle of the Atlantic trying to negotiate stormy waves, each of which threaten to overturn their boat.
Finally dawn turns the sky to gray and also shows an American Red Cross ship heading toward them. All is saved!
Except for one. One of the Portuguese sailors collapses after fighting the waves all night with an oar.
Or so it seems. After everyone boards the Red Cross Ship it is discovered that the Sailor is dead and not from exhaustion. He has been murdered and the knife in his back proves it.
Who on board the lifeboat murdered him? And why? That is what the rest of the story leads you to (um.. to who did it and why).
The mystery was good enough to hold one's attention but the unnecessary description of every item in a room, of how everyone was dressed, the color of the skin, how one always bit her lip, how the captain furrowed his white eyebrows or studied the painting across the room etc...
And the smoking! It seemed after every paragraph our characters had to take a smoking break and we get to read about it from the pulling the cigarette from the package to the lighting to the exhaling to the flinging the butt over the rails.
If what you're describing does not propel the plot forward leave it out. At least that is the most valuable thing I received from reading this novel.
This book was written in 1946 so the war was still painfully fresh in people's minds, and the characters, how each are revealed to be a certain type that existed during the war is interesting. Some are desperate to erase their cowardly acts, others are appalled to find themselves on the losing side after they invested so much in that side and others were just innocent victims that managed to weather the storms of war. I felt Eberhart could have done to develop these characters more rather than bore the reader with minutia.
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