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Extended Audio Sample A Sudden Country: A Novel, by Karen Fisher Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (461 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Karen Fisher Narrator: Cassandra Campbell Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A vivid and revelatory novel based on actual events of the 1847 Oregon migration, A Sudden Country follows two characters of remarkable complexity and strength in a journey of survival and redemption.

James MacLaren, once a resourceful and ambitious Hudson’s Bay Company trader, has renounced his aspirations for a quiet family life in the Bitterroot wilderness. Yet his life is overturned in the winter of 1846, when his Nez Perce wife deserts him and his children die of smallpox. In the grip of a profound sorrow, MacLaren, whose home once spanned a continent, sets out to find his wife. But an act of secret vengeance changes his course, introducing him to a different wife and mother: Lucy Mitchell, journeying westward with her family.

Lucy, a remarried widow, careful mother, and reluctant emigrant, is drawn at once to the self-possessed MacLaren. Convinced that he is the key to her family’s safe passage, she persuades her husband to employ him. As their hidden stories and obsessions unfold, and pasts and cultures collide, both Lucy and MacLaren must confront the people they have truly been, are, and may become.

Alive with incident and insight, presenting with rare scope and intimacy the complex relations among nineteenth-century traders, immigrants, and Native Americans, A Sudden Country is, above all, a heroic and unforgettable story of love and loss, sacrifice and understanding.

From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Elegantly written and powerfully original: a magnificent story and a remarkable debut.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “A grand, mesmerizing novel…Fisher tells [Lucy and MacLaren’s] storires, past and present, with a poet’s sense of the sound and heft of each word. Her compassionate, unsentimental eye makes even minor characters unforgettable. She reveals the labor of running a household when there is no house; equally well, she shows us mountains of death and splendor. In the collision between household and wilderness, Fisher brilliantly illuminates both the tragedy and the new life wrought by manifest destiny. This is a great novel of the American West.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “The real fascination of this journey lies in the details of the travel itself: the stench of a wagon packed with meat, the mess of eating and sleeping. The best passages deal with treacherous river crossings, where the mighty oxen, animals seldom heard from in this modern world, must find the bottom with their clawing hooves or drown. With cliffhanger following cliffhanger, Lucy and MacLaren’s romance seems not just unlikely but gratuitous. There’s no harm in a historic novel whose scenery is more colorful than its characters, but as Lucy starts to fade from the page, we may be a little glad to see her go.”

    New York Times

  • A splendid novel, rendering a past era of America with resonant clarity and unfolding an achingly human story. Fisher also has a distinctively lovely narrative voice. This is a very impressive debut from a writer I will be delighted to follow in the years to come. Robert Olen Butler, author of Had a Good Time
  • A gorgeous and mesmerizing story of a journey. Fisher provides both the historical context and the perfect detail with equal grace. She deals in big emotions, big adventures, big landscapes, and human-size people. This is a remarkable, remarkable book and I loved every word of it. Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
  • On every page of A Sudden Country, Karen Fisher finds a way to astonish– with her extraordinary command of period details, with her profound insights into love-tormented hearts and minds, with her style, which is both lyrical and economical. This is a magnificent debut. Larry Watson, author of Orchard and Montana 1948
  • A Sudden Country will take you to the frontiers of your heart. Let Karen Fisher’s story remind you of what we all know most deeply: Life itself–the will to survive–depends on love. Thomas Eidson, author of The Missing
  • A 2006 PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
  • A 2005 Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Prize for First Fiction Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Becca | 2/19/2014

    " Interesting story about the Oregon trail as 40+ families leave Iowa in 1847 to cross the country in search of opportunity in Oregon. Listening rather than reading helped me enjoy more than the rest of the book group; convoluted sentence structure and cumbersome writing made many passages hard to grasp. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Deborah | 2/17/2014

    " I found this book a little hard to read. Karen Fisher is an creative wordsmith but sometimes her descriptions were so involved I didn't get the point. I also found that I didn't care as much about the characters as I would like. But it was an interesting story and I found myself thinking about it for some days afterward. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Linda Lowell | 2/17/2014

    " Lyrical and magical. Out of all the things that happened to these families on the Oregon Trail, there was still hope. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Hallie | 2/8/2014

    " Good for book group "

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