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Extended Audio Sample A Whistling Woman Audiobook, by A. S. Byatt Click for printable size audiobook cover
2.77 out of 52.77 out of 52.77 out of 52.77 out of 52.77 out of 5 2.77 (26 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: A. S. Byatt Narrator: Pamela Garelick Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9781455180318
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This triumphant conclusion to A. S. Byatt’s great quartet of postwar English life and manners stands on its own as a magical and thought-provoking novel of ideas made flesh.

Frederica, the spirited heroine of The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, and Babel Tower, falls almost by accident into a career in television in London, while tumultuous events in her home county of Yorkshire threaten to split her world. In the late 1960s, the languages of religion, myth, and fairy tale overlap with the terms of science and the new computer age. The meaning of love itself seems to vanish and people flounder, often comically, while searching for their true sexual, intellectual, and emotional identities.

Through her wayward, lovingly drawn characters and breathtaking twists of plot, A. S. Byatt illuminates the effervescence of intellectual and social life in 1960s Britain.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A bold, brainy eulogy to the late ’60s…Byatt’s clashes between the intimate and the intellectual make for a raucous, lively work.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Rich, acerbic, wise…[Byatt] tackles nothing less than what it means to be human.”

    Vogue

  • “With consummate skill and inventiveness, [Byatt] creates a large cast of characters who shine with intelligence and individuality.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “Rich in metaphor and glancing allusion, it is a tale of learning and anti-learning, sects and cults, the complex sexual relationships of humans and snails...A Whistling Woman, like its predecessors, is predominantly a novel of ideas. Not about politics, foreign or domestic, but about philosophy, psychology and literature; the excitement of genetics and computer science edging towards their breakthrough.”

    Economist

  • “Byatt, like George Eliot and Doris Lessing, aims to show in her fiction the exemplary struggle between self-consciousness and the precepts of culture…a beautifully realized, smart novel.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Gloriously complex, extraordinarily dramatic, and diabolically clever, Byatt's tour de force, a descendant of Shakespeare, Milton, George Eliot, and Lewis Carroll, is fueled by penetrating inquiries into the nature of story and metaphor, the workings of the mind, and the mystery of love.”

    Booklist

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Susan | 1/31/2014

    " Actually DNF - I tried. The beginning was AMAZING - the "fairy" tale but then it went nowhere VERY SLOWLY "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elizabeth | 1/16/2014

    " This is the fourth installment in a series; the earlier novels are The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, and Babel Tower. While the first three books are brilliant, this last book was a major disappointment to me. It's tough to get through, and presents Byatt at her most self-indulgent. The only reason I'm keeping it around is because it represents the culmination of a longer story, and because overall Byatt is one of my favorite writers. I just wish this book had been better edited... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paul Dinger | 1/16/2014

    " It continues like Babel Tower (of which it makes several references)the story of Frederica. Yet, in this book, she seems strangly apart from the drama, most of which seems to take place at universities. The Sixties becomes the usual drug use, false messiahs and anti education. Yet, the main drama of the story ends anticlimatically. I won't say I was disappointed, but like Children's Book, I expect more from the author of Possession, not to mention the first two volumnes Virgin in the Garden and Still Life both of which had a lot of interesting ideas about art and life. The Whistling Woman pretends to be about discovering a civilization beyond education, about anarchy, yet it never gives anarchy a chance. I recommend it to Byatt fans, but I hoped for more. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 lyndel | 1/14/2014

    " I got addicted to to this writer a while ago,in fact I started reading this series of books about fredericas life backwards starting with the last in the series first by chance . If you are the kind of person who wishes a book would never end then this story that spans 4 decades is for you ! It can be a bit dense at times but, once you get into her style, its really compelling. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Paddy | 1/4/2014

    " I really loved Virgin in the Garden and Still Life, tolerated Babel Tower, and skimmed huge swaths of A Whistling Woman. Face it, readers only really care about Frederica, not biology and religious cults. Increasingly, showing off her esoteric knowledge of many things seems more important than plot to Byatt. The rumored feud between Byatt and her younger sister Margaret Drabble may or may not be true, but I remember finding it telling that Byatt killed off the sister in Still Life. That her death reverberates in a real and lovely way is one of the good points of this new novel. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wes Christensen | 1/2/2014

    " Have read most of Byatt's novels, and short stories, and liked this one quite a bit. Set in the late 60s, I related to much of it, as I was coming up at that time and recognized many of the attitudes the author described. I did like the protagonist a great deal, she was both funny and smart. Good book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ian | 12/21/2013

    " A disappointment after the first three novels. Set in late '60s with hippies, cults and student protests. New characters who didn't bring much to the storyline. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Njwillott | 10/8/2013

    " I read this not knowing that it was part 4 of a series, but I felt that it stood alone and I enjoyed it. Now, though, I want to read the first three. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 John Pansini | 9/11/2013

    " No story, just a lot of feelings. I quit after p. 42. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susannah | 5/21/2013

    " try as I may, A. S. Byatt doesn't float my boat. maybe i need to give some of her classic works a try (angels and insects, possession). i won't give up hope yet. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Hannah | 4/28/2013

    " Fragments story...strange, un-relateable characters.....ugh. Not my favorite A. S. Byatt book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nicole | 2/16/2013

    " Very slow start with little action and a lot of the familiar linking of love, madness, & religion in this continuation of Frederica's story. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tammy | 11/26/2012

    " I didn't finish this book because I never could get into it... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Adele | 10/14/2012

    " Hmm, not really my type of book, nearly put it down but plodded on to the end regardless. It's part of a "quartet of novels" so maybe it doesn't stand alone as well as the jacket claims. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elisabeth | 8/23/2012

    " A hard intellectual read, that gives more the more you read it. So worth the effort "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robin | 6/10/2012

    " Fourth in the series, and every bit as compelling. Very satisfying. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sean | 11/9/2011

    " I read this book out of sequence, but I thought it was very well paced and very stimulating. Byatt is wonderful and I'm going to read the series from start to finish as soon as I get the chance! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rebecca | 7/27/2011

    " I was completely immersed, but come away feeling there was just too much going on and not enough attention/detail paid to the individuals in the cast of characters. They magically appeared when needed for the plot's twists, then abruptly disappeared again. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anna | 2/11/2011

    " Thank god I've gotten through all four. I wish I had more to say than that. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Taylar | 10/31/2010

    " A little different take on the life of Frederica Potter, the heroine of two previous Byatt novels. More religious themes and less literary criticism but all in all a good, solid read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Susan | 10/8/2010

    " Actually DNF - I tried. The beginning was AMAZING - the "fairy" tale but then it went nowhere VERY SLOWLY "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anna | 4/11/2010

    " Thank god I've gotten through all four. I wish I had more to say than that. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rebecca | 1/24/2010

    " I was completely immersed, but come away feeling there was just too much going on and not enough attention/detail paid to the individuals in the cast of characters. They magically appeared when needed for the plot's twists, then abruptly disappeared again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susannah | 1/21/2010

    " try as I may, A. S. Byatt doesn't float my boat. maybe i need to give some of her classic works a try (angels and insects, possession). i won't give up hope yet. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sean | 10/14/2009

    " I read this book out of sequence, but I thought it was very well paced and very stimulating. Byatt is wonderful and I'm going to read the series from start to finish as soon as I get the chance! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liza | 7/18/2009

    " The weakest of the Frederica tetralogy, but it's still fun for fans, nice to know what happens to the Potter (and i'm not talking Harry!) family. "

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About the Author

A. S. Byatt, a distinguished critic and author, was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge; Bryn Mawr College; and Somerville College, Oxford. In 1999 she was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Her other works include Possession, The Biographer’s Tale, and The Matisse Stories, among many others.

About the Narrator

Pamela Garelick was born in England. She acted in fringe theater there before coming to the United States, where she has worked as a voice-over artist in television and radio and as an audiobook narrator. Now living and working in Greece, she records, translates, and edits voice-overs from all over the world as well as narrating audiobooks in a small studio in her Mediterranean garden. She also paints silk clothing, bakes for the local cafés, and teaches newcomers the Greek language.