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Extended Audio Sample A Whistling Woman, by A. S. Byatt Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (666 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:
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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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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