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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,570 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Emma Donoghue Narrator: James Langton, Khristine Hvam, Robert Petkoff, Suzanne Toren, Dion Graham, various narrators Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue’s stories have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters, lovers old and new. They are gold miners and counterfeiters, attorneys and slaves. They cross other borders too: those of race, law, sex, and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress.

With rich historical detail, the celebrated author of Room takes us from puritan Massachusetts to revolutionary New Jersey, antebellum Louisiana to the Toronto highway, lighting up four centuries of wanderings that have profound echoes in the present. Astray offers us a surprising and moving history for restless times.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Time and again, Emma Donoghue writes books that are unlike anything I have ever seen before, and Astray is no exception. There is such a deep and compassionate imagination at work in every story in this collection that Astray feels almost like an act of clairvoyance.”

    Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author of Bel Canto

  • “Emma Donoghue is one of the great literary ventriloquists of our time. Her imagination is kaleidoscopic. She steps borders and boundaries with great ease and style. In her hands the centuries dissolve, and then they crystallize back again into powerful words on the page.”

    Colum McCann, National Book Award–winning author

  • “These stories are striking for their range and freedom…One senses cumulatively throughout this book the capacious curiosity of Emma Donoghue’s mind and the breadth of her knowledge…Never dull, these stories illuminate worlds like a magic lantern…Donoghue’s imagination can alight upon almost anything and revivify it.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “Donoghue breathes life into stories that seem like nothing more than footnotes in the grand scheme of history but are important reminders of all the little things we miss looking at the big picture.”

    The Tennessean

  • “A beautifully rendered collection of hauntingly vivid short stories.”

    USA Today (4 stars)

  • “Splendid…An original and compelling collection.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Haunting…These seekers and their stories pull you in—and stir your heart.”

    People (four stars)

  • “The tales…feel like discoveries, stories that were waiting to be told.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Donoghue’s Astray masters the long reach of short tales…What is most impressive about these stories is her ability to plumb historical footnotes for timeless emotional resonance and reanimate ‘real people who left traces in the historical record.’”

    Washington Post

  • “From England, Canada, and the United States, Donoghue has created a restless world of travelers, finders, and seekers, as well as a book that is an interactive narrative hybrid, one that gets us lost in other lives, that probes our history, that reveals the artist behind the word, and that ultimately shows us something fresh, unsettling, and enduring about ourselves.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Donoghue achieves the effect of creating magic and wonder in the real world. To follow Donoghue into the unknown is one of the most pleasurable experiences I can think of.”

    Daily Beast

  • “Donoghue’s affinity for yesteryear’s untold tales is charming, and her talent for dialect is hard to overstate, which is why it’s the first-person stories in Astray that shine brightest…Each and every one of Donoghue’s characters leaves an impression.”


  • “The stories are showcases for a wide range of speaking voices studded with period vernacular.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Dazzling…All the voices are so distinct, the plots so diverse, that the reading experience is a bit like nibbling from a long, strange, trippy literary buffet. Comedy, history, legal drama, political intrigue, adventure…all served up side by side in one volume. It’s wonderful.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “Donoghue is gifted at imagining narrators from all walks of life…Anyone who appreciates a well-told tale will enjoy these fourteen short stories. It’s perfect for the bedside table or the quiet commute—rich tales by a writer near the top of her game.”

    Associated Press

  • “Emma Donoghue’s characters seem thoroughly unique and alive.”

    Time Out New York

  • “An intriguing new story collection…Change is inevitable for the migrant—and for us all. In Astray, Donoghue makes us tremble at the idea and revel in its possibilities.”

    Miami Herald

  • “We were interested to see if Donoghue’s third-person narration skills translated well into the oftentimes more complicated vernacular of adults hailing from different eras and different corners of the globe…In our opinion, she succeeded.”

    Huffington Post

  • “Donoghue is…something of a literary archaeologist, speaking in voices that have been lost…Donoghue’s empathic imagination is remarkable…so convincing that the reader feels these stories could be actual historical narratives.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “This collection is filled with such acts of imaginative sympathy—each chiseling all that one can, from what Donoghue aptly describes as ‘the shadowy mass of all that’s been lost.’”

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

  • “A well-written collection of short stories that go back and forth between despair and hope.”

    The Daily Texan

  • “Sensitive and intuitive…Moves fearlessly between centuries and between genders…Donoghue displays a ventriloquist’s uncanny ability to slip in and out of voices…and she reveals them all, in their place of exile, with gentle yet devastating truth.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “The stories are taut, vivid, and memorable, and the collection reveals Donoghue’s remarkable gift for placing herself in the minds of people who otherwise might be lost to history.”

    Columbus Dispatch

  • Astray is an exceptional uniting of history and imagination.”

    Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

  • “Donoghue establishes a distinct voice and person and the stories are vivid, curious, and honest.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Masterful…Revolutionary-era New Jersey, Civil War–era Texas, the gold rush Yukon, and many other settings come to life in this wonderfully imaginative, transporting collection.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “This book demonstrates once again that there’s little she can’t do well; indeed, the afterword is as moving as the stories…The short story can be a precious, self-enclosed form, but in Donoghue’s bold hands, it crosses continents and centuries to claim kinship with many kinds of people…Another exciting change of pace from the protean Donoghue.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Each tale is based on an event or person whose story the author unearthed from an old newspaper or archive and is followed by information on some of the research involved. Many of these richly detailed shorts are told in the first person, and the fabulous cadre of narrators (James Langton, Khristine Hvam, Robert Petkoff, Suzanne Toren, and Dion Graham) bring these little gems vividly to life.”

    Library Journal

  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • Selected for the November 2012 Indie Next List
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Winner of a 2013 Audie Award for Short Stories/Collections
  • A 2012 Barnes & Noble Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Julia Rotte | 2/16/2014

    " Short stories and vignettes sparked off historical facts or news articles that caught the author's eye - but you get the story first and the context later. A travel/misplacement-themed collection written in the most interesting voices. Nothing as daring as Room, but nevertheless highly skilled and imaginative. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Carrie | 2/5/2014

    " I don't typically enjoy short stories and only picked up this book because I really liked her book Room. But I actually enjoyed this book a lot (once I got into it). The idea for each of the stories came from some historical event/document/record, and that may be why I liked them. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Mythili | 2/3/2014

    " Donoghue really picks some wonderful, unforgettable characters from history to bring to life here -- characters that will stay with me for a while. The stories are quick, and so the reader feels more like an entertained spectator than an invested party, but they're extremely vivid too. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Dona | 1/25/2014

    " By the last short story, I was totally taken in by the characters Donoghue created using newspaper and magazine accounts of individuals who lived during previous centuries as her inspiration. I wouldn't say there's a truly happy ending in the bunch, but each story is intriguing and contains a bit of a twist. "

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