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Extended Audio Sample Blame: A Novel, by Michelle Huneven Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,547 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michelle Huneven Narrator: Hillary Huber Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2015 ISBN: 9781504628259
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Blame is a spellbinding novel of guilt and love, family and shame, sobriety and the lack of it, and the moral ambiguities that ensnare us all.

Patsy MacLemoore, a history professor in her late twenties, has a brand-new PhD from Berkeley and a wild streak. She wakes up in jail after an epic alcoholic blackout. “Okay, what’d I do?” she asks her lawyer and jailers. In fact, two Jehovah’s Witnesses, a mother and daughter, are dead, run over in Patsy’s driveway.

Patsy will spend the rest of her life trying to atone. She goes to prison, gets sober, and upon her release finds a new community (and a husband) in AA. She resists temptations, strives for goodness, and becomes a selfless teacher, friend, and wife.

Then, decades later, another unimaginable piece of new information turns up. For the reader, it is an electrifying moment, a joyous, fall-off-the-couch-with-surprise moment. For Patsy, it is more complicated. Blame must be reapportioned, her life reassessed.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Like that other West Coast chronicler of struggling Americans, Raymond Carver…[Huneven] is not interested in literary pretension or postmodern razzle-dazzle, but in achieving a measure of truth—and her generous, engaging novel does just that.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Brilliant observations, excellent characters, spiffy dialogue, and a clever plot keep readers hooked, and the final twist turns Patsy’s new life on its ear. Huneven’s exploration of misdeeds real and imagined is humane, insightful and beautiful.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A sympathetic, well-wrought story of a brilliant young woman’s slow crawl toward self-understanding after her life is upended by a horrible accident…The satisfactions Blame offers readers are elegant prose and, deeper than that aesthetic pleasure, the intelligence and compassion Huneven brings to her characters. She holds them all with the utmost tenderness.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “An elegant, hair-raising novel…Huneven’s prose is flawless, with especially arresting descriptions of the Southern California landscape, and her strong but fragile heroine is mercilessly honest.”

    New Yorker

  • “For Huneven, the blame of the title isn't some black-and-white object to explain or assign so much as it is something to explore in countless shades of gray. The result is a novel that combines the compulsive pleasures of a page-turner and the deeper satisfaction of true, thoughtful literature. A-”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Sly yet openhearted, Michelle Huneven’s Blame takes on the recovery movement in this novel about Patsy MacLemoore, a slightly wild, 20-something history professor involved in an alcohol-related crime. All too flawed, Patsy eventually finds redemption, only to wind up questioning her hard-won moral certainties later on. Think The Good Mother or House of Sand and Fog: It’s that good.”

    O magazine

  • “In her writing style, Huneven reminds me of Richard Russo: somber, but laced with elements of humor, friendship, and joy. She writes side characters so rich they could each carry their own novel…though Huneven’s take on addiction and recovery makes Blame a great read for anyone dealing with these issues, it’s also the kind of book that's perfect for someone who wouldn’t normally touch a book on the subject with a ten-foot pole.”

    NPR, Top Picks From Indie Booksellers

  • “Hillary Huber’s throaty voice and sarcastic undertones convey the character of young college professor Patsy MacLemoore…Both narrator and author keep to a solid pace as they trace Patsy’s growth during two years of prison—then her release, remorse, redemption, and much later, a startling revelation. Detailed sensory descriptions of Patsy’s life in Altadena Prison make convincing the story’s contrasting realities. Huber’s on-target portrayals of minor characters and her snappy rendition of spicy dialogue also contribute to the compelling listening.”

    AudioFile

  • One of Oprah’s Terrific Reads of 2009
  • A 2009 Chicago Tribune Book of the Year for Fiction
  • A 2009 Washington Post Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2009 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Fiction
  • A 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Fiction
  • A 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kimberly Horton | 2/11/2014

    " interesting story, but got a bit slow in the middle. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan | 2/6/2014

    " Wow. This book was fascinating and personal. The main character is an alcoholic who kills two people while driving. The book details her recovery from this experience. I truly appreciated the perspective. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jane | 2/5/2014

    " The books starts out with an interesting plot idea - how does an alcoholic deal with the guilt that she has killed two people while driving drunk. How does she handle the guilt? How does she rebuild her life? I listened to this book on CD and maybe that's why I didn't quite keep up with the rambling plot and many characters, but for me, it didn't quite live up to its promise. It did have some intereting twists and turns throughout. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Donna | 1/31/2014

    " "Waking up in jail after an alcoholic blackout, history professor Patsy McLemoore learns that she accidentally killed two people, an event for which she spends decades atoning and transforming her life for the better before learning a perspective-changing truth." "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jessica | 1/23/2014

    " A book about an alcoholic who goes to jail for killing 2 people. And surprise! It turns her life around. But wow, this book dragged on for me and the supposedly huge SURPRISE TWIST in the storyline was not that big and great. I guess it is a good book to help you not ever want to drink alcohol. But slow. Slow. Slow. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Virginia Leen | 1/19/2014

    " Really good, thought-provoking story. I spent a few days annoyed that I didn't get a clearer answer to questions posed, but then realized that the moral and ethical ambiguity was the whole point. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Courtney | 1/14/2014

    " This novel is the story of Patsy, an alcoholic who blacks out one night and wakes up in jail with no idea why she got there. She learns that she has killed a mother and daughter. You follow Patsy through her time in jail, getting sober, and then readjusting to the outside world once she serves her sentence. This is a novel of blame, forgiveness, and redemption, with a few twists thrown in. I really loved it, but the only thing that annoyed me is that quotation marks aren't used in conversation! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 reed | 1/14/2014

    " This one pulled me right in and I enjoyed it until almost the very end - which could have used more oomph. But the meticulous detail and characterization really makes this book a pleasure to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 1/13/2014

    " Slow starter but glad I hung in there. Beautifully, lyrically written. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Suzy | 1/9/2014

    " This month's book club selection - feeling a little let down. I thought this book was one thing, turned out to be another (cryptic, I know, but I don't want to risk spoiling it for someone else!). Could have been done better is all I'm saying. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grace Smiley | 12/12/2013

    " A thoughtfully written exploration of how decisions affect one woman's life, as the repercussions of her drinking trickle through her life "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharon Jackson | 12/8/2013

    " Was not a good as I thought it would be. Could have been much more powerful. I felt that the theme of living with guilt was not explored as much as it could have been. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 10/20/2013

    " This was a good book. Subject was different than I have read before. In some cases it's sad because you walk through Patty's drunken life, her prison life, and then her recovery. The book is full of life, death, marriage, and love. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate Mayberry | 8/27/2013

    " I so appreciated this story of this woman, a recovering alcoholic, who tries to create a new life that she can live with. Very easy to relate to the main character, Patsy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 2/14/2013

    " I listened to the unabridged audiobook. Thought it was very gripping. I loved the pace and related well with the protagonist. Great narrator on this one! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharon Fair-Rogalski | 12/24/2012

    " This book begins with the protagonist waking up in jail and being told she has run over and killed two people while she was in a drunken blackout. Her story is very interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debi | 3/30/2012

    " Well-written, but not nearly as wonderful as "Jamesland" "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leah Ludwig | 3/25/2012

    " A good read and kept me turning the pages. Did not see the surprise at the end coming at all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Catherine | 2/1/2012

    " Subtle messages we can all learn. Rich text and story. Found the ending a bit flat. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eric pearson | 10/29/2011

    " Not the best I have ever read. Was very predictable and not really memorable "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 9/1/2011

    " Wonderful book! Great read... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 leanne | 4/5/2011

    " Compelling read about a woman who goes to jail for killing a mother and child with her car during a drunken blackout and how she turns her life around afterwards. Couldn't put it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 C. | 4/1/2011

    " This book wasn't necessarily what I expected, but it was a pretty good story about a woman who's partying ways put her in a very difficult spot. If you're looking for a book about alcoholism in a more every-day sense, this isn't the book to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diana | 3/27/2011

    " This book is about a woman who has to deal with the fact that she has killed some people while she was driving drunk. The story has several twists and turns and makes you really feel for the woman as she adjusts to the fact that one mistake has changed her entire life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jane | 3/20/2011

    " Huneven's insight into a recovering alcoholic's mindset was perhaps the best part of this book. It is worth the read just for that aspect. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 2/5/2011

    " Couldn't put it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gretchen | 1/28/2011

    " A good read, not really suspenseful, as the cover and jkt copy might lead you to believe, but a really good story. "

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