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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,012 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joyce Carol Oates Narrator: Jayne Atkinson Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2004 ISBN: 9780060794002
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One of America’s most acclaimed novelists boldly re-imagines one of America’s most enduring icons in Blonde—the National Book Award-nominated bestseller by Joyce Carol Oates. The legend of Marilyn Monroe—aka Norma Jeane Baker—comes provocatively alive in this powerful tale of Hollywood myth and heartbreaking reality. Marilyn Monroe lives—reborn to tell her untold history; her story of a star created to shine brightest in the Hollywood firmament before her fall to earth. Blonde is a dazzling fictional portrait of the intricate inner life of the idolized and desired movie star as only the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates could paint it.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Oates’ achievement is remarkable because the immediate, visceral impact of Monroe’s image is so very much a phenomenon of film, defying the inward-looking, speculative mind of literature…If a novel can't deliver Monroe’s beauty, a force that profoundly shaped how people behaved toward her, it can, better than any film, give us her interior world.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A true mythic blowout, in which Marilyn is everything and nothing.”

    GQ

  • “A fascinating imagining of the hellish battles that Monroe fought with herself.”

    Playboy

  • “An overwhelmingly vivid and powerful rendering of a human being who outlived her life.”

    New York Review of Books

  • Blonde itself is impressive; an eerie, gossipy, voyeuristic experience. Enticing, but also devastating.”

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

  • “Oates’ precise and inspired writing is close to witchcraft. With mastery, she unravels the story of a mythical blonde.”

    Jeanne Moreau

  • A 2000 National Book Award Finalist
  • A 2001 Pulitzer Prize Finalist
  • National Book Award Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sunny Shore | 2/13/2014

    " Loved this book....knew a lot about Marilyn, having read 2 bios of her and she has always fascinated me, remembering her movies and death in '62, when I was almost 10. I was wary of reading this fictional version,but it did not disappoint. I knew all the players and this fact enhanced the fictionalized version of Marilyn's life. So many emotions as I read this novel about a lost little girl growing into an extremely lonely and insecure woman. JCO's writing is beautiful and having one of my favorite authors writing a novel about the life of a celebrated,but misunderstood icon of the 20th century was just perfection for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melanie | 2/1/2014

    " Another incredible accomplishment. I never thought I would find Marilyn Monroe so fascinating and so sympathetic. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cindy Lofgren | 1/23/2014

    " The reason I gave this book 2 1/2 stars is because it is just way too lengthy. I felt like I had to trudge through the first half and put it down on many occasions for an emotional breather. The second half of the book - wow. I couldn't put it down. Norma Jeane lived such a short life and so many assumptions are made about her. I thought Joyce Carol Oates was kind to her in 95% of the book. I'm probably a sucker but I do believe she was "lost". She wasn't "born to be touched", but rather to touch others with her acting skills (who knows how far she could have gone with more training) and her one-of-a-kind personality and, of course, beauty. Her method acting seemed to play into her schizophrenic tendencies. I also believe the Kennedy conspiracy. I'm thinking that her death in the book wasn't too far from the actual way she died. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Coral | 1/23/2014

    " My first and last JCO book. I simply don't see what others do in her writing. It's awful! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 1/22/2014

    " a history of a sex symbol; from a feminist view point. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mollie | 1/22/2014

    " Well, I had a baby with about 200 pages to go. And then the library recalled it as someone else had it on hold. So have to pick it up again soon! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brianne Mintz | 1/21/2014

    " A little confusing, didn't make much sense.But I enjoyed it nonetheless. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amelia | 1/12/2014

    " I wish every book I love this much could go on as long as this one did. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shills | 1/8/2014

    " I love this author, and loved this book "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carlyn | 11/18/2013

    " I do not like the way Marilyn Monroe was portrayed in this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cynthia Kane | 11/2/2013

    " Brilliant and disturbing... Gave much food for thought and how much this is imagination versus truth. That said, I could not put this book down. And I gave it to my therapist afterwards to read... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurel | 10/18/2013

    " Umm, just read Bess's review. I concur. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karlin | 10/8/2013

    " A very intersting take on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Joyce makes Monroe a complex character and retells the myth more from Monroe's point of view. Wasn't a big Marilyn fan before but will definitely wathc more of her movies now. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dianne | 10/6/2013

    " I loved this book when I read it. If you have any interest in Marilyn Munroe and her extremely troubled life, I think you would like this book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tricia | 9/28/2013

    " Marilyn Monroe biography. Stopped in the middle - which I hardly ever do. Found it too emotional/depressing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Bobalik | 1/16/2013

    " A disturbing fictionalized biography of Marilyn Monroe. Joyce Carol Oates recounts the story of a young, damaged woman whose extreme beauty and innocence led her down the path of emotional unfulfillment and up the ladder of fame. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 YAK | 10/25/2012

    " after the biography of Marilyn by this fiction is an insight to Marilyn's life given by the imagination of a woman ... and Joyce is a brillant writer ... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lauren Zimmerman | 2/16/2012

    " Extremely lengthy but if you can dedicate the time and have any interest in Marilyn Monroe whatsoever, I would give it a go. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Douglas Wickard | 11/7/2011

    " What a read! Joyce Carol Oates is a master of the English language. Her ability to rope you in and take you for a ride is marvelous. This is a long, slow read, but you'll want to take you time and relish all her writerly gifts. Magical. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leyla | 6/25/2011

    " my all time favorite book on marilyn monroe. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aajibah' | 5/14/2011

    " I'm like a giddy school girl IN LOVE with this book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kim | 5/14/2011

    " My favorite JCO novel. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 4/23/2011

    " Too morbid and dark. Actually gave me anxiety to read it. "

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

    " I really, really adore Marilyn Monroe, and first time I read this at approx. 17 years of age, I simply loved it. However it lost a lot when I tried to read it once more. She's just trying to be so painfully poetic, it gets terribly annoying. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lauren | 3/17/2011

    " I love love love Oates, but struggled through this one a bit. I'm not sure if it was the way the book was written or the story of Marilyn which I imagined I would be different that didn't enchant me. I actually wouldn't mind re-reading it sometime... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caroline | 3/12/2011

    " Perfect vaca book - over 700 pages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patti | 2/25/2011

    " I really enjoy reading Joyce Carol Oates - and this was just as good as her other books. Of course the subject is depressing, but it was well done. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mollie | 1/14/2011

    " Well, I had a baby with about 200 pages to go. And then the library recalled it as someone else had it on hold. So have to pick it up again soon! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sharon | 1/6/2011

    " One of the best books I've ever read - and re-read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily | 1/4/2011

    " I loved this book so much I read it while walking. Another book I could not put down. And before I read this, I didn't give two hoots about Marilyn Monroe. Now I find her fascinating... and I owe it all to this book. The writing is beautiful. Joyce Carol Oates at her best. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Raelee | 12/26/2010

    " Hard to put down! It feels like you can really see into Marilyn's heart and mind. Even though this is fiction, it seemed real to me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brianne | 12/24/2010

    " A little confusing, didn't make much sense.But I enjoyed it nonetheless. "

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About the Author
Author Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and the New York Times bestsellers The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina Etranger, and The Gravedigger’s Daughter. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. In 2003 she received the Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature and the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, and in 2006 she received the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award.

About the Narrator

Jayne Atkinson was born in Bournemouth, UK, though her family relocated to the US in her early life. She graduated from Northwestern University in 1981 with a BA in Communications before attending Yale Drama School. Her Broadway credits also include The Rainmaker (Tony nomination), Our Town, Enchanted April (Tony nomination, Drama Desk nomination; Outer Critics Circle Award) and Blithe Spirit. She has also appeared off-Broadway in a number of productions, including The Art of Success (Drama Desk nomination) and The Skriker (Drama Desk nomination). On television she is known for her guest appearances on the hit series The X-Files, Law and Order, Gossip Girl, and White Collar. Most recently, she has had roles in the series Secretary of State and the Netfilix original series House of Cards. She is married to actor Michel Gill, whom she met during a 1989 production of The Heiress at Long Wharf Theatre. Together they have one son.