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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (704 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Leslie Daniels Narrator: Bernadette Dunne Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2011 ISBN: 9781470801199
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Blending bittersweet humor and defiant originality, this stunning debut about a woman rediscovering herself after a divorce explores the heartbreaking and sometimes funny aspects of the mess called love.

Barb Barrett has inadequate skills for relationships. In particular, she cannot follow her husband’s instructions. Because of this character “flaw,” she falls through the safety net of her lousy marriage, losing custody of her children and her home as she plummets. Guided only by her intense inner life, and a questionable business plan, Barb is determined to reinvent herself. She moves into a house once occupied by the literary genius Vladimir Nabokov, author of the notorious Lolita. She discovers what could be Nabokov’s last unpublished manuscript and from there begins a painful yet joyous journey that is deliciously romantic, both darkly comic and wise.

Introducing a dazzling new voice in fiction, Cleaning Nabokov’s House will enchant women’s fiction lovers with an accessible and engaging voice they will come to cherish.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Cleaning Nabokov’s House is original and compelling, the sort of book that keeps a reader on her toes—wildly funny one minute and profoundly sober the next. The protagonist is delightful, the plot a marvelous weave of sex, food, money, and motherhood. Every page a joy.”

    Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club

  • “The pleasures of the novel unfold in a series of tantalizing, laugh-out-loud twists. The portrayals are as heartrending as the writing is dead-on funny, and the storytelling is both quirky and captivating. I was swept along like a trout in a clear stream. Bravo.”

    Janet Fitch, New York Times bestselling author of White Oleander

  • “In spite of its odd title, this is a wonderfully original, charming, and funny novel about what to do when your world has turned upside down, and how to get through a long cold rural winter by opening a house of ill repute.”

    Alison Lurie, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “In Barbara, Leslie Daniels has created a character to root for.”

    Los Angeles Times

  •  “Daniels accesses some new territory while still giving readers what they want when they want in a light, semi-literary romantic comedy…Authentic, often devastating depictions of a mother missing her children…raise this book above the rest.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Vladimir Nabokov, a small town’s sex trade, and a mother’s fight to win back her children don’t often have much to do with one another. But in Cleaning Nabokov’s House they do—and brilliantly so. There is not a false note or flat phrase anywhere in this surprising, moving, sexy, and very, very funny book. Leslie Daniels has written one of those rare tales that makes you wish you could meet all of the characters for tea—and makes you regret that they exist only in the author’s imagination. But what an extraordinary imagination it is.”

    Jeffrey Kluger, author of Apollo 13

  • “Literature and Letters meet the oldest profession at the hand of one of the most hysterical narrators to come along in ages. Cleaning Nabokov's House is an epic comedy told in an epic new voice.”

    Holiday Reinhorn, author of Big Cats

  • “Daniels is warmly funny and audacious in this shrewd and saucy mix of family drama, gender discord, sexual healing, and high literature; a raucous yet sensitive tale of one quirky woman’s struggle to overcome the lowest of low self-esteem to get motherhood and love right.”

    Booklist

  • “Daniels writes her story with refreshingly eccentric twists, holding readers’ interest…Her characters live and breathe, and the humor, energy, wit, and edgy look at small-town mores make this a delightful read. It will appeal to fiction readers, especially women.”

    Library Journal

  • “Daniels’ writing is slick and her characters richly detailed, and even when it dips into sheer goofiness, it's still a pleasure to read.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Barb is fine company—blunt, mordantly funny, with a winning combination of ruthlessness and warmth.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “A spare, humorous, and heart-wrenching story.”

    PublishersMarketplace.com

  • Selected for the March 2011 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Melissa Lee-tammeus | 2/2/2014

    " Thought this would be a fun chick lit style book that I could read while waiting to pick up my kid at school. I like the style of writing - quick and to the point. But I quickly found out I don't like the main character, at all. I also found out I know nothing about Nabokov and wasn't interested enough to find out. Again, may be worth the read, if you can get past the blase' attitude of a mother who has lost her kids and the short, clipped sentences that at first I thought were supposed to be cute and funny but now just seem inappropriate and out of place. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bunny | 1/30/2014

    " It was hard to get into this book at first, but then when it really started to flow together I liked it. This isn't a wow it was great book but it was good. But the whole book seemed to center around the fictional book she found in the walls about Babe Ruth, but at the end of the story that really had no closure. Its as if the writer got distracted or had a deadline coming too fast and had to put a happy ending on it way too fast. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gayle | 1/25/2014

    " The writing was all over the place. Great idea, but too disjointed for me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tim | 1/21/2014

    " Started strong, but really lost focus as the story progressed (or didn't). I was hoping for more. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim | 1/2/2014

    " I liked this honest portrait of the protagonist. Very different storyline, which I appreciate. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa | 12/30/2013

    " This book started out a little slow but got better at the end. It was a good but odd book. The chapters aren't numbered as chapters but as points in the character's life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 sylph | 12/21/2013

    " I cried for a minute or two when I finished this book, because I wished I'd written it myself. It isn't that it's perfect. There are some disjointed patches. But 5 stars because it's thought-provoking and captivating all the way through, rather original in story and idea, and almost awkwardly real. Probably I'd say 4.5 stars but they don't let you do that. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 12/17/2013

    " So funny! Chuckles, chortles, chuckles, snorts, this book is so funny. Thank you, Leslie Daniels! More, more! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marika Mc | 12/11/2013

    " I'm not sure if this woman is depressing or pathetic, but she's still mildly interesting and funny. You definitely truly want her to pull herself out of her miserable life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maggie | 12/10/2013

    " This is a wacky/funny/poignant read about a woman who is in an abysmal place in her life & just needs to find a way back to herself. There are some unexpected twists & turns in the plot; some you see coming, some you don't. It's a quick & easy read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Erin | 12/9/2013

    " I thought that the premise of this book, getting your life together might make a good story. However, I didn't really like it all that much. I just never felt like I connected with the main character and while parts of the book were funny it just made it hard to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 E | 6/5/2013

    " When finding a lost Nabokov manuscript about Babe Ruth and baseball is one of the *less* zany parts of a book... you know you've got something good. A goofy wish-fulfillment romance. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carol | 6/2/2013

    " An amusing fun read, not the type of book I would usually like. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joann | 5/7/2013

    " Witty and wonderful. Sexy and laugh-out-loud funny. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 4/6/2013

    " I had a fun time reading this incredibly improbable story. I liked that it was supposed to take place in Ithaca NY and that the fictitious university was supposed to be Cornell. Two of my children, a daughter-in-law and my husband are alums. Reality must be suspended; it was a fun read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie Aschenbrenner | 8/12/2012

    " I am loving this book! It is so quirky with moments of laugh out loud humor! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amy | 7/13/2012

    " I tried reading this book and it didn't grab me. I found the main character unlikable and grating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Perkimom | 2/21/2012

    " Enjoyed this book a lot. Loved the main character...though I probably would not seek her out as a friend, her many layers kept me reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Whitney Jacoby | 9/8/2011

    " This is such a fun and surprising read! It is really great literary women's fiction! I don't want to spoil it, but it is a truly unique and wonderful read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sophie Slezak | 8/26/2011

    " CLEANING NABOKOV'S HOUSE is a witty, whimsical, heartrending, fun read. I would recommend this to anyone who likes to read books which have lots of components to them, not just one such as romance.Hopefully, Leslie Daniels will continue to write longer pieces of fiction. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Whitney | 5/21/2011

    " Mmmm... This was ok, I enjoyed the writer's smooth style of writing but the story itself was hard to relate to. I found it ironic when Margie said of Nabokov's manuscript, "Would it have killed him to put more plot into it?" I feel your pain Margie! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margaret | 5/18/2011

    " Strange at first, but as the book went on, I enjoyed it. It is not great literature, but it is a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christy | 5/16/2011

    " I'm a little bit surprised at how much I liked this book. I was initially very unsympathetic to Barb, but I came to appreciate her and her choices. Some of it was implausible, but I didn't mind when there were lines that had me chuckling out loud. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Monica | 5/8/2011

    " Described as quirky by some readers - I thought it tried too hard to be quirky, didn't feel genuine. Story was o.k. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 5/5/2011

    " A charming, funny novel about a recently divorced woman who discovers that she is living in Nabokov's former house. She has a clever sense of humor and there is evidence of that on every page. This is a fun, easy book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 4/27/2011

    " I had a fun time reading this incredibly improbable story. I liked that it was supposed to take place in Ithaca NY and that the fictitious university was supposed to be Cornell. Two of my children, a daughter-in-law and my husband are alums. Reality must be suspended; it was a fun read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Connie | 4/18/2011

    " A light,entertaining and comical book with a central focus on sexual activity so this will not be for every reader. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer | 4/14/2011

    " I loved This quirky, funny book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joann | 4/10/2011

    " Witty and wonderful. Sexy and laugh-out-loud funny. "

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About the Author

Leslie Daniels’ stories have appeared in Ploughshares, the Missouri Review, the Florida Review, Gulf Coast, the Santa Monica Review, and the New Ohio Review. The Shooting Gallery in New York City produced her one-act play. She has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Associated Writing Programs. In 2005 she became the fiction editor for the Green Mountains Review. In 2010 she relinquished that gig to focus on other projects.

About the Narrator

Bernadette Dunne is the winner of numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards and has twice been nominated for the prestigious Audie Award. She studied at the Royal National Theatre in London and the Studio Theater in Washington, DC, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center and off Broadway. She lives in Brooklyn.