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Extended Audio Sample Disobedience Audiobook, by Jane Hamilton Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,955 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jane Hamilton Narrator: Robert Sean Leonard Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2000 ISBN: 9780553753226
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From Jane Hamilton, author of the beloved New York Times bestsellers A Map of the World and The Book of Ruth, comes a warmly humorous, poignant novel about a young man, his mother's e-mail, and the often surprising path of infidelity.

Henry Shaw, a high school senior, is about as comfortable with his family as any seventeen-year-old can be. His father, Kevin, teaches history with a decidedly socialist tinge at the Chicago private school Henry and his sister attend. His mother, Beth, who plays the piano in a group specializing in antique music, is a loving, attentive wife and parent. Henry even accepts the offbeat behavior of his thirteen-year-old sister, Elvira, who is obsessed with Civil War
reenactments and insists on dressing in handmade Union uniforms at inopportune times.

When he stumbles on his mother's e-mail account, however, Henry realizes that all is not as it seems. There, under the name Liza38, a name that Henry innocently established for her, is undeniable evidence that his mother is having an affair with one Richard Polloco, a violin maker and unlikely paramour who nonetheless has a very appealing way with words and a romantic spirit that, in Henry's estimation, his own father woefully lacks.

Against his better judgment, Henry charts the progress of his mother's infatuation, her feelings of euphoria, of guilt, and of profound, touching confusion. His knowledge of Beth's secret life colors his own tentative explorations of love and sex with the ephemeral Lily, and casts a new light on the arguments-usually focused on Elvira-in which his parents regularly indulge. Over the course of his final year of high school, Henry observes each member of the family, trying to anticipate when they will find out about the infidelity and what the knowledge will mean to each of them.

Henry's observations, set down ten years after that fateful year, are much more than the "old story" of adultery his mother deemed her affair to be. With her inimitable grace and compassion, Jane Hamilton has created a novel full of gentle humor and rich insights into the nature of love and the deep, mysterious bonds that hold families together. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • Ms. Hamilton gives Ruth a humble dignity and allows her hope-but it's not a heavenly hope. It's a common one, caked with mud and held with gritted teeth. And it's probably the only kind that's worth reading about. New York Times Book Review
  • It takes a writer of rare power and discipline to carry off an achievement like A Map of the World. Hamilton proves here that she is one of our best. Newsweek
  • Stunning prose and unforgettable characters...an enthralling tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying ways our lives can spin out of control. Entertainment Weekly (A+)
  • With intelligence and empathy-and drawing on rich veins of irony-Hamilton tells the story of  Walter's search to define his talents...at once surprising and redemptive. New York Times Book Review
  • Hamilton's third novel and arguably her best, for it matches its range of emotion with a technical precision both masterful and haunting...Hamilton has eased time and memory throughout her novel with the expert
    abandon of a dancer in full pirouette.
    Boston Globe

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Steph | 2/16/2014

    " I really had to slog through this one although, ultimately, I was touched by the ending. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ashley | 1/16/2014

    " This is the third book of Jane Hamilton's that I read and honestly...it was just ok. Suprisingly if I were an author I imagine myself to be exactly like her. (I guess I wouldn't like my own books, LOL!) She is just too wordy, she OVER explains, and brings up topics multiple times, beating them to death in my opinion. She is just not one of my favorites, yet I continue to read her books in the hope that I will like them. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Pat | 1/12/2014

    " I have been a Hamilton fan since "Map of the World," but I was very disappointed in this book. The characters were not realistic, despite an intriguing and viable premise. I thought the adolescent son's voice was stilted and the parents too weak to elicit the reader's empathy or interest. I didn't like any of the characters and forced myself to finish the book, hoping for a meaningful resolution, which never came. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 11/30/2013

    " Disobedience: A Novel by Jane Hamilton (2001) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shannon | 11/30/2013

    " This is an interesting book that takes a look at infidelity from a teenage son's perspective. He finds out about his mother's secret and it eats him alive. This book has very memorable characters and interesting historical references. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mel | 11/23/2013

    " Charming portrayal of a young female civil war re-enactor, sister of the narrator who discovers his mother's infidelity on-line. One becomes immersed in the mother's web through her son's eyes and is cheering for them both by the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kim | 11/22/2013

    " Interesting book, from a new perspective. This is not a book I would suggest to just anyone! Some people would be offended. I think this happens more often than we think! I will be keeping this book!!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Donna Johnson | 11/20/2013

    " This book was pretty good however it was interesting how the main character is so obsessed with his mother's affair. He spends his whole young adult life thinking about it and telling his grlfriends about it (??). I kept waiting for him to do something a little more useful and he never did. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vicky | 11/14/2013

    " The fact that the novel is written from the son's POV is what made this book stand out for me, and differentiated it from all other adultery/romance novels. Plots, subplots, narrative, use of pop culture, were all fantastic. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gwen | 11/5/2013

    " My Book Discussion Group picked this one. Disappointing because a big part of this novel includes the main character writing emails to and receiving them from her illicit lover in a time period (1970s) when emails did not yet exist. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie | 10/25/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book and Hamilton wasn't completely depressing this time! It was a unique look at a mid-life affair through the eyes of a teenage son. Interesting! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chinook | 8/31/2013

    " This book struck me as completely engrossing. A teenaged boy's narration of an affair his mother has during his last year of high school, but about so much more than that. I flew through it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amy Wochos | 6/25/2013

    " I actually read this twice because the book was so unmemorable. It wasn't until 2/3 of the way through second time that I realized I'd read it before. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin | 6/15/2013

    " great idea, impressively written. can hit a little close to home. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nicole | 5/29/2013

    " I started it, I read some of it, I didnt get into it, so I gave it away. Tragic I dont like living a book I dont finish but this one didnt pull me in. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 stephanie | 3/24/2013

    " i finished this. a week or two ago. i have no idea what it was about. i never do that. i generally remember every detail, every character's name. this book just passed through my life and i can't even tell you what it's about. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shirley | 1/20/2013

    " At first I slogged through this book -- teen age boy finds out Mom is having affair, obsesses over it for 200 pages or so -- last chapters were interesting; younger sister's story different, mother's thinking processes came out clearly. This is a very good writer, but it was so, so slow. "

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About the Author
Author Jane Hamilton

Jane Hamilton lives, works, and writes in an orchard farmhouse in Wisconsin. Her novels have won numerous awards, including the PEN Faulkner Award for Fiction, and The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World were both chosen as Oprah Book Club picks and made into movies. Her short stories have appeared in Harper’s Magazine. Hamilton lives in Rochester, Wisconsin.

About the Narrator

Robert Sean Leonard is an American actor best known for his role as Dr. James Wilson on the television series House M.D. His many film credits include The Dead Poets Society and The Age of Innocence. He has had numerous roles on Broadway, including The Invention of Love, for which he earned a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. He also is an award-winning narrator who has been part of several full-cast readings that were finalists for the prestigious Audie Award. He has garnered five AudioFile Earphones Awards, and his readings have been called “masterful” and “insightful” (AudioFile).