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Download Forty Rooms Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Forty Rooms Audiobook, by Olga Grushin Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Olga Grushin Narrator: Christa Lewis Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2016 ISBN: 9781504666787
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Totally original in conception and magnificently executed, Forty Rooms is mysterious, withholding, and ultimately emotionally devastating. Olga Grushin is dealing with issues of women’s identity—of women’s choices—that no modern novel has explored so deeply.

“Forty rooms” is a conceit: it proposes that a modern woman will inhabit forty rooms in her lifetime. They form her biography, from childhood to death. For our protagonist, the much-loved child of a late marriage, the first rooms she is aware of as she nears the age of five are those that make up her family’s Moscow apartment. We follow this child as she reaches adolescence, leaves home to study in America, and slowly discovers sexual happiness and love. But her hunger for adventure and her longing to be a great poet conspire to kill the affair. She seems to have made her choice. But one day she runs into a college classmate. He is sure of his path through life and is protective of her, and they eventually drift into an affair and marriage.

What follows are the decades of births and deaths, the celebrations, material accumulations, and home comforts—until one day, her children grown and gone, her husband absent, she finds herself alone except for the ghosts of her youth, who have come back to haunt and even taunt her.

Compelling and complex, Forty Rooms is also profoundly affecting, its ending shattering but true. We know that Mrs. Caldwell (for that is the only name by which we know her) has died. Was it a life well lived? Quite likely. Was it a life complete? Does such a life ever really exist? Life is, after all, full of trade-offs and choices. Who is to say her path was not well taken? It is this ambiguity that is at the heart of this provocative novel.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Sly and devastating…The focus is decidedly personal, relatable to anyone striving to live deeply…Full of original and quoted poems, this heartbreaking novel is an invitation to contemplate whether the richness and ambition of one’s life has to correspond to the proportion’s of one’s landscape. The corners of even the smallest rooms needn’t be confining, but places where ‘forces of the universe [run] deeper,’ if only one knows how to look, how to feel.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “The reader’s impulse to grapple with the text, to wrestle it down and to raise objections or to attempt to identify her own place in the context of the story, is a sign not of weakness, but of Grushin’s genius. This is a text that rewards rereading and demands engagement…But even as there is much to question, and much with which to argue, there is also plenty of opportunity for empathy, and that is no mean achievement…and to recognize the compromises and broken dreams therein…it is the heartbreak at the sometimes barely glimpsed edges of these compromises and broken dreams that provides the novel’s dramatic tension.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “From brilliance squandered to promise unfulfilled…Ms. Grushin’s ingenious and original conceit is to chronicle the chapters of this woman’s life through the rooms she occupies.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Grushin beautifully renders a riddle of our time.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “The novel opens up to consider whether being an artist is something one does or something one is. In moments like this, Grushin’s honesty about the dilemmas of artistic life shines through…drawing the story toward an unexpectedly moving end.”

    Washington Post

  • “This book is captivating in both concept and execution. It’s a collection of forty short stories that follow a woman through her life, one story for each room she inhabits, from her childhood home to her college apartment to her first house and beyond… Filled with beautiful and surreal moments that perfectly capture the magic that can exist in real life, this book has extraordinary depth of imagination and emotion.”


  • “Grushin, the Russian American author of the extraordinary Dream Life of Sukhanov, spins a Bovary plot into a mystical tapestry, complete with ghostly harbingers, jarring shifts in perspective, and linguistic fillips most native-born writers would envy.”


  • “Honest, tender, and exquisitely crafted. A novel to savor.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “An enchanted meditation on poetry and life…Grushin best captures the nagging regrets of her tortured artist in a magically lyrical pair of conversations with her bitter and bowed husband. At the end of life, Grushin concludes that the impossible, irresistible path of art is what’s most joyful—and memorable.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “The main character’s inner life is rich with feeling, her meditations on her writing made vivid through conversations with a dangerous visitor to her dreams.”


  • “The genius of Forty Rooms is…its suggestion that a betrayal of childhood dreams can still allow for a life filled with meaning, one that is contradictory, replete with loss, contentment, regret, and its own definition of purpose. Forty Rooms is a beautiful, moving novel of dreams that reflects life as it is lived.”

    Shelf Awareness

  • “Add the female protagonist of Forty Rooms, Olga Grushin’s moving new novel, to the roster of characters who have grappled with the age-old question of art vs. domesticity…a sensitive and exquisitely told meditation on the pleasures of art.”


  • A Bustle Pick of February 2016’s Best Books to Light Up Your Winter
  • A Town & Country Magazine Pick for Must-Reads of Spring 2016 
  • A Vulture.com Pick for 8 Books You Need to Read This February
  • A Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2016 Selection for Fiction
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About the Author

Olga Grushin was born in Moscow in 1971. After studying art and journalism in Moscow, she was awarded a full scholarship to Emory University in 1989. Her first novel, The Dream Life of Sukhanov, earned her a place on Granta’s list of Best Young American Novelists and won her the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award; it was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Best First Novel award and for Britain’s Orange Prize. In 2002 she became an American citizen. She lives in Potomac, Maryland.

About the Narrator

Christa Lewis, winner of several AudioFile Earphones Awards, is a classically trained actress and a graduate of Boston University’s four-year conservatory training program. She has worked full time at the microphone since getting her start as a newsreader for an international news broadcaster and now narrates audiobooks full time.