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Extended Audio Sample Lark and Termite, by Jayne Anne Phillips Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,377 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jayne Anne Phillips Narrator: James Yaegashi, Cynthia Darlow, Kate Forbe Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Lark and Termite is set during the 1950s in West Virginia and Korea. It is a story of the power of loss and love, the echoing ramifications of war, family secrets, dreams and ghosts, and the unseen, almost magical bonds that unite and sustain us.

At its center, two children: Lark, on the verge of adulthood, and her brother, Termite, a child unable to walk and talk but filled with radiance. Around them, their mother, Lola, a haunting but absent presence; their aunt Nonie, a matronly, vibrant woman in her fifties, who raises them; and Termite’s father, Corporal Robert Leavitt, who finds himself caught up in the chaotic early months of the Korean War.

Told with deep feeling, the novel invites us to enter into the hearts and thoughts of the leading characters, even into Termite’s intricate, shuttered consciousness. We are with Leavitt, trapped by friendly fire alongside the Korean children he tries to rescue. We see Lark’s dreams for Termite and her own future, and how, with the aid of a childhood love and a spectral social worker, she makes them happen. We learn of Lola’s love for her soldier husband and her children, and unravel the mystery of her relationship with Nonie. We discover the lasting connections between past and future on the night the town experiences an overwhelming flood, and we follow Lark and Termite as their lives are changed forever.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Phillips gives each scene an evocative, often lyrical description, but the mystical elements of the story and the improbable ending undermine an otherwise moving exploration of familial love.

    New Yorker

  • “Mysterious, affecting…reveals [a family’s] tangled secrets in such a profound and intimate way that these ordinary, wounded people become both tragic and magnificent.” 

    Washington Post Book World

  • Lark and Termite offers substantial rewards for readers who value passages of gorgeous, intelligent writing with intricate literary architecture.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Once you open its hypnotic pages you will find yourself pulled like metal to a magnet [Termite’s] sequences are virtuoso segments in which Phillips plays English the way Casals played Bach.” 

    Dallas Morning News

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A February 2009 Indie Next Notable Title
  • A 2009 Chicago Tribune Book of the Year
  • A 2009 Christian Science Monitor Book of the Year
  • A 2009 Washington Post Book World Best Book of the Year
  • A 2009 Los Angeles Times Best Book
  • A Barnes & Noble Recommends Selection
  • A 2009 National Book Award Finalist
  • A 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
  • A 2009 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Carole | 2/18/2014

    " I found this to be a wonderful study in perception since all of the books characters see the world so differently. You are inside the head of the father who is dying early in the Korean War, inside the head of Lark who is in high school and whose world is, at one level a normal teen, and at another bounded by her relationships to her mysterious and missing parents, and Termite, her younger brother handicapped by hydrocephalus. You are also in Termite's head and at moments perceive the world through his almost extrasensory perception with a delicacy of feeling and made me wish to touch the world in the same way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ted | 2/15/2014

    " The story of a sister and her brain damaged brother quickly fills up around you like the flood waters that drench the poor West Virginia town where it is set. Interesting use of multiple narrators somehow allows a character who doesn't speak to communicate to the reader in a very real way. Minor quips with the neat ending but overall very enjoyable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bonnie | 2/11/2014

    " I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves literature, Fauukner or is already a fan of Jayne Phillips. The book is told from different characters' point of view --the soldier Robert Leavitt in Korea, and some of his family in West Virginia 9 yrs. later. Through their voices we learn of the haunting history of this family. The book is about ordinary people in very difficult circumstances. The writing can be difficult at times --but worth the effort. The writer is gifted! Lark and Termite (sister and brother, same mother different fathers) are characters you come to care about --Lark is bright, resilient and generous; Termite is autistic, bright and physically handicapped. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Christian | 2/4/2014

    " This book hooked me. I struggled with it, at first, but once I gave myself over to what the author was doing, it really swept me off my feet. "

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