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Extended Audio Sample Lark and Termite Audiobook, 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 Forbes Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2009 ISBN: 9781440708572
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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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joanne Ader | 1/21/2014

    " This was a bit difficult to follow as she changed characters each chapter as well as time frames. I guess I was a bit disappointed as I had heard rave reviews about the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dayna Collins | 1/19/2014

    " Nuanced and lovely. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 K | 1/17/2014

    " Exquisite prose and an interwoven narrative make this an unforgettable novel. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 1/9/2014

    " Very, very pretty writing. And surprisingly engaging for not having much in the way of plot until the last seventy pages. Loved it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Quiltgranny | 12/31/2013

    " I just couldn't get through this at all. Sorry to say, but it sounded like a good plot, but it was dry, dry, dry. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristi | 12/4/2013

    " this one took me a while to love, but about halfway through i got there. I will most definitely read this a second and probably a third time...it's so lush, dense, and i know there's so much I missed. Reminds me a lot of Faulkner's Sound and the Fury, and as difficult in places, but also worth it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kyrlyn | 11/27/2013

    " Really, a 3.5. Interesting and poetic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim Lunsford | 11/20/2013

    " Worth a re-read to "get it", but overall a well-told story from unique perspectives. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzy | 10/20/2013

    " This was a cool book and unlike any book I have read - it's a quick and captivating read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kylah | 10/17/2013

    " I've heard this book is only worth reading the last 1/2, but I loved it from Chapter One! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie | 8/18/2013

    " Very cleverly constructed, switching back and forth between A battlefield in Korea and West Virginia, this is a compelling story about what family means and what each of us owes another. And who can resist kids named Lark and Termite? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sandralee | 4/18/2013

    " It's simply a beautifully written book. The story is multi-layered with several narrators. However, it is not hard to follow. Life is not explainable and Phillips uses the mystical to illustrate this truth. BTW, there is a trade paperback copy at the Friends of the Library Used Bookstore in Sylva. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 4/17/2013

    " This might be one of those books that should be read in print. I listened to the audiobook, and while the narrators did a great job, I lost interest, particularly during Termite's father's parts. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Larkin | 12/16/2012

    " This book was a chore for me. I wanted to engage in parts of the story, but found myself daydreaming in other parts. And the parts that did interest me, ended in a very unsatisfying resolution. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna | 11/6/2012

    " I liked the plot line and really enjoyed the way the author brought all of the threads together. It was more of a magic realism book than I expected--mystical, I suppose, but not in an "angels and sunbeams" way. Well done use of multiple viewpoint characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynn | 8/29/2012

    " Too wordy, too slow. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy | 6/7/2012

    " This was a hard read. I almost quit reading after the first third. I am glad I stuck it out until the end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 12/7/2011

    " This is getting raves all over the place, but I found it really uneven--parts were amazing, other parts were meh. Overall, worth the read, but glad I got it from the library. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kris | 11/9/2011

    " I enjoyed this one, though I could have done without the sections written by the disabled kid (I generally don't like when authors write as someone who doesn't speak). "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cathy | 5/3/2011

    " It took some time getting "into" this book. The only reason why I finished it was because it was our book club selection. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rosemary | 4/21/2011

    " As the layers of the story unfolds it all comes together in the end. A story of family and love. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lyn | 4/20/2011

    " Lovely prose with distinctive narrative voices told from multiple points of view. Time shuffling happens here. This took me quite a few occasions to actually finish the book - at least a week. My only quibble with this ebook edition was that it was poorly formatted on my Nook screen. *sigh* "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda F | 4/12/2011

    " I am going to be re-reading this book at some point--the quote on the back cover says it all "luminous and haunting and singular". "

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

    " I really liked this book. This would be an excellant choice for a book club as there are many interesting things going on in this novel "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jill | 3/30/2011

    " Poetic novel that alternates between the last hours of Robert Leavitt (pinned down in a tunnel in S. Korea in 1950)and the story of his disabled son, Termite (9yrs. old) living with his half-sister, Lark, and their Aunt Nonie in West Va. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 3/29/2011

    " This is a well-written, and richly imaged book. I just didn't particularly care for the story. Which makes me feel unsettled, as if I'm somehow being unfair to it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angela | 2/21/2011

    " This story was written differently. Each character used first person, but it made it a little hard to understand what was going on. Sensory perceptions took precedence over rational thoughts. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sandra | 2/19/2011

    " It's simply a beautifully written book. The story is multi-layered with several narrators. However, it is not hard to follow. Life is not explainable and Phillips uses the mystical to illustrate this truth. BTW, there is a trade paperback copy at the Friends of the Library Used Bookstore in Sylva. "

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About the Author
Author Jayne Anne Phillips

Jayne Anne Phillips is the author of three previous novels and two collections of widely anthologized stories. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Bunting Fellowship, a Howard Foundation Fellowship, and an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is currently professor of English and director of the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey.

About the Narrators

James Yaegashi has appeared in numerous Broadway and off-Broadway productions, film, and television roles. He was also a popular radio disc jockey in Japan. His voice-over credits include a featured role in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Cynthia Darlow’s unusual voice makes her devotion to the spoken arts a natural fit. As a narrator and veteran of Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theater, film, and television, her characterizations and facility with dialects are unforgettable. Her audiobook narrations have earned her seven AudioFile Earphones Awards. She is a member of The Actors Company Theatre (TACT), whose mission it is to present concert performances of long-neglected, language-driven plays.

Kate Forbes is a professionally trained actress who has appeared on Broadway, in regional theaters, and with a renowned touring company. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, where she was active in theater, she completed an MFA at New York University School of the Arts. With this training, she launched into a successful acting career.