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Extended Audio Sample Letters from an Unknown Woman: A Novel, by Gerard Woodward Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (143 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gerard Woodward Narrator: Davina Porter Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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With her children evacuated and her husband at the front, Tory Pace is grudgingly sharing the family home with her irascible mother, working at the local gelatin factory—to help the war effort, and generally doing just about as well as could be expected in difficult times. Her quiet life is thrown into turmoil, however, when her prisoner-of-war husband, Donald, makes an outrageous demand for sexual gratification. He wants a dirty letter! Horrified, at first, that Donald is being turned into some sort of monster by the Nazis, Tory’s disgust gradually gives way to a sense of marital duty, and taking in the libraries, bookshops, public conveniences, and barbers’ shops of South-East London, she begins a quest to master the language of carnal desire—a quest that takes a sudden and unexpected turn into far more dangerous territory. 

Beginning with an act of unintentional cannibalism, and flirting with a scheme to end world hunger by the use of protein pills, Letters from an Unknown Woman ranges widely across the continent and yet always returns home: to family, to people, to relationships. Woodward offers a prescient examination of the ways in which we both nurture and consume each other in the face of adversity.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A sharp corrective to the stately-homes lens through which Americans often view the historical Brits…a setting quite dreary and sick-making, yet pierced with brutal shafts of beauty, humor and heartbreak.”

    The New York Times

  • “A comic sensibility closer to Alan Bennett or Tom Sharpe. Woodward’s rueful amusement isn’t frivolity, it’s a world view.”

    Financial Times

  • “Woodward’s brilliant exploration of ordinary lives caught in extraordinary circumstances showcases an imaginative wit, pointed insight, and a flare for the unexpected.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Readers who enjoy the unexpected and stories with a skewed comic sensibility should seek out this novel.”

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Erika | 1/11/2014

    " Strange one this, I didn't really dislike it but it was ok. It read a bit like a saga and had some funny bits in but cannot really say that I would be rushing to read any more by this author. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Valerie | 1/1/2014

    " Liked beginning, but it took a turn for the dark side midway through and I lost interest. Did not finish it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bonnie | 12/27/2013

    " Great book! Left me suprised, shocked, and predicting what would happen next. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Robyn | 12/25/2013

    " Interesting read. The ending is not quite as I would have expected, quite subtle. But a nice little story "

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About the Author

Gerard Woodward is the author of a number of novels, including Nourishment and an acclaimed trilogy comprising August (shortlisted for the 2001 Whitbread First Novel Award), I’ll Go to Bed at Noon (shortlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize), and A Curious Earth. He was born in London in 1961 and published several prizewinning collections of poetry before turning to fiction. His collection of poetry We Were Pedestrians was shortlisted for the 2005 T. S. Eliot Prize. He is professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University.