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Extended Audio Sample Magnificence, by Lydia Millet Click for printable size audiobook cover
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This stunning novel introduces Susan Lindley, a woman adrift after her husband’s death. Suddenly gifted her great uncle’s Pasadena mansion, Susan decides to restore his extensive collection of preserved animals, tending to “the fur and feathers, the beaks, the bones and shimmering tails.” Meanwhile, a menagerie of uniquely damaged humans—including a cheating husband and a chorus of eccentric elderly women—joins her in residence. Funny and heartbreaking, Magnificence is the story of a woman emerging from the sudden dissolution of her family.

Millet’s trademark themes (including evolution and extinction, children and parenthood, loss and wonder) produce a rapturous final act to the critically acclaimed cycle of novels that began with How the Dead Dream.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Warm, moving, funny, earnest, hopeful, honest, and engaged in a way at odds with current literary fashion…Millet’s lush prose has you in her thrall from the start.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Lydia Millet’s Magnificence is a novel of ideas. I mean that as a high compliment, for the ideas Millet invokes are the only ones that matter: life, death, love, longing, extinction, the ongoing existential quandary of what we are doing here…An ambitious book, not so much for the sweep of its action, which is essentially domestic, but for its deep and nuanced investigation of inner life.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Millet provokes deep thinking without being overbearing…She’s truly an original.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “[Magnificence is] elegant, darkly comic…full of contemporary wit and devilish fateful turns for her characters…a kind of allegorical elegy for life on a dying planet. Ours, that is.”

    The Guardian (London)

  • “Millet’s writing is as lush as the house Susan lives in. There’s a marvelous musicality to her prose; she’s a writer who tackles human emotions with scientific precision and an artist’s voice.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “There’s much to explore in Magnificence, which is ambitious, often funny and deliciously provocative. One needn’t have read the entire series to be consumed by its pleasures, but by the time you reach its beautiful end, considerable comfort lies in the existence of two more novels in which to delight in Millet’s writing and imagination.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Millet’s prose, which is both sensitive and strange...creates a thick atmosphere that immediately pulls the reader deep into this saga of love, death, sex, and taxidermy.”


  • “Millet brings her searching, bitterly funny, ecologically attuned trilogy of Los Angeles–based novels to a haunting crescendo. ...Millet is extraordinarily agile and powerful here, moving from light to shadow like a stalking lioness.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Millet is simply an incredible writer. Her prose displays the exceedingly rare combination of philosophical introspection with poetic grace and flourish.”

    Daily Beast

  • “A novel of ideas or philosophy, disguised as a portrait of one woman’s midlife upheaval.”


  • Selected for the November 2012 Indie Next List
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title”, November 2012
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2012 Barnes & Noble Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Publishers Weekly Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Fiction
  • A 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist for Fiction
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About the Author
Author Lydia Millet

Lydia Millet is the author of the New York Times Notable Book Ghost Lights and eight other works of fiction. Her short story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She lives with her children outside Tucson, Arizona.