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Extended Audio Sample Mr. Chartwell: A Novel Audiobook, by Rebecca Hunt Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.29 out of 53.29 out of 53.29 out of 53.29 out of 53.29 out of 5 3.29 (24 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Rebecca Hunt Narrator: Susan Duerden Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2011 ISBN: 9780307879943
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July 1964. Chartwell House, Kent: Winston Churchill wakes at dawn. There’s a dark, mute “presence” in the room that focuses on him with rapt concentration.

It’s Mr. Chartwell.

Soon after, in London, Esther Hammerhans, a librarian at the House of Commons, goes to answer the door to her new lodger. Through the glass she sees a vast silhouette the size of a mattress.

It’s Mr. Chartwell.

Charismatic, dangerously seductive, Mr. Chartwell unites the eminent statesman at the end of his career and the vulnerable young woman. But can they withstand Mr. Chartwell’s strange, powerful charms and his stranglehold on their lives? Can they even explain who or what he is and why he has come to visit?

In this utterly original, moving, funny, and exuberant novel, Rebecca Hunt explores how two unlikely lives collide as Mr. Chartwell’s motives are revealed to be far darker and deeper than they at first seem.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A marvelously original, tender and funny debut novel…Rebecca Hunt proves herself to be a gifted writer who has no need of fictional realism to deliver profound truths.”

    Daily Mail

  • “Extraordinary…Owing to Hunt’s robust, intelligent style and the ingenuity and compassion with which she deals with her story.”

    Daily Telegraph

  • “Please, willingly suspend disbelief and allow Hunt’s vivid imagination to take you on this exuberant funhouse ride.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Constance | 2/18/2014

    " The premise of this book was clever, based on Winston Churchill's metaphor for depression as a big black dog, and the character of Mr. Chartwell well-thought-out and humorous. Unfortunately, it didn't quite fit for me with how depression feels, and for that reason it didn't work for me as a full-length novel. I was unable to finish. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessie | 2/3/2014

    " Both charming and unsettling, this novel pits manners against mores, depression against chutzpah, in the persona of Mr. Chartwell, the dreadful and comical guest who "dogs" the steps of his landlady in Churchill's Britain. The author blends metaphor, history and fiction with wit and grace. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 K | 1/13/2014

    " "You are a dark star in the constellation which forms me. And to fight against you is to try and fight the stars in the enternal firmament." so says churchill to black pat, the huge, black dog that exemplifies his depression...and who becomes a temporary lodger of esther, a young widow...a great premise that was fascinating to me but in the end, i was bored. and a little confused. i think hunt does a really good job of personifying depression...i very much identified with black pat/mr. chartwell...and i enjoyed the interplay between him and churchill. i found esther to be a bit underdeveloped. still, worth reading if only for the images...the finely detailed and original rendering of depression. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hannah | 1/5/2014

    " This book is so weird, in the best way possible. The whole idea is crazy, and I didn't think I'd like it that much, to be honest, just because it sounded so out there. But I'm so glad I gave it a try - it totally works! The writing is great, making this weird, impossible stuff somehow seem possible, and making this a very entertaining, surprisingly lighthearted read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Miranda | 12/29/2013

    " The writing is very good and the concept is interesting, but handled in a way that doesn't quite fit. A little too mild, perhaps, without much tension. The absurdity of the giant, invisible dog following Esther around (though I recognize the metaphor) becomes a bit too ridiculous at times for even me to willingly suspend my disbelief. Mr. Chartwell is an interesting analogous essay on an elusive, human experience, but it is not that compelling of a novel. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sandy | 12/18/2013

    " So, what WAS the point of this book??? It was really pretty silly and did virtually nothing to captive me but I hate putting a book down half read and am even less inclined to do it if the book is on CD therefore part of my driving day... The character - Esther was meek and unremarkable... half the point, I imagine, and her friends Beth and Big Oliver utterly annoying - especially Beth. Her new colleague and friend, Mr. Corkbowl, has what must be one of THE most unappealing and awfully drab names in fiction ever! Yes... I do understand that the demon in all this is depression and how insidious and consuming it can become... and I do understand its powerful hold on people and their lives but I do not think it was well portrayed or conveyed... (As a dog owner, I found myself wanting to scratch Mr. Chartwell's tummy or rub him with my bare foot as he lay on the floor by my chair... yes, he was annoying at times but I never felt HE was the bad guy in the story... )... so the story wound up and I was not much the wiser for Esther's future... would she manage to conquer the inner demons of her depression? Or, like Winston, would the end of her story simply be the day she died??? As, I assume but have not checked, was 27 July 1964. Will have to do that. 'Check', that is. In the meantime, I don't think I will be tempted to read anything else this author writes. She's not a very good writer in my view. But, she did get a book written, which is a lot more than can be said for most of us! ... Well, Sir Winston did not die on 27, July 1964 but 24, January, 1965... So, I'm not sure why the book suggested that Winston & Mr. Chartwell's relationship would end on the former date, but that is the impression I got! Anyway, fin! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rebecca | 12/13/2013

    " This is one I need to process a bit. It's odd, so having just completed it, I haven't decided what to think. I wouldn't be surprised if I look back on it in a few weeks and wonder why I didn't choose four stars instead of three. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susie | 12/13/2013

    " This was an odd, unusual book that was quirky enough in places to make me chuckle for its seeming absurdity. The premise is that Winston Churchill's depression, what he called the "black dog," literally IS a huge black dog named Black Pat, who has insinuated himself into the life and home of a young widow, Esther Hammerhans. We do not know all this at first, and how Black Pat is revealed to us and why he is present to Esther and Churchill is subtly and wonderfully developed. The story leads us to Churchill's day of retirement for which he must engage Esther to do some typing for him. The realization for Esther that Churchill is aware of Black Pat in the room with them allows her to gain courage in the "war" against the black dog, as Churchill admonishes her. It is a wonderful book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ashley Hietpas | 10/3/2013

    " It was a solid book, and an interesting portrayal of depression, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessica | 10/1/2013

    " While this wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be, this was an interesting look at how depression afflicts people and affects those around them. A worthwhile read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Laura Collins | 8/28/2013

    " Sadly disappointed with this book, which I had been looking forward to reading for ages. It is more a novella than a novel, and I think would have been far more effective as a short story. A great idea but unnecessarily rambling and in parts inaccessible. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephanie Jewett | 3/24/2013

    " I don't even know how to describe this book, but I liked it. I especially liked Mr. Corkbowl. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Helen Southall | 1/24/2013

    " Not bad - not highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea | 11/1/2012

    " I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Again wishing there were 1/2 stars, but worth at least another 1/2 for originality, hence 4 *. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura | 5/23/2012

    " For a reader who can suspend belief in "what is real" for the course of the novel, this is a great insight into not only Winston Churchill (fictionalized), but of the power of the mind. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amalivia | 10/18/2011

    " The best book I've read in a decade. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelley | 5/19/2011

    " I really enjoyed the characters and how the story unfolds. I am afraid to say too much or it might ruin it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angela | 5/3/2011

    " Not for everyone, but I loved it. Witty, sadly charming, strange, but sweet. Mr. Chartwell is a huge black dog who personifies (literally)...well, read and find out. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 4/27/2011

    " Bizarre. Clever, creative, occasionally poetic. Depicts a compelling and appropriately offputting metaphor of...well, I won't let the cat out of the bag. I did quite adore Churchill. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lkemigh | 4/20/2011

    " Very original idea! gives a good idea of what depression feels like. loved the churchill angle. "

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

    " I'm on the fence about this book. It was well-written and I liked the two storylines and how they blended together. The concept of the book was strange though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 4/19/2011

    " Audio book. Amazing & original presentation of the personification of depression as a huge black talking dog, in reference to Churchill's own depressive side which he apparently referred to as a "black dog". Made me laugh & made me cry "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tori | 4/17/2011

    " A strange, strange book. I don't know quite how to describe it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy | 4/14/2011

    " Fascinating, uniquely imaginative, and oddly entertaining! One of those books that is hard to put down, and will stay with you for quite some time after reading. "

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About the Author
Rebecca Hunt graduated from Central Saint Martins College with a degree in fine art. She lives and works in London. Mr. Chartwell is her first novel.
About the Narrator

Susan Duerden is a critically acclaimed audiobook narrator. Her reading of The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht earned her an AudioFile Best Voice Award and a Booklist Editors’ Choice Award. She has won ten AudioFile Earphones Awards.