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Extended Audio Sample On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon, by Kaye Gibbons Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,495 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kaye Gibbons Narrator: Polly Holliday Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Like America in the mid-nineteenth century, Emma Garnet Tate is a woman at war with herself. Born to privilege on a James River plantation, she grows up increasingly aware that her family's prosperity is inextricably linked to the institution of slavery.

As she tells her story in 1900, she is still prey to her childhood, to the memories of a life that was made bearable in the main by the indomitable family servant Clarice. She secedes from the control of her overbearing father to marry Quincy Lowell, a member of the distinguished Boston family. Living in Raleigh on the eve of the Civil War, Emma Garnet and Quincy, with Clarice's constant help, create the ideal happy home.

When war destroys the rhythm of their days, Emma Garnet works alongside Quincy, an accomplished surgeon. As she assists him in the treatment of wounded soldiers, she comes to see the war as a "conflict perpetrated by rich men and fought by poor boys against hungry women and babies." After Appomattox, Emma Garnet sets out to take the exhausted Quincy home to Boston, where she begins the journey of her own reconstruction.

As in her five previous novels, Kaye Gibbons demonstrates her subtle mastery of detail and her unmistakable voice. Told in graceful cadences, On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon is a shimmering meditation on the divisions of the human heart.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A master storyteller…Margaret Mitchell’s blunderbuss epic…can’t hold a sweet-potato candle to these vivid pages.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “An occasion for even more accolades.”

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • “Haunting…a rare jewel...Kaye Gibbons has gone from being a wonderful, cascinating novelist to a national treasure.”

    San Antonio Express-News

  • “Gibbons writes with confidence and imagination about personalities and a time which she has made her own.”

    Times Literary Supplement (London)

  • “Gibbons has wrought a balanced and highly accessible novel...well constructed and provocative.”

    Times (London)

  • “Rich prose and period detail…[enhanced by] Holliday’s cadenced reading.”

    Library Journal

  • “YAs will find Emma Garnet, Maureen, Clarice, and Quincy to be fascinating and endearing characters whose flaws as well as strengths are revealed as the story unfolds. The author's picture of life in the Civil War South is vivid and unsentimental, and her characters are drawn with clarity and sympathy.”

    School Library Journal

  • A 1998 New York Times Notable Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Fishfam | 2/17/2014

    " I cried when I read this book. And not because the story was amazing - which it was, but because I will never be able to write like Kaye Gibbons. Her use of language is amazing. Perhaps I'm not as widely read as others, but the way Gibbons puts words together send chills down my spine. I love an author who can convey a thought or an idea in the fewest words possible, but still manage to take my breath away with the beauty of a perfectly crafted sentence or phrase. I won't say anything about the plot or the characters, you really must read this book for yourself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Lori | 2/16/2014

    " This is one of my favorite authors telling a story set during the Civil War. It is NOT an idealistic setting or view of the era. An excellent read. "

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

    " An interesting read... a first hand look at a wealthy southern family before and during the Civil War. Although this was a work of fiction the prose and descriptions of events are vivid and believable. Worth a second read... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Tammi | 2/12/2014

    " This is a great book. Kaye Gibbons' ability to infuse fact and fiction has gripped my attention. A great look into the complexities of relationships during one of the United States' dark past encompassing the slave era and the civil war. "

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