Once We Were Sisters: A Memoir Audiobook, by Sheila Kohler Play Audiobook Sample

Download Once We Were Sisters: A Memoir Audiobook

Once We Were Sisters: A Memoir Audiobook, by Sheila Kohler Play Audiobook Sample
FlexPass™ Price: $12.95
$7.95 for new members!(Includes UNLIMITED podcast listening) Add to Cart learn more
Regular Price: $16.95 Add to Cart
Author: Sheila Kohler Narrator: Sheila Kohler Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Audio Length: Release Date: January 2017 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9781504743662

Publisher Description

A beautiful, heartrending literary memoir about the tragic death of the author’s beloved older sister and a tribute to their bond.

When Sheila Kohler was thirty-seven, she received the heart-stopping news that her sister Maxine, only two years older, was killed when her husband drove them off a deserted road in Johannesburg. Stunned by the news, she immediately flew back to the country where she was born, determined to find answers and forced to reckon with his history of violence and the lingering effects of their most unusual childhood—one marked by death and the misguided love of their mother.

In her signature spare and incisive prose, Sheila Kohler recounts the lives she and her sister led. Flashing back to their story-book childhood at the family estate, Crossways, Kohler tells of the death of her father when she and Maxine were girls, which led to the family abandoning their house and the girls being raised by their mother, at turns distant and suffocating. We follow them to the cloistered Anglican boarding school where they first learn of separation and later their studies in Rome and Paris where they plan grand lives for themselves—lives that are interrupted when both marry young and discover they have made poor choices. Kohler evokes the bond between sisters and shows how that bond changes but never breaks, even after death.

Download and start listening now!


  • “Beautiful and disturbing….Highly recommended.”

    - Joyce Carol Oates, National Book Award–winning author
  • “Rich and poignant.”

    - J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize–winning author
  • “An exquisite and devastating book.”

    - Tracy K. Smith, Pulitzer Prize–winning author
  • “An intimate illumination of sisterhood and loss.”

    - People
  • “A searing and intimate memoir about love turned deadly…Kohler digs into her past for a searing and intimate memoir about love turned deadly…Her powerful story gives a sharp contrast between a sister’s lasting love and the ways society protects a violent man.”

    - BBC
  • “A memoir of love, sorrow, sisterhood, and privilege. It’s also a memoir of the limitations of such privilege — in particular, the inescapable tragedy of being born female in a patriarchal world.”

    - New York Times Book Review
  • “Intimate, exquisitely written…In spare, delicate prose, Kohler brings a seasoned novelist’s skills to this deeply moving, compelling memoir.”

    - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • “Short enough to read in one sitting but poignant enough to linger in the mind long afterward…Kohler’s spare and lyrical narrative explores the bonds of sisterhood and what might have been done to avert this family tragedy.”

    - BookPage
  • “A tragic yet gorgeous story that will appeal to those interested in the nature of memory, South African history, and fraught family relationships.”

    - Booklist
  • “Brilliantly intelligent, beautifully written, sensually detailed, sexy, exquisitely restrained and shocking.”

    - Phillip Lopate, author of Being with Children
  • “Kohler’s writing is visually potent, viscerally compelling…She conjures a lost world of privilege, violence, and repression that has chilling parallels in contemporary life.”

    - Rebecca Miller, author of The Private Lives of Pippa Lee


  • A People Magazine Best New Books Pick for January 2017
  • A BookPage Top Pick
  • One of the BBC’s Best Books to Read in 2017

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review about this audiobook!

About the Author

Sheila Kohler was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the author of fourteen works of fiction including the novels Dreaming for Freud, Becoming Jane Eyre, and Cracks, which was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and made into a film starring Eva Green. Her work has been featured in the New York Times and O, The Oprah Magazine and included in The Best American Short Stories. She has twice won an O. Henry Award, as well as an Open Fiction Award, a Willa Cather Prize, and a Smart Family Foundation Prize. She teaches at Princeton University.