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Extended Audio Sample Parrot and Olivier in America Audiobook, by Peter Carey Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,746 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Peter Carey Narrator: Humphrey Bower Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9781455197033
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Olivier (a fictional variation of Alexis de Tocqueville) is the traumatized child of aristocratic survivors of the French Revolution. Parrot is the motherless son of an itinerant English printer. Born on different sides of history, their lives will be joined by an enigmatic one-armed marquis. When Olivier sets sail for the nascent United States—ostensibly to make a study of the penal system, but more precisely to save his neck from one more revolution—Parrot will be there, too, as spy for the marquis and as protector, foe, and foil for Olivier.

As the narrative shifts between Parrot and Olivier—their adventures in love and politics, prisons and finance, homelands and brave new lands—a most unlikely friendship begins to take hold. And with their story, Peter Carey explores the adventure of American democracy with dazzling inventiveness.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “I finished it with unabated enjoyment…The language is vivid, forceful and poetic…There are terrific set pieces…moments Dickensian in their vividness…It’s a dazzling, entertaining novel.”

    Ursula Le Guin, the Guardian

  • Parrot and Olivier in America grabs its subject and marches down Main Street playing full out, provoking a reader’s delighted applause…Sentence for sentence, Carey’s writing remains matchlessly robust.”

    New York Times

  • “Gorgeously entertaining and moving…This is a novel of fierce attachments, charting the proximity of beauty and terror in the human soul.”

    O, the Oprah Magazine

  • Parrot and Olivier in America is a delicious, sprockety contraption, a comic historical picaresque…Like several of Carey’s previous novels, such as Oscar and Lucinda and Jack Maggs, his book has an eighteenth-century robustness, a nineteenth-century lexicon, and a modern liberality…There are few contemporary writers with such a sure sense of narrative pungency and immediacy.”

    New Yorker

  • “Carey braids his story carefully, lovingly…At its heart, Parrot and Olivier in America is a western; the simplest story in history, scuplted down to a twinkle in a philosopher’s eye: Man’s search for freedom.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • Parrot and Olivier has all the quirky qualities that we have come to expect from Peter Carey: a winding narrative, a mass of vivid historical detail, and some very lively writing…The leading characters are beautifully drawn…[Offers] a gripping portrait of Jacksonian America in all its wild variety, from its model farms to its grungy boarding-houses, from its Fourth of July parades to its filthy streets full of copulating pigs.”

    Economist 

  • Parrot and Olivier in America is such a literary work, even fuller than its predecessors of allusion, contrast and comic contradiction, that there is always more to find: the more you bring to it, the more rewarding its insinuations, its unpredictable switches between satire, serious reflection, and plain fun. Like Oscar and Lucinda (not to mention Carey’s other works), it demands and repays repeated reading.”

    Times Literary Supplement (London)

  • “Carey’s wonderfully witty and visual prose…springs surprise after surprise on the reader…his version of 1830s America allows him to comment on its modern counterpart: he touches lightly on, among many other things, sub-prime mortgages, an inflated art market and demagogic politicians.”

    Independent (UK)

  • “An energetically intelligent novel…It bristles like a hedgehog with all of Carey’s spiky ideas…There’s enough to snag your imagination on, and to spare.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Carey’s novel is smart, charming and original…[He] finds comedy in unexpected places…Scenes of [Parrot and Olivier] with their respective love interests are realistic and poignant, and Carey…writes about America with a deeply felt but unsentimental sense of affection.”

    NPR.org

  • “Carey’s fictionalization of Alexis de Tocqueville’s trip to America that inspired Tocqueville’s study Democracy in America makes for lively listening…Humphrey Bower dexterously juggles American, British, and French accents and keeps each characters distinct and multidimensional. He glides Parrot and Olivier’s wild mood and opinion swings and makes romantic passages light and moving.”

    Publishers Weekly (audio review)

  • “Narrator Humphrey Bower perfectly juggles a variety of complex characters and accents in Carey’s historical novel. Olivier-Jean-Baptist de Clarel de Barfleur, a fictionalized version of Alexis de Tocqueville, is sent to America after his involvement in events surrounding Napoleon’s return and the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X. Humphrey Bower inhabits Olivier’s friend, the lovable Parrot, a.k.a. John Larrit, an ex-con who becomes Olivier’s servant and a spy for Olivier’s mother. Bower shows extraordinary vocal flexibility, pacing, and sensitivity as the relationship between Olivier and Parrot deepens against the remarkable tableau of undeveloped America and the rough-hewn people who created the greatest nation on earth.”

    AudioFile

  • “Featuring well-developed and multifaceted characters…this book is rife with humorous details and turns of phrase, and the language is sophisticated…Written by a two-time Booker Prize winner, this engaging book will be particularly appreciated by readers interested in early nineteenth-century American history, the French aristocracy, and emerging democracy.”

    Library Journal

  • “Featuring a deliciously twisty plot and a pair of unforgettable leading characters, Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America is a rip-roaring work of historical fiction…This complex and comedic work has earned Carey much well-deserved acclaim.”

    BookPage, Book of the Day, January 2010, and Top Pick for Book Clubs

  • An AudioFile Editors’ Pick
  • On Oprah’s Summer Reading List for 2010
  • One of 2010 New York Magazine Top 10 Books
  • A 2010 Publishers Weekly Best Book for Fiction
  • One of 2010 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Fiction
  • A BookPage Book of the Day, January 2011
  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Fiction
  • Selected for the May 2010 Indie Next List
  • A 2010 Man Booker Prize Finalist
  • A 2010 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 2/19/2014

    " i liked it fine until the cheesy love part towards the end of the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janice Hussock | 2/13/2014

    " Excellent. Individual stories shed light on Federalist America. Not riveting but well written. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Connie | 1/28/2014

    " I thought I would like this one (historical and all) but I just could not get into this book. This almost never happens, BUT I didn't finish. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Charles Wolfe | 1/14/2014

    " well plotted historical fiction...well written and researched "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda Nemec | 1/14/2014

    " Wonderful. Excellent perspective of how a French nobleman might view post-revolution America versus an English orphan. Wish the book hadn't ended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lc16 | 1/13/2014

    " I loved Carey's writing but found that I most enjoyed the book before Parrot and Olivier got to America. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ticklish Owl | 12/23/2013

    " If you liked this book, you might also enjoy Gould's Book of Fish. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carolyn Phelps | 12/11/2013

    " A fun look at early democracy in America from the perspective of a French aristocrat and English commoner, this is also a great study of self-deception and how our background shapes how we view the world. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 10/26/2013

    " Here's one of my pet peeves as a reader: I don't like it when I encounter a phrase in another language and have no real idea what I've missed. Once I read a book that contained an entire page in Latin - but, well, I guess that was probably a printing accident. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary | 3/23/2013

    " I can't fairly review this because I gave up. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeannie | 9/28/2012

    " Really loved this book, I studied it in my english class and enjoyed Carey's writing a lot. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annegertrude | 9/19/2012

    " Interesting period piece - set in post French Revolution time. Tells the story of American democracy thru the eyes of a french aristocrat.. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Catherine | 5/16/2012

    " Whilst I can appreciate this is a well written book and historically interesting, I did find it heavy going at times and there were parts I simply didn't understand! Too clever for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Briana | 2/24/2012

    " This book was a bit slow at times, but I liked the characters and it was amusing in an intellectual kind of way. I have only read two other books by Peter Carey, but I liked both of them better than this one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anita | 12/6/2011

    " tough going at the beginning but I am glad I stuck with it, because I did end up enjoying it and now I want to find out a bit more about deTocqueville. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anna | 10/13/2011

    " Struggled through it. Not my favorite. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mae | 9/4/2011

    " Awesome! This book reads like a love poem to the American Colonies, and the author clearly researched it carefully. It's hilarious and touching in unexpected ways. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doruk | 7/15/2011

    " Really engrossing book - basically, at the start of every chapter I was like, hey keep going with the previous chapter and then next thing you know I was hooked again. Rewarding author. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary | 5/21/2011

    " I had difficulty staying with this book. The writing style was very dense with lots of detail and lavish description of place and action, but it was easy to get lost in all the words. I didn't have the historical background to understand many of the references. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patricia | 5/21/2011

    " Entertaining and well-written with plenty of twists as the the protagonists cross and recross the Atlantic, with the action moving between America, France and England. However, reading this book was a journey I was only to happy to end. "

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

    " This was a selection for a book club at the Kimbell Art Museum. It took me a while to get involved with the story, but once I did I was hooked. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie | 5/15/2011

    " A bit of a slog. So good at times and at times, just too, too many words that truly, don't say that much.

    I didn't really care for any of the characters, although that guy in the bathroomless attic was quite a creepy hoot. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steve | 5/8/2011

    " Hard book to read! It seems to progress in fits and starts. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mae | 5/5/2011

    " Awesome! This book reads like a love poem to the American Colonies, and the author clearly researched it carefully. It's hilarious and touching in unexpected ways. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Lou | 5/4/2011

    " Read this for book club and did not expect to like it, but found it to be much more interesting than I expected. The second story (that of Parrot) is fascinating. Enjoyed the look into America at the time of the revolution and the juxtaposition with the French revolution. "

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

    " Sort of like Dancing to the Precipice and Democracy in America "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gerald | 4/22/2011

    " What might have been an engrossing read lost me when I lost patience with a seven-year-old narrator who had the thought process of a forty-year old rake. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne | 4/19/2011

    " Some of the funniest lines in this book were about chairs. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Dana | 4/18/2011

    " Overwritten, and so very difficult to get at the characters, or the story. "

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About the Author
Author Peter Carey

Peter Carey is the author of ten previous novels and has twice received the Booker Prize. His other honors include the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Born in Australia, he has lived in New York City for twenty years.

About the Narrator

Humphrey Bower earned his BA in English literature from Oxford University. He has worked extensively in theater, television, and audiobook narration, for which he won the prestigious Audie® Award in 2002.