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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (947 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kaye Gibbons Narrator: Anna Fields, Kate Fleming Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2012 ISBN: 9781442350014
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The bestselling author of Charms for the Easy Life reads "her best novel since Ellen Foster."

Kaye Gibbons' award-winning novels of Southern family life have won rave reviews coast to coast. Now, she tells the "story of family dislocation and crisis in restrained prose of unflinching clarity, with a honing eye for the small domestic details that conjure a time, place and emotional atmosphere." (Publishers Weekly)

To the people of Bend of the River Road, Maggie Barnes is "the Barnes woman with all the problems." To her family, she is the unpredictable wife, elusive mother, and adored daughter-in-law, and to her maid, Pearl, she is the mistress who must be cared for like a child.

Between the suicidal lows and delirious highs, young Hattie Barnes struggles to find a place in her mother's heart. She observes her mother's vain attempts at normalcy, and then watches as she is driven off to the hospital psychiatric ward. Only later will Hattie discover the deep-seated hopes and fears of the woman she loves unconditionally, and her inevitable connection to her family's past.

In heartfelt and potent prose, through Hattie's hushed voice, Sights Unseen tells the story of a troubled relationship and the courage it takes to see it through. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Ms. Gibbons has natural gift for telling stories.”

    New York Times

  • “There is something enduring, genuine, and original in Kaye Gibbons’ work.”

    Washington Post

  • “Some people might give up their second born to write as well as Kaye Gibbons.”

    Time

  • “Seamless and resonant…the sort of fiction that wins hearts as well as awards…This is a novel that deserves unwavering attention from start to finish, like a symphony or a sunset.”

    Booklist

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathleen Lynch | 2/17/2014

    " It was a very good book but it made me sad because the author has bipolar and this book was written about 10 years before her deep troubles. The manic episodes were spot on. Life can be so difficult and people suffer in serious ways. It was nice that there was closure in the novel between the family members. I hope life for Kaye Gibbons is getting better, not for her writing but, just for the pleasure of day to day living. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 2/12/2014

    " Here's one where I really wanted a rating halfway between "really liked it" and "it was amazing." Kaye Gibbons never lets me down. I have a manic depressive niece, single mom of three, and this one really hit close to home. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 2/12/2014

    " Another tough read about mentally ill parents. The relationship to the maid mom surrogate is not as clear as in The Help by Stockett. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leslie Angel | 2/11/2014

    " Reads like a memoir. Woman remembers her childhood with manic-depressive mother. Fortunately it is short, because it is painful and very real, going by my experience. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Vicki | 2/9/2014

    " I like Kaye Gibbons, but I did not like this book. It was about "Maggie Barnes" , wife and mother who is mentally ill. Hattie is her daughter and she is crying out for a normal mother. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mimi | 2/6/2014

    " Meh, I understand the need to write the book, but pretty depressing. More like a guide to living with a manic-depressive. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christy | 1/16/2014

    " Ok, so I really love this author. She writes really excellent characters in stories that are both interesting and original. I really liked this book. It was a quick read and I was drawn into the story and really felt like I was reading a memoir instead of a novel. My only issue with the book was that I felt that it was unrealistic that the main character came through life with a bi-polar mother pretty much unscathed. I thought she did an excellent job describing what living with a bi-polar family memeber would be like and I feel like I learned a lot about it. I would definitely recommend the book and the author. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth Shields-Szostak | 1/15/2014

    " 1st edition, signed & inscribed by author "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diana S | 12/29/2013

    " I have found a new favorite Author! Thanks Tessa! :D "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura Lee | 12/23/2013

    " Hard read, very sad. Young girl with a mentally ill mother. Well written, good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meg | 12/21/2013

    " Really enjoyed this. Super fast and fulfilling read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 12/17/2013

    " After this book I have decided that Kaye Gibbons is indeed a favorite author of mine. Her writing grabs me and holds me thoroughly until the book is complete. Wish she was currently writing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sally | 12/10/2013

    " I have enjoyed every Kaye Gibbons book I have read "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mikaela | 12/8/2013

    " A story about a young girl dealing with her manic-depressive mother. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marilynn | 11/24/2013

    " Interestingly depressing story of a wife and mother in the South who is mentally ill as seen through the eyes of her daughter and her memories of being a child. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sue | 11/17/2013

    " Kaye Gibbons portrays a family caught in the web of mental illness --in this case the mother suffers from bipolar disorder--with grace and poignancy. She is a truly gifted writer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lucy | 11/5/2013

    " Love this author, all her stuff. This a fiction account of a manic depressive mother. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steph | 11/2/2013

    " A family, but mostly a daughter, trying to live with the mystery of the mother's bi-polar disease. Arresting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heatherannwurtz | 8/24/2013

    " Compelling book about a girl growing up with a mother with untreated manic depression. I couldn't stop reading it but I also kept waiting for the story to start. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jane | 5/23/2013

    " This reads like a memoir, but it's fiction. Very well written, very engaging, and now a few weeks later I can't remember much about it except a few great images. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa | 4/9/2013

    " My favorite Kaye Gibbons book...very poignant and sweet and sad all in one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meg | 1/13/2013

    " This is the fourth Kaye Gibbons book that I have read and she never disappoints. Gibbons often writes about inter-generational Southern families and they always have insight and heart. This story, concerning a young girl's childhood growing up with a manic-depressive mother, is no exception. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sara-ellen | 12/31/2012

    " My favorite Kay Gibbons book. The struggle with manic depression was riveting and I thought so much about what my family must have suffered through with me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pam Oconnor | 12/17/2012

    " An engaging book about young Hattie and her 12 year wait for her mother to come to her senses. The effects of bipolar disorder on the entire family are the real story. But I love the way Kaye Gibbons writes and I have enjoyed almost all of her books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 11/5/2012

    " Excellent look at the affect of bipolar disorder on a family. Well written, with memorable characters and wit "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 9/30/2012

    " Mental illness (bipolar)from the inside out. A child of the mother who is yanked from one mental extreme to another narrates. The author struck a fine balance with a delicate use of (with frequently indelicate) words and emotion and accomplished an insightful communication with the reader. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dana | 9/23/2012

    " Not her best, but who cares, I really really liked it. It's about a mother's battle manic depression. I will say it again.......read anything by Kaye Gibbons. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jules | 9/1/2012

    " Not the fluffiest of plane reading, but an absorbing, intimate look at a mother's mental illness and the emotional and practical impact it had on her children. Felt more like reading a memoir than a novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 8/31/2012

    " I read the original edition; the later edition had more added to the story. humorous and touching story of a family in which the mother is manic depressive and in and out of institutions. told through the eyes of the 12 yr old daugther. set in North Carolina in the 50s and 60s. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ruth | 7/19/2012

    " Manic depressive mother. Oh dear. Story told from daughter's point of view. Sad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rilla | 7/11/2012

    " I think I might be re-reading this one (memory? what's that?). I am stunned by it this time around. "

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About the Author

Kaye Gibbons was born in Nash County, North Carolina, and attended North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her 1987 debut, Ellen Foster, received the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, a special citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation, and the Louis D. Rubin, Jr. Prize in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Two of her books, Ellen Foster and A Virtuous Woman, were selected for Oprah’s Book Club in 1998. She is currently a writer-in-residence at the library of North Carolina State University and lives in Raleigh with her husband and three daughters. 

About the Narrator

Kate Fleming (a.k.a. Anna Fields) (1965–2006), winner of more than a dozen Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award in 2004, was one of the most respected narrators in the industry. Trained at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, she was also a director, producer, and technician at her own studio, Cedar House Audio.