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Download The American: Previously Published as A Very Private Gentleman Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The American: Previously Published as A Very Private Gentleman Audiobook, by Martin Booth Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.36 out of 53.36 out of 53.36 out of 53.36 out of 53.36 out of 5 3.36 (28 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Martin Booth Narrator: Ralph Cosham Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2010 ISBN: 9781470800444
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The locals in the southern Italian town where he lives call him Signor Farfalla—Mr. Butterfly—for he is a discreet gentleman who paints rare butterflies. His life is inconspicuous—mornings spent brushing at a canvas, afternoons idling in the cafes, and evenings talking with his friend, the town priest, over a glass of brandy.

Yet there are other sides to this gentleman’s life: Clara, the young student who moonlights in the town bordello, and another woman, who arrives with one hundred thousand dollars and a commission—but not for a painting of butterflies.

With this assignment returns the dark fear that has dogged Signor Farfalla’s mysterious life. Almost instantly, he senses a deadly circle closing in on him, one which he may or may not elude.

Part thriller, part character study, part drama of deceit and self-betrayal, The American shows Martin Booth at the very height of his powers.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Booth’s prose exhibits such a nicely clarity that it would be all too easy to devour this beguiling story and to take for granted its artful construction, its sparkle, its vivid conjuring of character and landscape.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  •  “The work of a remarkable writer…A novel of power and fascination.”

    London Evening Standard

  • “A psychological suspense thriller invested with life-and-death gravitas.”

    Seattle Times

  • “With Farfalla, Booth has created a rich, conflicted antihero whose clever rationalizations mask a soul weary with self-doubt…making us question our own moral values, our sense of right and wrong—and where exactly to draw the line.”

    Boston Globe

  • “[A] brilliantly creepy psychological suspense novel…The lazy, languid setting is an eerily effective backdrop for the fresh and beguiling murder intrigue…With first-rate characters and a gradual buildup of suspense, Booth constructs his most focused, tightly written novel to date, reminiscent of William Trevor’s classic Felicia’s Journey and the late Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley novels.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Haunting, shocking, and tense, Booth’s story is a charismatic blend of psychological thriller, vivid drama, searing morality tale, and profound psychological study. His writing is crisp yet lyrical, simple yet intelligent. Readers looking for thought-provoking literary fiction can’t do any better than this.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Beautifully detailed…Exquisite.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “There are echoes of Nabokov in this tense and poetic mystery.”

    Today (UK)

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robert | 2/15/2014

    " A slow paced (until the last few pages) study in alienation from modern society (based on a cynical, yet somewhat compelling view of human kind and our polity or lack thereof), the solitary pleasures of the Italian mountains and mountain towns and the man's capacity to re-connect with others --a priest and a student/prostitute. The writing is compelling. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tom | 2/11/2014

    " VERY DISAPPOINTING. This would have made a good short story. If you take out the actual plot, which could have been done in 20-30 pages, half of the rest read like a not-very-interesting travel brochure written by a bored travel writer forced to tour Italy with in-laws and the other half was filled with bland generalizations on life that pretended to be deep insights but were actaully the immature babblings of drunken college sophomores during a late-night dormroom bull session. Very little action. This is one rare case where you should skip the book and go to the movie. If you want a well-written thriller, read Charles Cumming or Henry Porter. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 1/20/2014

    " This was okay. A bit boring but okay. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael Smith | 1/13/2014

    " This book uses first-person to tell the happenings of everyday life and the past memories of a gunsmith. But, not just any gunsmith. This gunsmith specializes in the tools of assasination. It is an interesting read into the mind of one how takes up this very odd and rare profession. I liked it. Martin Booth spins a good yarn in a way that is both unique and compelling. It definitely keeps you turning pages. Mr. Booth is an author I am going to have to revisit again. p.s. For the movie buffs, this the the book that inspired "The American". "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Samuel Stiles | 1/12/2014

    " A delicious tale of intrigue with a healthy dose of gravitas. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 James Nutter | 1/9/2014

    " A fun slow moving spy novel. I can see how it would make a great movie which usually means a less complex book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Andrea Cayford | 9/5/2013

    " Not nearly as rewarding and well written as The Industry of souls....But then that book would take quite a bit of beating "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rose Neild | 7/7/2013

    " a great read, and it translated well to screen. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 RL | 4/5/2013

    " I'm only a little way into the book at this point, but it is intriguing. Intriguing, but slow to hook. If I didn't have a synopsis of the plot to work from -thereby knowing it picks up the pace -- I would probably not continue. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Boston Book Bums | 4/3/2013

    " Meticulous is the best way to describe this book by Booth "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nicola | 3/4/2013

    " I found the narrator incredibly tedious, and utterly smug. I couldn't bring myself to care about the "mystery" of him. It did make Italy sound lovely, and took me down my own little memory lane journey of my own time there, but it's not really worth reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jordan | 2/23/2013

    " I hadn't ever heard of this book until I saw The American, which is based (quite faithfully it turns out) on this book. The film took it's slow, deliberate pacing from the book. Definitely a slow burn. Not one for the Da Vinci crowd. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrew Campbell | 2/6/2013

    " Well-written, but ultimately slight. Doesn't exactly get me amped up for the movie. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mickey | 1/19/2013

    " The movie The American starring George Clooney is based on this novel. The book and the film are underrated/misunderstood. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deborah | 11/17/2012

    " Much better than the movie "The American" "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ned Frederick | 11/12/2012

    " This book was a pleasant surprise. I had not read anything by Booth and picked it up when I read that the movie, The American was based on the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael | 9/14/2012

    " Better than the movie. Vivid development of characters and descriptions of rural Italy, its towns, villages and people. Part morality tale, part thriller. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dan | 9/12/2012

    " Loving the Italian locations. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beejay | 3/10/2012

    " How can you not pick up a book with the lovely George Clooney on the cover? Let's hope that you can judge a book by its cover. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ron Smith | 3/7/2012

    " Different than the movie. Better in some ways, obviously more detailed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bob | 4/24/2011

    " This book is another example of how the movies can alter what the author orignally wrote. In this case I preferred the novel due to the depth of character portrayed on the written page. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jordan | 4/11/2011

    " I hadn't ever heard of this book until I saw The American, which is based (quite faithfully it turns out) on this book. The film took it's slow, deliberate pacing from the book. Definitely a slow burn. Not one for the Da Vinci crowd. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ned | 4/10/2011

    " This book was a pleasant surprise. I had not read anything by Booth and picked it up when I read that the movie, The American was based on the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Crystal | 3/31/2011

    " This book is slow. Sometimes beautifully slow, sometimes painfully slow. The writing style (first person; a lot of internal reflection by the narrator -- a gunsmith looking back at his career) facilitates an interesting exploration of self-honesty. And there is some action at the end. Briefly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meliko | 3/16/2011

    " The narrator's diction is as precise as the weapons he fashions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lucas | 2/7/2011

    " Very well written, the description of the small Italian villages made me want to get on a place to Italy. The entire novel is like walking a mine field, you'll spend it waiting for Mr. Butterfly's past to catch up to him.

    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott | 1/7/2011

    " An enjoyable read. Booth has eloquent prose with beautifully evocative descriptions of Italy. This is the book on which the movie is based, though there are plenty of differences in the plot. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lindsay | 1/5/2011

    " Slow to start, then gets interesting. But I never fell in love with the book. The character isn't very likable and his philosophy of life is...disturbing. But I liked the author's style of prose. "

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About the Author
Author Martin Booth

Martin Booth (1944–2004) was a critically acclaimed novelist and a documentary and feature-film writer. He wrote thirteen novels including Islands of Silence, Hiroshima Joe, and The Industry of Souls. His most recent nonfiction books include Opium: A History and The Doctor and the Detective: A Biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

About the Narrator

Ralph Cosham (1936–2014), a.k.a. Geoffrey Howard, was a British journalist who changed careers to become a narrator and screen and stage actor. He performed in more than one hundred professional theatrical roles, and several of his narrations were named “Audio Best of the Year” by Publishers Weekly. In 2013 he won the coveted Audie Award for his narration of Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery.