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Download The Descendants Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Descendants, by Kaui Hart Hemmings Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (8,019 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings Narrator: Jonathan Davi Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Kaui Hart Hemmings' first novel, The Descendants, was made into a movie of the same name, which won an Oscar in 2012. A touching family drama with humorous overtones, The Descendants is the story of Matt King, an attorney whose family owns a large amount of valuable property in Hawaii. Although Matt has been scrupulous about managing his own investments, his extended family has squandered their inheritance and decided to sell what's left. Before the deal can go through, Matt's wife Elizabeth has an accident which leaves her in a vegetative state. This serves as a wake-up call for Matt who has been an absent husband and father most of his life.

Matt's two daughters, Alex and Scottie, are having problems of their own, with Alex in drug rehab and Scottie acting out in an effort to get attention. Matt also discovers that while he's been busy with work, his wife has been having an affair with a man she may actually be in love with. Elizabeth needs to be taken off life support and Brian, her lover, needs to be told about her situation. Clueless as ever, Matt decides to takes his two daughters along to meet Brian and tell him what happened to Elizabeth.

Dealing with his children and learning to gain their trust once again is what drives Matt towards change and the realization that life is too short to be spent away from those you love. Hemmings does a great job mixing the elements of humor and drama; even though her tone is airy, she manages to delve into difficult issues. Just when she's fooled you into thinking you're reading a comedy, she brings you to the realization that you have actually been on an emotional roller coaster.

Kaui Hart Hemmings is a native of Hawaii and grew up in the luxe neighborhood where she sets her book. She can trace her ancestry back to a native Hawaiian who married a Protestant missionary who came to the islands from Boston in 1836. She went to Colorado College and Sarah Lawrence College and now lives in Hawaii with her husband and six-year-old. All three of them had bit parts in the movie version of her book which went on to receive the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Now a major motion picture starring George Clooney! Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors who came to the islands were financially and culturally progressive—one even married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and one of the state’s largest landowners. But now his luck has changed. His two daughters are out of control—10-year-old Scottie has a smart-ass attitude and a desperate need for attention and 17-year-old Alex, a former model, is a recovering drug addict. His thrill-seeking and high-maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat racing accident, and will soon be taken off life support. The King family can hardly picture life without their charismatic mother, but as they come to terms with this tragedy, their sadness is mixed with a sense of freedom that shames them—and spurs them into surprising actions. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Audaciously comic…Hemmings channels the voice of her befuddled middle-aged hero with virtuosity, as he teeters between acerbic and sentimental, scoffing at himself even as he grasps for redemption.”

    New Yorker

  • “Hemmings is a determinedly unsentimental writer, and she manages her hazardous subject matter—all of it ripe for strenuous melodrama—in a dry, understated way, subverting her characters without reducing them utterly…Her comic sense is finely honed in this refreshingly wry debut novel.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Gripping and funny…A brave and intelligent novel.”

    Sunday Telegraph (London)

  • “With beautiful and blunt prose, Hemmings explores the emotional terrain of grief, promising something far more fulfilling than paradise at its end.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Manages to be shockingly irreverent and funny while exerting that all-important emotional tug…The Kings prove to be a richly complicated as their Mexican housekeeper’s cooking…A well-plotted, unexpectedly twisting saga which…manages to avoid mawkishness and schmaltz.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “[A] sharply observed, frequently hilarious, and intermittently heartbreaking look at at well-meaning but confused father trying to hold together his unconventional family.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Evincing a sublimely mature style and beguiling command of theme and setting, Hemmings’ virtuoso performance offers a piquantly tender and winsome comic portrait of a singular family’s revealing response to tragedy.”


  • “Hemmings pulls off a remarkable feat in making the Kings’ sense of loss all the more wrenching for being directed at a woman who was neither a good wife nor a good mother.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Michelle | 2/11/2014

    " I went against the rules and saw the movie first and then decided to read the book. If you have the option, read the book first, books are always better. This book is poignant, and describes a set of circumstances that while random, could really happen to anyone. The story of a man trying to piece together his crumbling marriage in the wake of his wife's tragic accident and ensuing brain trauma, while trying to connect with an angry teenage daughter and a budding adolescent daughter is captivating in its honesty, engaging detail, and funny dialogue punctuated throughout. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Gillieporter | 2/5/2014

    " The stars say it all - ok. Nothing world shattering though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Reid R | 1/10/2014

    " I try not to read a book after seeing the movie, but I'm glad I did... this book was good and I love the details that the movie wasn't able to go into. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jamie | 1/9/2014

    " I fell in love with all the King family. Really good book. I can't wait to watch the movie so I can say how much better the book was. "

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