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Extended Audio Sample The Handmaid and the Carpenter: A Novel Audiobook, by Elizabeth Berg Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,304 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Elizabeth Berg Narrator: Elizabeth Berg Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2006 ISBN: 9780739334119
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This wonderful novel transports us to Nazareth in biblical times, where we meet Mary and Joseph–and understand them as never before: young, in love, and suddenly faced with an unexpected pregnancy. Aided by a great and abiding love, they endure challenges to their relationship as well as threats to their lives as they come to terms with the mysterious circumstances surrounding the birth of their child, Jesus. For Mary, the pregnancy is a divine miracle and a privilege. For Joseph, it is an ongoing test of his faith–in his wife as well as in his God. Exquisitely written and imbued with emotional truth and richness of detail, The Handmaid and the Carpenter explores lives touched profoundly by miracles large and small.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynn Palin | 1/30/2014

    " I have loved all of Elizabeth Berg's books. The characters and story lines are wonderful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cheryl | 1/23/2014

    " Interesting to compare to Two From Galilee. This wasn't as vivid as TFG. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 1/3/2014

    " In standing with Elizabeth Berg being my favorite writer, she stood up to my expectations on this book. I got it for Christmas in 2006 and waited until 2007 to read it, but I thought it started out slow, so I put it aside. Now a few years later, I have converted my religion, but still decided to give the book a shot. It didn't even speak to me as a religious book, because it's not really. It's only the authors take on what she thinks happened -- all the day to day things that you don't get to see in the story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. I just loved it. I read it as an awesome story with a great plot, and was not at all put off by the story that it was representing. This book is a quick read (as are most of Elizabeth Berg's books because you just can't put them down), and I just loved it. There were so many ways she could have gone into more detail and made the book longer, but I think the way it is is just fine. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie Stone | 12/28/2013

    " Easy read and great intimate re-telling of the Christmas story from the parent's perspective. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carlstadt Library | 12/24/2013

    " In this wonderful novel about love and trust, hope and belief, Elizabeth Berg, the bestselling author of We Are All Welcome Here and The Year of Pleasures, transports us to Nazareth in biblical times to reimagine the events of the classic Christmas story. We see Mary young, strong, and inquisitives she first meets Joseph, a serious-minded young carpenter who is steadfastly devoted to the religious traditions of their people. The two become betrothed, but are soon faced with an unexpected pregnancy. Aided by a great and abiding love, they endure challenges to their relationship as well as threats to their lives as they come to terms with the mysterious circumstances surrounding the birth of their child, Jesus. For Mary, the pregnancy is a divine miracle and a privilege. For Joseph, it is an ongoing test not only of his courage but of his faith in his wife as well as in his God. Exquisitely written and imbued with the truthful emotions and richness of detail that have earned Elizabeth Berg a devoted readership, The Handmaid and the Carpenter explores lives touched profoundly by miracles large and small. This powerful and moving novel is destined to become a classic. Berg's sweetly understated dramatization of the Nativity story casts Mary and Joseph as provincial teenagers who try to honor family tradition in spite of challenging circumstances. Alternating between the voices of the holy couple, Berg relates a romance that blossoms at the wedding of relatives between the 16-year-old carpenter from Nazareth and the comely 13-year-old girl originally from Sepphoris. Mary, dreamy and intractable, already entertains notions of miraculous circumstances surrounding her own birth to her barren mother, Anne. Joseph is instantly smitten and engenders the trust of both families for a betrothal, yet Mary holds back, cherishing a sense of greater destiny. Escaping a near rape by a Greek man by the river, Mary then receives the angel's message that she will bear an extraordinary son, despite never having known a man; the sadly unwed Mary must return to Joseph, who repudiates her until he, too, is visited in a dream by an angel directing him on the honorable course. With Herod's decree that everyone return to their hometowns to register for the census, Joseph and the near-term Mary set off on their arduous and momentous journey to Bethlehem. Berg handles the gospel passages with a tender reverence. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peter Mcdonald | 12/16/2013

    " a great retelling of the christmas story and a look into the politics they had to have dealt with back in those times. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beverlee | 12/7/2013

    " My Christmas read by one of my favorite authors. Was ok but I love the story and it was intersting to read her intrepation of the events. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Charlene | 12/2/2013

    " Wanted more - the end came to quick. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne | 11/26/2013

    " very sweet and nicely written but didn't match my view of things. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Julie | 11/25/2013

    " A fictionalization of the Christ birth story, focused on Mary and Joseph... it was ok. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amber | 11/23/2013

    " I thought it was good story of the relationship between Joseph and Mary. Intriguing to think how that first year effected their future. Nicely written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 9/29/2013

    " an occasion to read the story of the nativity through the daily lives of Mary and Joseph "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy | 8/9/2013

    " Very nice story and well written. I always enjoy Elizabeth Berg novels and this one did not disappoint! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nora | 8/7/2013

    " Basically, this book was just okay. Kind of fluffy and weak character development, but a decent fictionalization of Joseph and Mary's life. It's short, so might be a good way to spend a few hours during the holiday season! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen Gunther | 8/2/2013

    " This was a novelization of the story of Mary and Joseph. It gives some insights into the culture of the era and is as faithful the Bible as possible. It's a quick read "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kim | 4/2/2013

    " An unwelcome voyeuristic journey into Joseph and Mary's romance; and Joseph's love, but disbelief of Mary's immaculate conception. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Abbie | 12/13/2012

    " This book has a great description of the night Jesus was born. You feel like you were there. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carters1 | 11/14/2012

    " Perhaps it was me. Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorites, but this one fell short for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janet | 11/3/2012

    " This is the story of Mary and Joseph, their courtship, their marriage. It focuses more on them than on Jesus Christ, but it gives you a glimpse of what it may have been like to raise the Savior. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Beth | 4/29/2012

    " I agree with another reader that third person is not Berg's forte. This is by far her worst book; I only picked it up because she wrote it. Oh well, that can't all be winners. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sonia | 1/14/2012

    " I didn't like Joseph being so full of doubt and Mary being so whiny and discontented. Maybe they were, but I didn't like them portrayed that way. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laurisa | 1/9/2012

    " Lots of potential, but not enough development. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Gia | 12/16/2011

    " I love Elizabeth Berg but I could not get through this one. I tried several times to like it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becci | 12/3/2011

    " an imaginative take on the sotry of Jesus' birth, making the characters seem more human and real. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mandi | 10/27/2011

    " A human perspective on the birth of Jesus. The author takes what's been written in the Bible and elaborates on it to give the reader a better understanding of Mary and Joseph and the world they were living in. It brought their story to life in a way that I hadn't thought of it before. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Marilyn | 10/26/2011

    " At least the book was short. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 8/25/2011

    " Taught me stuff I never learned in Catholic school "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sue | 8/8/2011

    " Elizabeth Berg does a great job imagining the love story between Mary and Joseph in this short but sweet work of historical fiction. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Deborah | 5/17/2011

    " Rather dull fictionalized version of Mary & Joseph's relationship. Elizabeth Berg read this audio book. Did not care for her reading style. Thank goodness it was short. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kathy | 1/25/2011

    " Just like the title says, the book is about the relationship between Mary and Joseph. Though scriptures can be hard to understand and leave a lot to the imagination (or inspiration) I have yet to find a novel that tells the story better than the original. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brownshoebrian | 1/14/2011

    " Read it with your spouse. Its a nice love story that helps to bring the nativity alive. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 1/14/2011

    " Taught me stuff I never learned in Catholic school "

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

    " Great to read during the holidays. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sonia | 1/4/2011

    " I didn't like Joseph being so full of doubt and Mary being so whiny and discontented. Maybe they were, but I didn't like them portrayed that way. "

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

    " An interesting imagining of the story of Jesus’ parents and the reality of their life together. Sweetly told with some historical perspective. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 12/19/2010

    " Easy read and great intimate re-telling of the Christmas story from the parent's perspective. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Corky | 12/8/2010

    " Berg has done an excellent job in this novelization of the oldest story in the world! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lois | 12/1/2010

    " Very quick read; made me think of the Bible story in a different light. Now the story in the Bible doesn't seem so "HOLY!", so "UNBELIEVABLE".... I would recommend this to my friends. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laurisa | 11/28/2010

    " Lots of potential, but not enough development. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Melissa | 11/27/2010

    " I always try and read a good holiday story at Christmas time. This was was just ok. Ms. Berg took a lot of writers liberty with the traditional story. Some parts seemed very hurried and jumbled where others were too long in detail. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carol | 11/21/2010

    " I agree with Sarah about the ending. Interesting topic but not fully developed. "

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About the Author
Author Elizabeth Berg

Elizabeth Berg, the author of three New York Times bestsellers, won the NEBA Award for her body of work and was an ABBY Award finalist for her book Talk before Sleep. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Ladies’ Home Journal, Redbook, and the New York Times. Berg also teaches writing workshops at Radcliffe College.