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Extended Audio Sample The History of Us, by Leah Stewart Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (649 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Leah Stewart Narrator: Cassandra Campbell Publisher: Dreamscape Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2013 ISBN: 9781611209440
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Eloise Hempel is on her way to teach a class at Harvard when she receives a devastating phone call. Her sister and her husband have been killed in a tragic accident, and Eloise must return home to Cincinnati to take their three children, Theodora, Josh, and Claire, out of the hands of her own incapable mother. She moves back into her mother’s century-old house and, after her mother leaves, pours her own money into its upkeep.

Nearly two decades later, Eloise is still in that house with now-grown Theo, Josh, and Claire, still thinking about the career and life she left behind, even as she pushes the kids to get a move on. With Claire leaving for New York City for a promising ballet career, Eloise has plans to finally sell the house and start a life that’s hers alone. But when her mother creates a competition for which of them gets the house and Claire turns out to have a life-changing secret, their makeshift family begins to fall apart.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Leah Stewart possesses magic. It is awe-inspiring to see how clearly and sensitively she presents the numerous ways her characters are broken and then finds a way to offer some hope of healing. With the family at the heart of The History of Us, Stewart shows that she is unafraid of difficult characters and that she is equally unafraid of making sure they matter to us.”

    Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang

  • “A sprawling novel with some of the off-kilter charm of Anne Tyler’s work, The History of Us glows with affection for its wounded, familiar characters.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Touching drama…Faced with urgent choices, Eloise and the grown kids react with varying degrees of wisdom and pigheadedness, but as Stewart tenderly demonstrates, they remain – for better or worse – a family.”

    People

  • “Stewart’s novel reminds us how family ties trump all else.”

    Parenting Magazine

  • “Domestic fiction fans favoring strong, intelligent characters will be intrigued by Stewart’s introspective examination of a family.”

    Library Journal

  • “With a playwright’s precise, sometimes excoriating dialogue and an insightful novelist’s judicious use of interior monologue, Stewart crafts a tearful yet unsentimental family coming-of-age story.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “A poignant exploration of the meaning of family.”

    Booklist

  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title” in January 2013

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 2/20/2014

    " Not the greatest writing but definitely held my interest. Worth the dollar I paid at used bookstore "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margaret | 2/7/2014

    " If you have lived in Cincinnati (I have not) you may enjoy this book more than I did. I think I would have gotten more from the book if I had a better appreciation for the different characteristics of the parts of the city. Not a bad book, just did not live up to what I think it could have been. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 2/5/2014

    " Couldn't put this book down. Excellent. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristina | 1/27/2014

    " Eloise Hempel gives up her new life as a Professor at Harvard to return to Cincinnati to raise her two nieces and nephew after their parents are killed. Sounds like it would be a good story but it isn't written that way. The characters come across as very flat and I find myself not really caring for any of them. The book picks up a bit for me near the end when the characters actually start to come to life a bit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kerri | 1/21/2014

    " I enjoyed Leah Stewart's previous novel The Myth of You and I very much and looked forward to reading her new novel. I got into the story quickly, but unfortunately started to dislike the main characters half way through the book, in spite of the very fine writing. Eloise gives up everything- her teaching career at Harvard, her new found life and freedom in Boston, to take care of her deceased sister's three young children, when her mother does not want the responsibility. Along with moving to Cincinnati, she also moves into her childhood home, a vast "mansion". Seventeen years later, when the youngest child moves out, Eloise wants her mother to sign over the house to her so she can sell it and move on with her life. The problem is the two older children have moved back home, and are in no hurry to go anywhere. The oldest,Theo, fights with Eloise, going behind her back to the distant grandmother, and asks for the house herself, despite the glaringly obvious fact that there is no way she can possible afford to pay for the whole thing since she cannot even pay rent, having no job, nor much desire to get one. The character of Theo was the one I had the hardest time with. She seemed so self centered, not once did I get the sense that she had been the responsible, reliable eldest child. I did enjoy the other characters, and the writing as I said was very good. Maybe the idea of grown children returning home indefinitely scares me a bit, having two teens at home. A good book, but not a favorite. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 1/19/2014

    " Very readable ... engaging and a good story ... not literature with a capital "L" but well-written and enjoyable ... read it in one sitting ... but after the fact might have wished for more depth in character development and motivations ... but good interpersonal relationship depiction and great dialogue technique. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jenny Mulholland | 1/18/2014

    " I had to stop reading this book. I loved the premise, but it was frankly boring. Knowing how busy we all are, I couldn't make time for 10-15 minutes of catch up on this family. I didn't care. I love a book that makes you want to read, curled up on the couch, to the point you forget to make dinner. This is not it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim | 1/18/2014

    " A quick read, with a catchy plot, but the characters got on my nerves at times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doreen Ashbrook | 1/15/2014

    " I liked this book. It would work well for book group discussions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beverly Hobbs | 1/13/2014

    " I liked it, not sure I will remember it in a few years. Interesting story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Donna Luu | 1/4/2014

    " Moves along at a nice pace. Theo and Josh were a bit too witty, but still likeable. How come we never really learned anything about Claire? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Malinda | 12/19/2013

    " Though a bit slow at start, the family pulled me along in the end. I found much to identify with in this story of relationships. One of the four principles will touch any reader. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 12/9/2013

    " Great. Very moving especially right before Mother's Day. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mikkee | 10/30/2013

    " I don't know why I kept reading the book. It was a frustrating book. The characters were all so selfish, and the author shared the narrator's voice with all of them. It is rare that an author can achieve a variety of narrator's voices. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Gretchen | 9/9/2013

    " I simply don't want to read about homosexual relationships. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 8/28/2013

    " Great book. Love this author. You don't need a book report. Just go read it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Donna | 7/15/2013

    " Really enjoyed this! Meaty writing that makes you want to take your time instead of rushing to the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anastasia | 6/12/2013

    " This turned out to be a pretty good rad. I had to get past page 55 or so before I really began to like and care about the characters. The author appears to be quite young; I'm impressed that she has enough emotional maturity to have written this story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy Hakari-gorski | 6/6/2013

    " interesting story set in Cincinatti-a town I knew nothing about yet had just been through it twice before listening to the book. foul language albeit sparse was unnecessary and detracted from the goings on! alternative lifestyle also unnecessary. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cher | 4/4/2013

    " The History of Us is a fast, engaging read with well-drawn, interesting characters, contemporary story lines and a hopeful, open-ended conclusion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margie | 3/9/2013

    " Interesting read, fast read, about family. I would recomend as a quick read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sheryl Sorrentino | 2/24/2013

    " Well written story that explores a number of interesting and topical themes, e.g., twenty-somethings who never leave home, grappling with one's sexuality and life choices in middle-age, pursuing career vs. raising kids, and self-sacrifice vs. self-indulgence. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Walt | 1/21/2013

    " I like a book that once I start reading I can't put it down This book just didn't have that interest. There were several story lines and I kept waiting for them to come together. The end just let me down. "

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