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Extended Audio Sample The Hundred-Year House Audiobook, by Rebecca Makkai Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Rebecca Makkai Narrator: Jen Tullock Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2014 ISBN: 9780698162358
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The acclaimed author of The Borrower returns with a dazzlingly original, mordantly witty novel about the secrets of an old-money family and their turn-of-the-century estate, Laurelfield.

Meet the Devohrs: Zee, a Marxist literary scholar who detests her parents’ wealth but nevertheless finds herself living in their carriage house; Gracie, her mother, who claims she can tell your lot in life by looking at your teeth; and Bruce, her step-father, stockpiling supplies for the Y2K apocalypse and perpetually late for his tee time. Then there’s Violet Devohr, Zee’s great-grandmother, who they say took her own life somewhere in the vast house and whose massive oil portrait still hangs in the dining room.

Violet’s portrait was known to terrify the artists who resided at the house from the 1920s to the 1950s, when it served as the Laurelfield Arts Colony, and this is exactly the period Zee’s husband, Doug, is interested in. An out-of-work academic whose only hope of a future position is securing a book deal, Doug is stalled on his biography of the poet Edwin Parfitt, once in residence at the colony. All he needs to get the book back on track, besides some motivation and self-esteem, is access to the colony records, rotting away in the attic for decades. But when Doug begins to poke around where he shouldn’t, he finds Gracie guards the files with a strange ferocity, raising questions about what she might be hiding. The secrets of the hundred-year house would turn everything Doug and Zee think they know about her family on its head—that is, if they were to ever uncover them.

In this brilliantly conceived, ambitious, and deeply rewarding novel, Rebecca Makkai unfolds a generational saga in reverse, leading the reader back in time on a literary scavenger hunt as we seek to uncover the truth about these strange people and this mysterious house. With intelligence and humor, a daring narrative approach, and a lovingly satirical voice, Rebecca Makkai has crafted an unforgettable novel about family, fate, and the incredible surprises life can offer.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Makkai’s screwball intrigue [is] fresh and fun.”

    Good Housekeeping

  • “A page-turner of a novel with whip-smart dialogue.”

    Minneapolis Star-Tribune

  • "A lively and clever story...exceptionally well-constructed, with engaging characters...and delightful twists that surprise and satisfy."

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “This novel is stunning: ambitious, readable, and intriguing. Its gothic elements, complexity, and plot twists are reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. Chilling and thoroughly enjoyable.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Charmingly clever and mischievously funny…[with] a dazzling plot spiked with secrets…[Makkai’s] offbeat characters and suspenseful story could have added up to a stylish romp. Instead, Makkai offers that and much more as she stealthily investigates the complexities of ambition, sexism, violence, creativity, and love in this diverting yet richly dimensional novel.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “A clever and utterly delightful work of fiction…infused with a respect for literature and literary culture, as well as a wry sense of humor…[and] starring a house with as much personality as Manderley or Hill House. Told in reverse chronology, it unfolds as a kind of bookish scavenger hunt…Though no one character ever knows all the house’s secrets, the reader does, and putting all the facts together is half the fun.”


  • “Two married couples find themselves cohabitating in a guesthouse on the rich—and possibly haunted—estate of Laurelfield, once an artist and writer’s colony…These guests of Laurelfield are complex, trapped not only by the estate, which has a complicated history and dark secrets of its own, but by their own problems and decisions.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A BookPage Best Book of 2014
  • A 2014 Good Housekeeping Pick for Summer Reading
  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, July 2014
  • A BookPage Top Pick, July 2014
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About the Author
Author Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai’s stories have been anthologized in the 2008, 2009, and 2010 editions of The Best American Short Stories, and have appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, and on NPR’s Selected Shorts. Makkai teaches elementary school and lives north of Chicago with her husband and two daughters.

About the Narrator

Jen Tullock is an actor, writer, comedian, and AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator. Her work has been featured at Second City, New York Stage & Film Festival, New York Fringe Festival, Anthology Film Center, and the Broadway Comedy Club. She is the former singer/songwriter for the New York tin-pan alley parody band Punch & Judy and the creator of the 1940’s radio satire The Out of Hand Radio Hour. After starring in the ’80s musical Love in a Tub at Broadway Comedy Club, she began a residency at the Midtown Theater. In 2010 her play The Projectionist was produced as part of the New York Stage & Film festival’s Powerhouse line-up.