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Download The Laments: A Novel Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Laments: A Novel, by George Hagen Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (426 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: George Hagen Narrator: Simon Vance, Richard Matthews Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Meet the Laments—the affably dysfunctional globetrotting family at the center of George Hagen’s exuberant debut novel.

Howard is an engineer who dreams of irrigating the Sahara and lives by the motto “Laments move!” His wife Julia is a fiery spirit who must balance her husband’s oddly peripatetic nature with unexpected aspirations of her own. And Will is the “waif with a paper-thin heart” who is given to Howard and Julia in return for their own child who has been lost in a bizarre maternity ward mishap. As Will makes his way from infancy to manhood in a family that careens from continent to continent, one wonders where the Laments will ever belong.

In Bahrain, Howard takes a job with an oil company and young Will makes his first friend. But in short order he is wrenched off to another land, his mother’s complicated friendship with the American siren Trixie Howitzer causing the family to bolt. In Northern Rhodesia, during its last days as a white colony, the twin enfants terribles Marcus and Julius are born, and Will falls for the gardener’s daughter, a girl so vain that she admires her image in the lid of a biscuit tin. But soon the family’s life is upturned again, thie time by their neighbor Major Buck Quinn, with his suburban tirades against black self-rule. Envisioning a more civilized life on “the sceptered isle,” the Laments board an ocean liner bound for England. Alas, poor Will is greeted by the tribal ferocity of his schoolmates and a society fixated on the Blitz. No sooner has he succumbed to British pop culture in the guise of mop-top Sally Byrd and her stacks of 45s, than the Laments uproot themselves once again, and it’s off to New Jersey, where life deals crisis and opportunity in equal measure.

Undeniably eccentric, the Laments are also universal. Every family moves on in life. Children grow up, things are left behind; there is always something to lament. Through the Lament’s restlessness, responses to adversity, and especially their unwieldy love for one another, George Hagen gives us a portrait of every family that is funny, tragic, and improbably true.

From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • The Laments is a fine novel, about family, migration, identity, and the struggle to find and hold on to it. It is also hugely entertaining and very, very funny. Roddy Doyle, author of The Barrytown Trilogy
  • A vital international journey through the vicissitudes of family life. This story, centering on the timeless theme of a child swapped at birth, is immensely readable, funny, and touching—a complete joy. Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isabelle
  • “George Hagen’s highly entertaining debut novel features an irresistibly headstrong family, a global sweep, and not only a sense of loss and displacement that’s perfectly in tune with the world we live in but also a full measure of resilient humanity. Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ruth | 2/18/2014

    " This book was delightful... quirky, unpredictable, tragic and very funny. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Patty | 2/17/2014

    " For a long time I didn't think I liked this book. It seemed too light, no real substance. I kept waiting for some major, tragic event to occur. (That shows what kind of books I've been reading lately!) Eventually the characters and the story grew on me, especially the main character, Will, who is a quiet, serious boy who was switched at birth and doesn't know it. Throughout the book the Lament family travels, always in search of a fresh start, a better job, and a better life. Each new home brings its own challenges, and the mother is convinced that something is lost every time they move. Eventually I realized that this book wasn't the light, nothing story I had first thought it was (It does have its share of tragedy). By the end I was really enjoying it, and I was sad when it ended. It was a pretty easy read. I'd recommend it as a break between heavier books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Mandy | 2/16/2014

    " if you are a wandering gypsy who has moved a lot, you may relate to this book and the strange urge to keep moving on to see what else is out there. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tony | 2/8/2014

    " More of a 3 1/2 star review, but I don't think those are permitted on this site. It's a very well written novel, but I couldn't get over a plot point in the beginning of the book. I don't think it would have been treated as lightly as it was in the book. "

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