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Extended Audio Sample The O’Briens Audiobook, by Peter Behrens Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (499 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Peter Behrens Narrator: Paul Hecht Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2012 ISBN: 9781464038280
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Peter’s eagerly awaited second novel is The O’Briens. In the character of Joe O’Brien—ambitious railroad magnate and industrialist, fiercely loyal family man, brooding troubled soul—he gives us one of the most compelling and complex characters to come along in years. A brilliant follow–up to The Law of Dreams, and yet standing masterfully on its own, The O’Briens is a tragic, romantic, and ultimately hopeful epic of great heart, imagination and narrative force.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Impressive…World War II hovers in this novel’s path like flak and rips the lives of the novel’s characters to shreds. The last hundred pages are a powerful evocation of that war’s effect…A major accomplishment.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “As befits a saga so ambitious in design, there is an able mixture of agony and ecstasy throughout. Time and time again, Behrens proves himself a first-rate seanchaí, the Irish term for a storyteller, by bringing the O’Brien clan to life on the page. En route, he fashions a topographically capacious narrative that relishes the scents of Santa Barbara, the pastoral beauty of the Ojai Valley and the tidal mantras of coastal Maine.”  

    Washington Post

  • Powerful…Moments of grace and romance are rocked by cruel words and violence in this epic, a piece of rough beauty itself.”  

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “The story of Joe O’Brien and his family is epic in its scope…and lifetimes unfold in its pages. That the lives hold our attention so closely is a tribute to Behrens’ beautiful writing, and a reminder of just how vital, brutal, and pervasive love is.”  

    Huffington Post

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patricia | 2/13/2014

    " Pretty good didn't care for the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Slc | 2/9/2014

    " Excellent family saga. The book begins in Pontiac Quebec which is a place close to my heart and why I picked up the book. Very well written. I will now look for Peter Behrens previous novel 'Law of Dreams' which won the GG in 2006. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lorna Driscoll | 1/28/2014

    " man oh man......why do people write 500 pages of such rambling drivel.....(and why did I stick it out?) I guess I thought it might get better at the end, but it got worse! And all this from an author who was a GG award winner. I don't get it! What am I missing? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cynthia Gelper | 1/13/2014

    " Loved this historical novel about an Irish Catholic family in early 20th century Canada and the US. Beautifully written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maya Lang | 1/10/2014

    " Loved this book. The early sections (Irish family in Canada in the 1880s; Venice, CA, in the early 1900s) were my favorite. By the time you get to the sections involving World War II, you realize what a sprawling saga of a novel this is, and it maybe became a little too big for me. The place where the novel ends (1960, Maine) felt arbitrary--like it could have ended fifty pages earlier or later. But I say that not as a complaint--there's something wonderful about creating a family so complex that they can just continue on forever. I was definitely engrossed for the entire read, and now want to read everything by him. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 1/5/2014

    " This novel of historical fiction covers the time period of 1887 to 1960, from the Canadian wilderness to California to Montreal. It is the story of Joe O'Brien and the love of his life, Iseult Wilkins. We meet Joe as a boy, caring for his younger siblings. As a young man, he learns to succeed in business and begins to win railway contracts in the wilds of Canada. He meets Iseult and they begin their future together. We follow the family up to 1960, with the backdrop of two world wars and of the changes in the world during that time period. The story pulls us forward through time and follows a marriage that, while far from perfect, provides an anchor for the family members that guides them through their lives. The writing is descriptive, rich and imaginative. It gets into the heads of the characters; we feel their motivations and doubts, experience their pain and happiness. I felt as if I knew this family and finally saw how things would turn out. I greatly enjoyed spending time with this book and will be exploring other books by this author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Virginia Campbell | 1/4/2014

    " Master storyteller Peter Behrens once again enthralls readers with the generation-spanning saga of "The O'Briens". Continuing the amazing story line that he began with "The Law of Dreams", Behrens moves into the late 19th-century lives of the Irish family who left their famine-ridden homeland to seek the land of dreams known as America. When young Joe O'Brien's father goes off to war, Joe becomes the man of the family at age fifteen. After his father's death, the man seeking to marry Joe's mother violates Joe's younger sisters. Seeking safety and a better life, Joe and his siblings leave the backwoods of the Canadian frontier and head toward the land of opportunity across the border. Joe O'Brien not only survives--he thrives. A fortuitous marriage and talent for making money propel Joe and his clan through a breathtakingly told tale of love, loss, and redemption, beginning in the remarkable era of the late 1800's. So much occurred during a relatively short period of time. Changes to technology, transportation, communications, social mores, religion, fashions, science and medicine, literature, art and entertainment. The American Civil War and its long-lasting aftereffects. The glory and grit of the American Old West. A very rich and revolutionary period in history. Later, the story moves into the 20th-century, depicting the thrill of the first flying machines, the sorrow of two world wars, and the election of America's Irish Prince, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, as president of the United States. In the 1970's, and on into the 80's, there were written wonderful, great big door-stopper books that depicted the epic lives of families such as the O'Briens. From those books, we were deluged with grand TV mini-series, which were celebrity-studded and star-making film extravaganzas. I miss those days! I was a young and impressionable reader and viewer, and I still remember those stories and series with a great fondness. I thank Peter Behrens for giving me back a sense of the splendor of those golden days. Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara | 12/27/2013

    " I liked this book a lot. I will admit that the first half was better than the second half. I really liked Joe. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marilyn | 12/18/2013

    " Did not love the book. The characters were hard to connect to. Would not recommend it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol Eshaghy | 12/6/2013

    " I alway enjoy multi-generational books. This one takes place in Canada and the U.S. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 11/30/2013

    " A very well written novel with an interesting plot and believable characters. Held my attention and made me want to read other works by this author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 11/13/2013

    " Really great...the Irish immigrant saga in Canada. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jo | 7/29/2013

    " If you enjoy a family saga set in a historical context--and, really, who doesn't?--you will enjoy the O'Brien's story of loss and love and loss. The characters are generally well developed and interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liz | 4/21/2013

    " Loved it....family epic that remind me of The Burden of Desire. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cindy | 3/17/2013

    " Probably the most depressing book I have ever read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Martha | 8/23/2012

    " Good, not as good as Law of Dreams, a little dark "

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About the Author
Author Peter Behrens

Peter Behrens is a Canadian novelist, screenwriter and short story writer. His debut novel, The Law of Dreams, won the 2006 Governor General's Award for English fiction. Behrens was born and raised in Montreal, where he studied at Concordia University and McGill University. His earliest short fiction can be found in Best Canadian Stories 1978 and Best Canadian Stories 1979, and in his debut short story collection, Night Driving (1987). He subsequently worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter; though he continued to publish short stories and essays in Canadian and American magazines, he did not publish another book until The Law of Dreams, his novel of a homeless lad thrown off his lands by the Ireland's Great Potato Famine. Behrens currently lives in Maine with his family.

About the Narrator

Paul Hecht’s long career in audiobooks spans dozens of titles and authors as varied as Ray Bradbury and Gore Vidal, Jack Finney and Thomas Mann. He has recorded such books as Bob Dole’s One Soldier’s Story and Alexander McCall Smith’s Portuguese Irregular Verbs and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances. Hecht’s theater career in New York includes many Broadway and television credits. He has won nine AudioFile Earphones Awards for his audiobook narrations.