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Extended Audio Sample The Quickening: A Novel Audiobook, by Michelle Hoover Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (967 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michelle Hoover Narrator: Carrington MacDuffie, Bernadette Dunne Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2010 ISBN: 9781455199181
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Enidina Current and Mary Morrow live on neighboring farms in the flat, hard country of the upper Midwest during the early 1900s. This hardscrabble life comes easily to some, like Eddie, who has never wanted more than the land she works and the animals she raises on it with her husband, Frank. But for the deeply religious Mary, farming is an awkward living and at odds with her more cosmopolitan inclinations. Still, Mary creates a clean and orderly home life for her stormy husband, Jack, and her sons, while she adapts to the isolation of a rural town through the inspiration of a local preacher. She is the first to befriend Eddie in a relationship that will prove as rugged as the ground they walk on. Despite having little in common, Eddie and Mary need one another for survival and companionship. But as the Great Depression threatens, the delicate balance of their reliance on one another tips, pitting neighbor against neighbor, exposing the dark secrets they hide from one another, and triggering a series of disquieting events that threatens to unravel not only their friendship but their families as well.

In this luminous and unforgettable debut, Michelle Hoover explores the polarization of the human soul in times of hardship and the instinctual drive for self-preservation by whatever means necessary. The Quickening stands as a novel of lyrical precision and historical consequence, reflecting the resilience and sacrifices required even now in our modern troubled times.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “I grew up among Iowa farm women, and Michelle Hoover has perfectly captured their voices and stories with great wisdom, tenderness, and beauty.”

    Ted Kooser, US poet laureate, 2004–2006

  • “Hoover’s powerful debut tells the story of the intertwined fortunes of two early twentieth-century Midwestern farm women…In this finely wrought and starkly atmospheric narrative, Hoover’s characters carry deep secrets, and their emotions are as intense as the acts of nature that shape their world.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A haunting, beautifully told story…Hoover writes with such emotional clarity about these two women, their fierce maternal instincts and their determination to survive in spite of impossible hardships, that the reader can almost feel their presence. Hoover is the granddaughter of four-generation-old farming families, so perhaps this empathy is in her genes, resulting in a captivating and heartfelt first novel.”

    BookPage

  • “A vivid, pastoral panorama…imbued throughout with a careful and evenly wrought lyricism.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “From the opening pages of this beautiful novel, I found myself immersed in the lives of these two farm women between the wars and their struggles with their families, themselves, the land, and each other. The Quickening is such a fully realized, sensually vivid, psychologically intelligent novel that it’s hard to believe it is a debut, but it is and a sparkling one.”

    Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street, winner of the 2009 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award

  • “Michelle Hoover’s writing is brilliant and gutsy. She sees deeply, with great wisdom and compassion, and she creates characters who are complex and authentic.”

    Ursula Hegi 

  • The Quickening, through its carefully wrought, precise prose, builds with a heartrending power that lingers long after the final page. Michelle Hoover is a writer to watch.”

    Don Lee

  • “Michelle Hoover’s fine debut novel recreates for us a way of life and a set of personalities that have vanished from our current scene, and she does so with a solidity of detail that will impress these people and these places forever on your memory.”

    Charles Baxter, author of The Feast of Love

  • “Though The Quickening is her first novel, Michelle Hoover does what all the best writers steeped in a particular place do—use that place as a conduit to the universal and timeless mysteries of the heart.  What an exceptional debut this book is.”

    Ron Rash, author of Serena

  • The Quickening is a rare jewel of a novel: an elegantly structured page-turner driven as much by its exquisite lyricism as it is by the gripping story at its core. It wondrously weaves a riveting half-century of American Midwestern history through the sensual, intimate, often strange details that make up a life. Michelle Hoover is a stunning writer and this is a fierce and beautiful book.”

    Maud Casey, author of Genealogy

  • Finalist for the 2010 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize
  • Finalist for the Indies Choice Award for Debut of 2010
  • Selected for the July 2010 Indie Next List
  • A 2010 Foreword Magazine Best Book Award Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mercedes | 2/13/2014

    " I got this book on a whim, it was actually on sale for my kindle. It was captivating and I couldn't stop reading and read it within only a few days which is a feat for a mom with three kids under 10! Told from the point of view of two different farmers wives in the early 1900's you will find yourself lost in their stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris Antenen | 2/5/2014

    " Interesting, and difficult, format executed well. Depth and understanding in a complicated plot. I've been starting a lot of books lately, but not finishing because I wasn't satisfied. This book I read in a day because it held my interest at a restless time. Best I've read since 'The Book Thief.' "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynn | 1/28/2014

    " Such a depressing book. Both of the main characters were unappealing. I only finished it because I wanted to know what happened and even that didn't "happen" "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth Friel | 1/24/2014

    " tough read, but hard to put down too. Not the ideal book club book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy Houston Fields | 1/17/2014

    " The tale of two neighboring families eeking out a living on their farms in the early 1900's. The differences, the bonds and dependency that keep them close become their undoing in the end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrea | 1/6/2014

    " Centers on two families and their intertwined lives: the one thing they have in common is that they are neighbors. A story about pervasive connections, reliance on others and the vulnerability that is inherent in such dependence. Also a tale of the deep love and longing parenthood saddles us with. Beautiful story, incredible writing but overall too dark for my taste. I would rather be uplifted by the idea of commnunity and family. Gave me great pause - and maybe that is by design. "

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

    " Hoover's tale of two women wrangling an existence out of the Iowa prairie in the years before the Depression is reminiscent of both Willa Cather and William Faulkner. I have been waiting for a writer to create fiction about Midwesterners that transfered Gothic themes from their usual perch in a rotting Southern house to a cabin on a windswept prairie. Hoover advances the pioneer tale genre with her unsparing descriptions of the tragedies and burdens of the women's lives. The men, one quiet, one occasionally violent, never become caricatures, but reflect the kinds of behavior patterns that would become rutted in the kinds of personalities that could survive the lashings of each season. Hoover uses real events of the era to show how neighbor relations and community justice evolved as the country began changing its relationship with farmers. This plays out against the whispered intimacies that the two women, bound more by what time and pregnancy do to their bodies than actual friendship, must exchange as the prairie howls over them and the doctor must be summoned from town. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laurel | 1/1/2014

    " Beautifully written...but what a bummer. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Stephanie C | 12/29/2013

    " just couldnt get into this one "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John Rogers | 12/28/2013

    " This is literary fiction at its best. I could feel the wind and the snow and get a sense of the life of a farm family. The characters a finely drawn, and the language is lovely "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tina | 12/24/2013

    " i didnt finish-couldnt get past the first 30 pages-will try again another time-its a short book but i need something to grab me right now "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marysue | 12/14/2013

    " An insightful novel about the Great Depression. The story parallels the lives of two families struggling to survive on their farms with a focus on the women. The story gave their personal struggles an air of dependence and tension that creates an interesting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hope | 12/11/2013

    " Good story line...characters are written in a fashion that you can relate well to what they are going through "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara Snow | 11/25/2013

    " A dark theme. Relentless lack of any joy. And I'm not sure what the lessons were. But it was a well written story and I got caught up in the characters and events. It was not an easy read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robin | 7/5/2013

    " I found this book to be so depressing. I listened to it, and when it was finished I just bawled. I was so disturbed by just how depressing it was. I gave it 3 stars because a book that can evoke such an emotional reaction has it's merits. I'm just not sure I would recommend it to anyone. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dottie | 5/3/2013

    " Two Iowa farmwives bound by their struggle to survive in the lonesome upper Midwest during the Great Depression. Loved the style of this writer. I think it is her first book...very good for a first time author. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Laura | 2/7/2013

    " As hard as I tried I could not finish this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 1/15/2013

    " I have a soft spot in my heart for domestic fiction, and another soft spot in my heart for plain, clear language. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Dyna | 11/19/2012

    " Bleh. I muddled through this. Not my cup of tea. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Debby | 5/8/2012

    " I liked the beginning but it was very slow going after that. Also, the ending was not good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anita | 11/11/2011

    " I was hoping this would be something like Eventide, but instead it was depressing with unlikable characters. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stephenie | 9/30/2011

    " That was a very depressing story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Irene | 5/12/2011

    " Beautifully written, and especially interesting as it is told from the perspectives of two characters. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brensum1 | 5/7/2011

    " Felt like I was waiting for this book to get good and it never really did. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jacquie | 4/28/2011

    " This book was not a page turner, but I enjoyed listening to it. It's told from the perspective of two very different women, neighbors on adjoining farms during the Great Depression; the story of what brings them together and what drives them apart. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy | 4/16/2011

    " Two farm wives have only each other as neighbors, and strike up a friendship of sorts despite their very different personalities. The chapters switch narrators, a literary style I enjoy. I greatly enjoyed it but can understand that others might not. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristin | 4/16/2011

    " The study of two farm women with two very distinct voices. Wonderfully complex characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 3/27/2011

    " Dark tale of 2 women homesteading in the upper Midwest. I listened to this & loved the reader's accent. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 3/27/2011

    " This was a hard story to follow, and did not endear the reader to have a strong desire to continue, but I persisted and finished the book! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Debbie | 3/18/2011

    " I was disappointed in how many questions this pioneer book left unanswered. The author doesnt make the complicated and deep relationship between the families real enough for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 3/18/2011

    " I really liked this book and would recommend it to anyone. Since not everything was said outright in the story, you definitely had to think about the context of some things. I don't re-read many books, but I would read this one again. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lori | 2/4/2011

    " This was a very difficult book to follow. I did however decifer sadness and not much happiness throughout. I would not recommend "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 2/3/2011

    " this was a first novel in the best sense of that phrase. it seems a seasoned writer cannot write like this again. it is not a cheerful book. i thought it was well done and true to itself. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laurel | 1/30/2011

    " Beautifully written...but what a bummer. "

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About the Author
Author Michelle Hoover

Michelle Hoover has published fiction in Confrontation, the Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, Best New American Voices, and others. She has been a Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference scholar, the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell fellow, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and the 2005 winner of the PEN/New England Discovery Award for Fiction. She was born in Ames, Iowa, the granddaughter of four longtime farming families.

About the Narrators

Carrington MacDuffie is a voice actor and recording artist who has narrated over two hundred audiobooks, received numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards, and has been a frequent finalist for the Audie Award, including for her original audiobook, Many Things Invisible. Alongside her narration work, she has released a new album of original songs, Only an Angel.

Bernadette Dunne is the winner of numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards and has twice been nominated for the prestigious Audie Award. She studied at the Royal National Theatre in London and the Studio Theater in Washington, DC, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center and off Broadway. She lives in Brooklyn.