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Extended Audio Sample The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay, by Beverly Jensen Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (615 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Beverly Jensen Narrator: Bernadette Dunn Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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This is a tale of two sisters over seventy years that recovers the vibrant and unforgettable voice of Beverly Jensen, whom Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize–winning American novelist, said has “rewritten the literary history of Maine.”

In 1916, Idella and Avis Hillock live on the edge of a chilly bluff in New Brunswick, Canada; a hardscrabble world of potato farms, rough men, hard work, and baffling beauty. From “Gone,” the heartbreaking account of the crisis that changed their lives forever, to the darkly comic “Wake,” which follows the grown siblings’ catastrophic efforts to escort the body of their father “Wild Bill” Hillock to his funeral, these stories of Idella and Avis offer a compelling and wry vision of two remarkable women. The vivid characters include Idella’s philandering husband, her bewilderingly difficult mother-in-law, and Avis, whose serial romantic disasters never quell her irrepressible spirit. Jensen’s work evokes a time gone by and reads like an instant American classic.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Every now and then—maybe two or three times in a decade—a book comes along that’s so good you want to buttonhole strangers on the street, show it to them, and say: ‘Read this! It will fill you up and make you glad you’re alive!’ The late Beverly Jensen’s The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay is exactly that kind of book. It roars from hilarity to horror to heartbreak, sometimes in the space of ten or twenty pages, then back again to hilarity. It’s profane, loving, hardnosed, and completely beautiful. If you ever loved The Memory Keeper’s Daughter or The Secret Life of Bees, you have been waiting for this book and just didn’t know it. Idella and Avis, the sisters from Hardscrabble Bay, stole my heart. They’ll steal yours, as well. Read this book. And buy a copy for your best friend, because you’ll want to keep yours.”

    Stephen King 

  • “The story of these two sisters, Idella and Avis, travels from Canada to New England, but mostly it travels through their lives and hearts, and it will travel through your heart, as well.”

    Elizabeth Strout, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Olive Kitteridge

  • “An original voice, sharp witted and big hearted, as if a rambunctious and deeply troubled family out of William Faulkner’s Mississippi had been tempered instead by the snowy reaches of the North.”

    Poets & Writers

  • “Bernadette Dunne has a pleasantly hoarse, easygoing voice that seems to grow increasingly textured and wiser as the novel progresses and the sisters age. Her clear emotional tones amplify the scenes as she travels with Idella and Avis from tragic childhoods through humdrum adulthoods to comic endings. Without awkward exaggeration, she creates a unique personality for each character, male and female.”

    Publishers Weekly audio review

  • “The harsh life and times of the sisters is presented in sharp detail through their own eyes, with issues of class and gender revealed along the way. From their rocky beginnings through their father's death and their own old age in 1986, the sisters' tale remains compelling.”

    Library Journal

  • “Dunne’s reading captures all the poignant moments in the story. She does a fantastic creation of both French and Danish accents…Dunne’s reading expresses the happiness and sadness that govern the lives of the sisters, capturing all the emotions whether humorous or heartbreaking. Jensen has a true gift for describing the beautiful scenery in the Northeast where the story is set.”


  • “Published posthumously, Jensen’s debut is a rich cycle-of-life narrative…Straightforward yet lyric prose and an eye for the crucial detail bring the Hillocks’ world vividly to life.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Selected for the July 2010 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Susan | 2/12/2014

    " Not my usual choice of books, but found it on display at the library and enjoyed it. Interesting format and character development. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Nminnig | 2/5/2014

    " Book club selection - interesting characters "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Charline | 2/3/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book. This really hits home. I was born near Boston and grew in New Brunswick, this could be the story of a lot of my ancestors, my grandparents and my parents. It was like reading stories of my relatives. This Novel was funny, sad, loving.... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Nikki | 1/31/2014

    " Interesting enough to keep my attention, but just felt lukewarm about it after reading! "

  • > Show All
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About the Author

Beverly Jensen earned an MFA in drama from Southern Methodist University. She died of cancer in 2003 at the age of forty-nine without publishing her work. Since her death, her fiction has been championed by a dedicated group of supporters, including Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates. After her death, her story “Wake” was published in the New England Review, included in The Best American Short Stories 2007, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is survived by her husband, Jay Silverman, and their two children.