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Download The Snow Queen: A Novel Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Snow Queen: A Novel, by Michael Cunningham 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: Michael Cunningham Narrator: Claire Danes Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A darkly luminous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hours

Michael Cunningham’s luminous novel begins with a vision. It’s November 2004. Barrett Meeks, having lost love yet again, is walking through Central Park when he is inspired to look up at the sky; there he sees a pale, translucent light that seems to regard him in a distinctly godlike way. Barrett doesn’t believe in visions—or in God—but he can’t deny what he’s seen.

At the same time, in the not-quite-gentrified Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, Tyler, Barrett’s older brother, a struggling musician, is trying—and failing—to write a wedding song for Beth, his wife-to-be, who is seriously ill. Tyler is determined to write a song that will be not merely a sentimental ballad but an enduring expression of love.

Barrett, haunted by the light, turns unexpectedly to religion. Tyler grows increasingly convinced that only drugs can release his creative powers. Beth tries to face mortality with as much courage as she can summon.

Cunningham follows the Meeks brothers as each travels down a different path in his search for transcendence. In subtle, lucid prose, he demonstrates a profound empathy for his conflicted characters and a singular understanding of what lies at the core of the human soul.

The Snow Queen, beautiful and heartbreaking, comic and tragic, proves again that Cunningham is one of the great novelists of his generation.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The pursuit of transcendence in all kinds of forms—music, drugs, a McQueen minidress, and those things less tangible but no less powerfully felt—drives Michael Cunningham's best novel in more than a decade, The Snow Queen.”


  • The Snow Queen wears its contemporaneity lightly because the novel really concerns itself with eternal themes: the quest for love, the unfairness and inevitability of death, and the hope of a meaningful life…[A] thoughtful, intimate novel.”

    USA Today

  • “A potent portrait of two brothers and their urgent midlife yearning to find some sense of purpose and belonging…He artfully allows the reader direct access to [his characters’] hearts and minds by using his gift for empathy and his own brand of stream of consciousness…A the same time, Mr. Cunningham provides an impressionistic portrait of Brooklyn, circa 2004, and of the East Village, some four years later…These snapshots attest to his ability to give us an intimate sense of his characters’ daily lives, while situating their hopes and dreams within the context of two moments in history already slipping by.”

    New York Times

  • “Regardless of your theological position on signs and wonders, that voice, Cunningham’s inimitable style, is the real miracle of The Snow Queen…He writes so wisely about the cruel taunting of remission and the way illness both deepens and frays romantic relationships, endowing the dying with a kind of security and purpose that healthy people crave. His portrayal of the once-blessed Meeks brothers, raised in expectation of fame and riches they’ll never attain—not even close—is full of affecting pathos.”

    Washington Post

  • “The same masterful language that earned Cunningham a Pulitzer for The Hoursin 1998 elevates this story…to a gratifying examination of transcendence in ordinary life… Overall, The Snow Queen proves to be a fulfilling literary experience, especially for fans of Cunningham’s previous work.”

    Los Angeles Magazine

  • The Snow Queen is inspired by classic fairy tales, though Cunningham’s sensibilities skew in a thoroughly modern (even post-modern) direction, resulting in a very beautiful hodgepodge…The lush writing is gorgeous throughout…At a technical level The Snow Queen is extraordinary.”

    Irish Independent

  • “Whether taking readers along on an ecstatic drug trip or picking over the fine line between creative genius and maudlin tripe, Cunningham’s masterful eye for human observation leads the way. Once again, he shows his talent for picking away the crust of familiarity and revealing the diamond brilliance at the heart of every moment of our lives.”

    Shelf Awareness

  • “Tender, funny, and sorrowful, Cunningham’s beautiful novel is as radiant and shimmering as Barrett’s mysterious light in the sky, gently illuminating the gossamer web of memories, feelings, and hopes that mysteriously connect us to each other as the planet spins its way round and round the sun.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Cunningham explores the interconnected lives of Barrett, Tyler, and Beth, three individuals awaiting deliverance from their own personal dystopia, a dilapidated Bushwick, Brooklyn, apartment…Though these characters are all searching for redemption (whether it’s through religion, rehab, or a cure), the secret of humanity is ultimately revealed to each through the others’ lives. Verdict: In concise yet descriptive language, Cunningham weaves the secret of transcendence through the mundane occurrences of everyday life. Those who enjoyed his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hours will be pleased to see similar themes emerging in his newest novel.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “At its heart, Cunningham’s story is about family, and how we reconcile our closest human relationships with our innermost thoughts, hopes, and fears…Cunningham has not attempted to answer any of life’s great questions here, but his poignant and heartfelt novel raises them in spades.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[A] study of fickle fate….He deftly allows Barrett’s vision its power of wonderment while keeping the story firmly realistic. References to fairy tales, magic, and miracles are sparingly but strategically deployed.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Narrator Clare Danes delivers an exceptionally good performance. Her clear, thoughtful reading is suited to both Cunningham’s moments of soaring, lyrical language and to the casual, irreverent tone of the dialog among friends. Verdict: A well-written novel that’s enriched by the audio performance.”

    Library Journal (starred audio review)

  • “A swell of urgent stringed music introduces a lovely narration by Claire Danes of award-winning author Michael Cunningham’s latest novel. Danes’s melodious voice melds a story that spins from a Hans Christian Andersen fairy-tale quotation to New York’s Central Park, where Barrett Meeks sees something wondrous in the night sky…Narrating with clarity and a touch of gentleness, Danes voices characters who sound typically American, while also infusing them with a wonderment that subtly signals Cunningham’s transcendent examination of love, fate, and the meaning of it all.”


  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, May 2014
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
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