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Extended Audio Sample The Undertow, by Jo Baker Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (171 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jo Baker Narrator: Anna Bentinck Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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This is the story of the Hasting family—their secrets, their loves and losses, dreams and heartbreaks—captured in a seamless series of individual moments that span the years between the first World War and the present. The novel opens in 1914 as William, a young factory worker, spends one last evening at home before his departure for the navy…His son Billy, grows into a champion cyclist and will ride into the D-Day landings on a military bicycle…His son in turn, Will, struggles with a debilitating handicap to become an Oxford professor in the 1960s…And finally, young Billie Hastings makes a life for herself as an artist in contemporary London. Just as the names echo down through the family, so too does the legacy of choices made, chances lost, and truths long buried. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Gripping and ruthless…The main characters are fully realized, with each personality becoming a force field and the language warping around them. Baker is skilled at evoking not only the distinctive social circumstances of the settings but the essential nature of each character…You can’t walk away from her book.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Engaging…The Hastings family must fend off adversity of all kinds and from every side. Their challenges—so movingly detailed here—provide a profound sense of the whole tumultuous century.”

    Washington Post

  • “Has a quiet, cumulative power; you read it not quite realizing how it’s burrowing under your skin…Demonstrates a real mastery of language, from the way the book’s phrases subtly become more up-to-date as time passes, to the stream-of-consciousness [Baker] effortlessly slips into as the characters experience moments of great emotion or excitement…Moving but never sentimental.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Jo Baker is a novelist with a gift for intimate and atmospheric storytelling…[She] skillfully delineates the currents of social change and the essential human drama that persists…The result is an agile, keenly observed novel that evokes the minuscule rewards and disappointments of the everyday.”

    Financial Times

  • “Immediate, poignant, and rarely predictable, this searchingly observant work captures a huge terrain of personal aspiration against a shifting historical and social background. Impressive.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “We’re in love with the intricate, sensitive historical novel The Undertow.”

    Oprah.com (Book of the Week)

  • “Richly evocative…Places Baker at the top end of the list of emerging British literary talent.”

    Time Out London

  • “Some writers let you know you’re in safe hands from the start, and Jo Baker is one of them. Stretching from the First World War to the present day, this drama-rich saga unfolds as a series of intimate family portraits…There are gripping set-pieces, from childbirth to battlefield, all related in cut-glass prose and embedded with telling period detail.”

    Independent (London)

  • “Deeply affecting…This is a sweeping drama with real emotional depth…The novel has cumulative force, the final chapters impressing most. Baker infuses her fluid, descriptive prose with a brilliantly generous squirt of smells [and sensations].”

    Daily Mail (London)

  • “A poignant, emotionally intense read that illuminates the legacies of love and loss for ordinary people.”

    Marie Claire

  • “An emotionally involving story [whose] scenes ring true…Baker tackles Boy’s Own subjects—war, cycle racing, great escapes—with impressive confidence. Yet the book’s most moving moment is not amid the tragedy of war but in a quiet little scene between a teenage boy and his half-sister.”

    Observer (London)

  • One of the 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Fiction
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title”, May 2012

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Anne | 2/10/2014

    " 2 1/2 stars. What has happened at Kirkus? I used to be able to count on their starred reviews. Not anymore. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by John | 2/5/2014

    " I was pulled into "The Undertow" right away. It's a novel that follows the lives of one British family from the death of a father and husband during World War I through present day. I'm always fascinated by stories that span multiple generations because they show us how forgotten events percolate down through time and shape our lives. Baker crafts her prose carefully as she moves between different perspectives--a novel like this is a challenge because of the span of time it covers, but she is able to maintain a narrative that is easy to follow from the moment it captures your attention on the shores of Gallipoli. Beautiful and moving. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bonnye Reed | 1/21/2014

    " Enjoyed the generations in this book. Would like to read more by Jo Baker, and other's of this style. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Rosemary | 1/20/2014

    " Generations of the Hastings family searching in vain for happiness in life; William dies in WWI, Billy is a failed cyclist, Will cannot be the athlete or fit in for his father-until finally his daughter, Billie, finds true love and contentment and purpose in life while also savoring the history of her family. Disappointing style, but I did feel compelled to finish it and Billie's story was the best part. "

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