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Extended Audio Sample The Undertow Audiobook, by Jo Baker Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.29 out of 53.29 out of 53.29 out of 53.29 out of 53.29 out of 5 3.29 (14 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jo Baker Narrator: Anna Bentinck Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2012 ISBN: 9781482974744
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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!

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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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jack7609 | 1/10/2014

    " A short epic. Entertaining but a but on the *sigh* side. Full review to follow. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judith Works | 12/27/2013

    " A very fine work by an English author. Her descriptions of a lower-middle-class family from 1914 to current days rings true on every page. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hope Rabi | 11/23/2013

    " This is a great book for those who enjoy historical fiction. The characters are so believable- portrayed as products of their time- "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laurene | 11/4/2013

    " A glimpse into the generations of families spanning 90 years, I loved the book but would have liked a longer novel with more time with each of the characters. If I could, I would have rated the book a 3.5. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 10/10/2013

    " The writing was rich, detailed, a pleasure to read. The characters bothered me, though. There seemed to be a pattern of an abrupt transition between sensitive, promising little boys who grew up to be weak, self-indulgent men. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dori | 7/24/2013

    " I would really give this 3 1/2 stars. It was a really good story; but I felt as though the last 60-70 pages drug on a little too long. I was ready for it to end long before it did. "

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

    " This book flowed well through the generations. Even though it typically only covered a short period of time for the main characters you understood them well. Great descriptive language. Thought provoking book. Will look for others by this author. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 maven | 5/13/2013

    " A bit of a disappointment. It had a neat premise, but it just didn't keep me that interested because of all the jumps into the future. Maybe if it had tried to cover less, or had spent more time on each section, it might have worked. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MaryAnn | 10/18/2012

    " Family saga featuring the Hastings family--William, who goes to war in 1914, his son Billy, who goes to the next war, his son, Will, and his daughter Billie. This story captures generations of love, fear, secrets, weaknesses and other foibles of human life. Good story all the way to the end! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hlt | 6/13/2012

    " Loved it, all the characters, skipping through the ages. A brilliant book. "

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About the Author

Jo Baker was born in Lancashire and educated at Oxford University and Queen’s University, Belfast. She is the author of several novels published in the United Kingdom: Offcomer, The Mermaid’s Child, and The Telling. The Undertow was her first publication in the United States. She lives in Lancaster.

About the Narrator

Anna Bentinck is a British actress who trained at Arts Educational Schools and has worked extensively for BBC Radio. Winner of four AudioFile Earphones Awards, she has provided voices for many audiobooks and such animated series as 64 Zoo Lane. Her film credits include Alice in Wonderland and To the Devil a Daughter.