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Extended Audio Sample The Widowers Tale Audiobook, by Julia Glass Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,025 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Julia Glass Narrator: Mark Bramhall Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2010 ISBN: 9780739383100
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In a historic farmhouse outside Boston, seventy-year-old Percy Darling is settling happily into retirement: reading novels, watching old movies, and swimming naked in his pond. His routines are disrupted, however, when he is persuaded to let a locally beloved preschool take over his barn. As Percy sees his rural refuge overrun by children, parents, and teachers, he must reexamine the solitary life he has made in the three decades since the sudden death of his wife. No longer can he remain aloof from his community, his two grown daughters, or, to his shock, the precarious joy of falling in love.
One relationship Percy treasures is the bond with his oldest grandchild, Robert, a premed student at Harvard. Robert has long assumed he will follow in the footsteps of his mother, a prominent physician, but he begins to question his ambitions when confronted by a charismatic roommate who preaches—and begins to practice—an extreme form of ecological activism, targeting Boston’s most affluent suburbs.
Meanwhile, two other men become fatefully involved with Percy and Robert: Ira, a gay teacher at the preschool, and Celestino, a Guatemalan gardener who works for Percy’s neighbor, each one striving to overcome a sense of personal exile. Choices made by all four men, as well as by the women around them, collide forcefully on one lovely spring evening, upending everyone’s lives, but none more radically than Percy’s.
With equal parts affection and satire, Julia Glass spins a captivating tale about the loyalties, rivalries, and secrets of a very particular family. Yet again, she plumbs the human heart brilliantly, dramatically, and movingly.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Brilliantly rescues, then refurbishes, the traditional plot-driven novel . . . Glass has written a generous book about family expectations—but also about happiness. The New York Times Book Review
  • A satisfyingly cleareyed and compassionate view of American entitlement and its fallout. . . The family is society’s most inescapable institution, but in Glass’s hands it’s also the most shifting and vulnerable. And in The Widower’s Tale she approaches the ties of kinship with the same joyfully disruptive spirit that animated her previous books. Maria Russo, The New York Times Book Review
  • An enchanting story of familial bonds and late-life romance. Expect to be infatuated with Glass’s protagonist, 70-year-old Percy Darling, he of generous soul, dry wit, and courtly manners. Oprah
  • [Glass’s] second novel is even finer than her first . . . Her characters are enticingly complex, their predicaments are provocative and significant . . . Her love for animals, feel for landscape, and ardor for language itself feed the freshness, sensuousness, and compassion that make this such a nourishing and pleasurable read. Chicago Tribune
  • Beautiful and satisfying, chock-full of the gorgeous, heartbreaking stuff that makes life worth living. Rocky Mountain News
  • Enormously accomplished . . . Rich, absorbing, and full of life. The New Yorker
  • Glass effortlessly ping-pongs between three dramas to show how everyday love and lies can make—or completely destroy—a life. This one’s perfect for when you’ve got the night all to yourself and want to keep thinking long after the last page is turned. Redbook
  • Tremendously engaging . . . It's a large, endearing cast, bursting with emotional and social issues, and Glass slips effortlessly between their individual and enmeshed dramas. As she well proved in her National Book Award-winning Three Junes, Glass crafts dense and absorbing reads that are as charming as they are provocative. Karen Valby, Entertainment Weekly
  • Both funny and heartbreaking, [Glass’s] fourth novel will eave readers examining their own choices and priorities . . . One of the most remarkable aspects of Glass’s novel is that she writes convincingly from multiple points of view, classes and stations in life. Bookpage
  • Alluring descriptions, along with discerning characters, intricate plot lines, and the tackling of several complex issues offers an empathetic yet lively read. New York Journal of Books
  • Glass spins a beautifully paced, keenly observed story in which certainties give way to surprising reversals of fortune . . . Glass handles coalescing plot elements with astute insight into the complexity of family relationships, the gulf between social classes, and our modern culture of excess to create a dramatic, thought-provoking, and immensely satisfying novel. Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • Glass’s perfect plot gives each character his or her due, in an irresistible pastoral tragicomedy that showcases the warmth and wisdom of one of America’s finest novelists, approaching if not already arrived at her peak. Kirkus, starred review
  • Elaborately plotted and luxuriously paced, Glass’s inquisitive, compassionate, funny, and suspenseful saga addresses significant and thorny social issues with emotional veracity, artistic nuance, and a profound perception of the grand interconnectivity of life. Booklist (starred review)
  • Rich, intricate, and alive with emotion . . . An honest portrait of sister-love and sister-hate—interlocking, brave, and forgiving.  The New York Times Book Review
  • One doesn’t read so much as sink into a Julia Glass novel, lulled into an escapist reverie by her mastery . . . A novel that begins as sophisticated diversion [becomes] a haunting dissection of human fragility. People

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ken Chavez | 2/1/2014

    " I "read" this as an audio book. Meh! It starts out with lots of potential but all the conflicts are worked out in a mealy mouthed kinda way. Very New England in that all the drama is subdued. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katharine Holden | 1/30/2014

    " An excess of characters, each with lengthy back stories and first-person narration, drags this novel down. No character is allowed to be peripheral. Exhausting. Halfway through I no longer cared how the book would resolve itself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sara | 1/26/2014

    " I thoroughly enjoyed the writing in this book. The story immersed me into this family and I was captivated. I loved that the main character was a widower in his 70's and that Glass wrote through his viewpoint. It always astounds me when a woman can so convincingly be in the head of a male character and grab me hook, line and sinker. It was a long book and not necessarily a quick read but I am glad that I read it! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Terry Earley | 1/21/2014

    " I would not recommend. I could not get through the first 50 pages. Something about the style made me cringe. Sorry. I know others thought it was good, but it was not for me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jacqui | 1/16/2014

    " Pretty sure I didn't finish it. Maybe I had something more appealing to read.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy Feltham | 1/15/2014

    " Julia Glass writes so well, and builds lovely webs among her characters. I really enjoyed this novel, as much as Three Junes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Theresa | 1/9/2014

    " Family stuff, interesting main character, good summer read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathe Yorke | 12/21/2013

    " I enjoyed this book, but I would not list it as one of my favorites. For whatever reason there were too many characters to connect to, and I felt some of the issues were left up in the air. I thoroughly enjoyed all her other books, especially "The Three Junes". "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Yvonne | 12/2/2013

    " I really felt this book was well written. Percy is such a unique character. I recommend this book. You have to read it because it doesn't end the way that you would expect it to. I like the way the characters relate to each other. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara Nourse | 11/24/2013

    " What an engaging novel with many characters you can relate to and understand. I enjoy the books that Julia Glass writes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emarr99aol.com | 10/26/2013

    " I really did like the cast of characters. By the end, though, I felt slightly depressed and unsatisfied. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristin Redmond | 8/13/2013

    " Am enjoying this and finding parallels between this and 'I see you everywhere' which i just finished by the same author. I really enjoyed this book. I did think it was a little drawn out, but the storyline and characters were fantastic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Muriel | 7/10/2013

    " Engaging multiple stories strung along the Widower's move from curmudgeonhood to acceptance, even appreciation. Glass sustains the interest throughout and leaves you wishing for more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Penny Stow | 3/13/2013

    " I listened to this book from Audible.com, narrated by Mark Bramhall. It was a great listen - really enjoyed both the story and the narrator. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aketchum | 2/14/2013

    " Excellent chicklit. Found myself totally lost immersed in this multi-generational story that ended up in a totally unexpected place. Wishing for a sequel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elena | 2/13/2013

    " The main character, Percy Darling, gives the story charm and wit. His unique way of talking make him a very engaging character. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin | 1/11/2013

    " Great story - one of the best that I read all summer! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Libby | 10/10/2012

    " Very sharply written. Overall the storylines are interesting and compelling but at times it feels like there are a few too many characters crammed in. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Agnes | 5/28/2012

    " I loved reading this book, but I was just a little disappointed with the ending. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristina | 4/26/2012

    " Excellent! Wonderful characters. Loved the local flavor. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Catherine Buscaglia | 2/7/2012

    " I really enjoyed this book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen Wayman | 1/27/2012

    " Julia Glass is one of the few writers whom I have read everyone of their books. I like her writing style and her books are consistently entertaining. I really liked the characters in this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dana | 5/18/2011

    " Loved the way Glass wrote this book. It could have been a story about practically anything and I still would have enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 cagey | 5/16/2011

    " I really struggled with this and the ending did not really pay off for me. However, because it was written by Julia Glass, it was still worth reading. If you are a Glass fan, then I could still recommend this. If you have never read Glass, then I suggest you start with Three Junes instead. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janette | 5/16/2011

    " Loved this one too! Didn't want it to end. Right up my alley as it delves into the complexity of relationships. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 4/30/2011

    " This was a slow moving story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 4/27/2011

    " Not what I expected, this book turned into a nicely written, complex tale, with the main character being a 70 year old retired librarian. As the story moves on, there are various characters introduced, and each character gets his/her chance to have their story told. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arlene | 4/26/2011

    " Definitely not as good as the Glass Castle, which I read some time ago. However, this was a decent read with a lot of good characterization. I enjoyed the interactions of this family and their ups and downs. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amber | 4/22/2011

    " Well written, but not as engaging as I was hoping for. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandra | 4/22/2011

    " I found this book to be a great read on two chilly, rainy days. The characters were clearly drawn, and
    the events were timely enough to be interesting. I was especially pleased with the ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 4/19/2011

    " Julia Glass is a "go to" author for me. I'm always satisfied. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Usha | 4/16/2011

    " It is a quick enjoyable read of a contemporary multi-generational story. Glass handles the different male protaganists views pretty well, and though I found the romance both glossed over and formulaic, I like her writing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pat | 4/15/2011

    " A typical Julia Glass novel, kind of trite but highly readable. This one has many intertwined storylines with social issues (illegals and ecoterrorists) and lots of family drama. I debated about the number of stars but I did keep reading and wanted to know what happened next. "

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About the Author
Author Julia Glass

Julia Glass is the author of several books, including Three Junes, which won the National Book Award for Fiction. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her short fiction has won several prizes, including the Tobias Wolff Award and the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society Medal for the Best Novella.

About the Narrator

Mark Bramhall has won thirty-four AudioFile Earphones Awards and has twice been a finalist for the Audiobook Publishers Association’s prestigious Audie Award for best narration. He has been named by Publishers Weekly and AudioFile magazine among their “Best Voices of the Year” in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. He is also an award-winning actor whose acting credits include off-Broadway, regional, and many Los Angeles venues as well as television, animation, and feature films. He has taught and directed at the American Academy of Dramatic Art.