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Download Velva Jean Learns to Drive: A Novel Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Velva Jean Learns to Drive: A Novel Audiobook, by Jennifer Niven Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,806 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jennifer Niven Narrator: Jenna Lamia Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Velva Jean Series Release Date: July 2009 ISBN: 9781101140796
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Set in Appalachia in the years before World War II, Velva Jean Learns to Drive is a poignant story of a spirited young girl growing up in the gold-mining and moonshining South. Before she dies, Velva Jean’s mother urges her to “live out there in the great wide world.” Velva Jean dreams of becoming a big-time singer in Nashville until she falls in love with Harley Bright, a handsome juvenile delinquent turned revival preacher. As their tumultuous love story unfolds, Velva Jean must choose between keeping her hard-won home and pursuing her dream of singing in the Grand Ole Opry.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “It is not hard to enjoy the romance of images like the one that opens the book: a little girl, pondering questions of salvation, tucked up in bed under the tin roof of a narrow house, with the ‘high, lonesome cry’ of a panther in the background.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “It’s a touching read, funny and wise, like a crazy blend of Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, a less morose Flannery O’Connor and maybe a shot of Hank Williams.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • Selected for the August 2009 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Denise | 2/14/2014

    " Loved it! Especially if you like reading about life in the Appalachian mountains "back in the day." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katy Tate | 2/6/2014

    " Velva Jean Learns to Drive is filled with descriptive characters who live on the mountain top during the Depression era while the Blue Ridge Parkway project was just getting started. Velva Jean is a country girl with big dreams of escaping mountain life in North Carolina to go to the big city. She wants to go to Nashville and become a singer at the Grand Ole Opry. Through every twist and turn it seems that Velva Jean is forced to live her life as others expect rather than follow her dreams. This is a coming of age tale that follows Velva Jean through family troubles, loss, love, and hardship. I found this book to be a very heartfelt and endearing read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann | 1/23/2014

    " would've been 3-1/2 but the ending redeemed it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 1/18/2014

    " Velva Jean is such a fascinating character, but the story seemed to be too drawn out. If it would have moved along at a faster pace, I would have enjoyed it a bit more. I don't know if I'll read the second book, but the third one sounds fascinating. Maybe I'll skim the second one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pat | 1/14/2014

    " Velva Jean is a wonderful character, and so are the other people in her life. It was fun watching her come into herself - a feisty, determined and confident young woman. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 1/13/2014

    " Beautifully written book that made me reflect a lot on my own life and choices. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen | 1/12/2014

    " Deeelightful!!! I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the story, and the energy of this book. You get completely swept up in Velva Jean and her life as it unfolds. Colorful, interesting characters at every turn, and a story that keeps the pages turning until the end. Will definitely recommend and looking forward to the next chapter in Velva Jean's life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Louan | 1/4/2014

    " Loved this book. It was of the same ilk as The Secret Life of Bees. It's always fun to read a good story set in Appalachia. Enjoyed Velva Jean's relationship with Johnny Clay, her brave interest in the wood carver and her wonderful dream to go to Nashville. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fabienne Bogle | 1/3/2014

    " A book that spoke to me on many different levels! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather Letalien Costa | 1/3/2014

    " Good hearty book. No major climatic events but a good ole book none the less. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deanna | 12/29/2013

    " One of those books that makes you want to do more with your life. Liked it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 12/14/2013

    " So, SO loved this book, what a wonderful read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christina | 12/12/2013

    " An uplifting tale that offers some lessons. The one that rang true for me is to never focus energy on running away from something but to focus on running TO something. In other words, don't let your fears take over and keep you from your goals. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meg | 12/2/2013

    " I liked this book for what it was, at least to me. It was a coming of age story about getting to know yourself, your dreams, and just what your capable of doing if your just willing to keep trying. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 11/29/2013

    " I read this for a book club. It grew on me as I read along. Would probably really give it 3.5 stars. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann | 10/8/2013

    " This was a fun coming-of-age story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Helen | 8/31/2013

    " One of those strong women books that makes you want to cheer!! I would love to be more like Velva Jean but so happy I never had to do so much with so little help from anyone. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 kate | 8/28/2013

    " I loved the mood and tone the author created--rural Appalachia during the depression years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shawnnita | 11/17/2012

    " I really loved this book although I found it had a lot of religious references. I liked this book though because it reminded me of the warmth of "mountain people" "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurie | 11/11/2012

    " This was great. Fast passed, historical apalachian, emotional. I "listened" as an audiobook, and it was great! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sally | 9/29/2012

    " You will fall in love with Velma Jean! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marilyn | 8/26/2012

    " The story is about Velva growing up in the mountains. She has some challenges that shape her as a young lady. There were a couple of time the language bothered me and I worried about what I might read. It all worked out. Velva Jean is very likable and I hope we all can learn to drive. . . "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Charlotte | 7/28/2012

    " Wow! I loved this book. Velva Jean is amazing. All the characters just come to life. Beautiful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Glenna | 7/6/2012

    " Wonderful coming of age story. Not a lot of excitement but loved it anyway. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura | 12/31/2011

    " Another airport bookshop purchase--enjoyable and engaging. Good plane fluff. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nancy | 8/25/2011

    " I don't know why but it took me awhile to get through this book. Just wasn't a big page turner but I liked it "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christina | 5/15/2011

    " An uplifting tale that offers some lessons. The one that rang true for me is to never focus energy on running away from something but to focus on running TO something. In other words, don't let your fears take over and keep you from your goals. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fabienne | 5/13/2011

    " A book that spoke to me on many different levels! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 5/10/2011

    " Excellent story. A little slow at times and I'm not yet sure how I feel about the ending but it was a really good read. It had clean language and was very appropriate in regards to morality (both important to me when reading a book).
    I would definitely recommend this book to others. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Roz | 5/8/2011

    " Captures the Appalachian voice, sense of place and time, and beautifully written. I think this is her first novel, and there were a few first-novelish gaps and lacks in the story, but I loved every single word of this book.
    "

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

    " Best book I've read in a very long time. It's a coming of age, quest, awakening novel. Velva grows up and deals with death, love, religion, family in 1930s, 1940s NC mountains. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 3/29/2011

    " I fell in love with the characters. So well written. One of my favorites. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alison | 3/13/2011

    " This was pretty good. I stuck with it to the end! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurie | 3/6/2011

    " This was great. Fast passed, historical apalachian, emotional. I "listened" as an audiobook, and it was great! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann | 2/25/2011

    " would've been 3-1/2 but the ending redeemed it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Megan | 2/24/2011

    " This book was just okay. I didn't like how churchy at times it could be and at the end of the day, I just didn't sh*t about the characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rosanne | 1/25/2011

    " A kind of strange book, a first novel, but I felt compeeled to keep reading and complete it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 1/21/2011

    " I really enjoyed this book and adored the main character. the author did such a good job of describing the music, I could almost hear it. anyone who loves music or who has been moved by a song will relate to Velva Jean and her story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 EA | 1/12/2011

    " I am truly shocked that so many people like this book. It starts slow and never really picks up. It was fairly unrewarding and generally not special. It is not poorly written, but also not my cup of tea. "

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About the Author
Author Jennifer Niven

Jennifer Niven’s first book, The Ice Master, was named one of the top ten nonfiction books of the year in 2000 by Entertainment Weekly. A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writer, she has ten different publishers in ten separate countries, and The Ice Master has been translated into eight languages. Jennifer and her work have appeared in Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Talk, Glamour, the New Yorker, Outside, the New York Times Book Review, the London Daily Mail, the London Times, and Writer’s Digest, among others. Dateline NBC, the Discovery Channel, and the History Channel have featured The Ice Master in hour-long documentaries, and it has been the subject of numerous German, Canadian, and British television programs.

About the Narrator

Jenna Lamia is an actress and award-winning audiobook narrator. She has won the prestigious Audie Award, as well as more than a dozen AudioFile Earphones Awards. Her acting credits include appearances on Oz, Law & Order: SVU, and NYPD Blue. She has attended Amherst College, New York University, and the Sorbonne in Paris.