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Extended Audio Sample Villages Audiobook, by John Updike Click for printable size audiobook cover
2.93 out of 52.93 out of 52.93 out of 52.93 out of 52.93 out of 5 2.93 (27 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Updike Narrator: Edward Herrmann Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2004 ISBN: 9780739315439
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John Updike’s twenty-first novel, a bildungsroman, follows its hero, Owen Mackenzie, from his birth in the semi-rural Pennsylvania town of Willow to his retirement in the rather geriatric community of Haskells Crossing, Massachusetts. In between these two settlements comes Middle Falls, Connecticut, where Owen, an early computer programmer, founds with a partner, Ed Mervine, the successful firm of E-O Data, which is housed in an old gun factory on the Chunkaunkabaug River. Owen’s education (Bildung) is not merely technical but liberal, as the humanity of his three villages, especially that of their female citizens, works to disengage him from his youthful innocence. As a child he early felt an abyss of calamity beneath the sunny surface quotidian, yet also had a dreamlike sense of leading a charmed existence. The women of his life, including his wives, Phyllis and Julia, shed what light they can. At one juncture he reflects, “How lovely she is, naked in the dark! How little men deserve the beauty and mercy of women!” His life as a sexual being merges with the communal shelter of villages: “A village is woven of secrets, of truths better left unstated, of houses with less window than opaque wall.”

This delightful, witty, passionate novel runs from the Depression era to the early twenty-first century. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Voluptuously pleasurable.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “The insights are sharp, the prose lyrical, and the rewards to the reader abundant.”

    St. Louis Post Dispatch

  • “Updike mines familiar ground for new delights.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “As powerful as anything to be found in Updike…Full of pointed, humorous, and occasionally acerbic remarks on contemporary life.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Updike’s sense of language, style, and setting are as remarkable as ever.”

    Richmond Times-Dispatch

  • “Eloquent, erotic…A gorgeous geography of desire.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “With this elegant…novel, Updike proves once again that no one knows these secret villages better than he.”

    Rocky Mountain News

  • “Updike demonstrates why he is our preeminent chronicler of middle-class immorality…[His] writing captures that sweet substance in the mad acts of man, and spreads it like a balm upon our morality.”

    Winston-Salem Journal

  • “Perceptive as usual…and cut through with lovely prose.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Updike in top form, every sentence a marvel of insight and imagery…Wise and elegiac and warmed by the sense of reconciliation with the most vexatious elements of Updike’s fiction: women and sex.”

    People

  • “One of the finest, most sensuous writers to have emerged anywhere, at any time. Updike’s understanding of what it means to be human and alive is without equal.”

    Irish Times

  • One of the 2004 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2005 Paterson Fiction Prize

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Manish | 2/11/2014

    " 'Villages' traces the life of a Computer Engineer from his childhood in rural Pennsylvania, college at MIT, entrepreneurship at Connecticut and finally retirement - all along analysing his sexual trysts with the various women he encounters. Being my first novel of Updike, the book was a revelation. His sharp analysis and the boyish wonder with which he treats the whole idea and act of sex, made this book worthwhile. At a deeper level, the book is also a mirror to the transitions that the American society underwent from the end of the Depression and through the turbulent decades of the 60's and the 70's. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Christine | 1/28/2014

    " I tried hard to get into this book. I love Updike and really wanted to get into this story. Problem was that 4 chapters in I still wasn't sure where the story was going and I didn't like any characters enough to care. I actually sold this one to the used bookstore unfinished - something very unlike me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jerome | 1/20/2014

    " I found this book a bit of a disappointment. Too dismembered and jumbled. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jessica | 1/20/2014

    " The storyline just progressed too slowly for me. Plus I didn't like to see the blatant disregard for the sacrosanct of marriage and the whimsical and the laissez-faire attitude of infidelity. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jess Brandes | 1/7/2014

    " Total yawner. NEXT! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jamie Deal | 1/5/2014

    " DIRRTTTYYY! But extraordinarily well written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cissy | 12/30/2013

    " I ended up really liking this book once I got to the part where Owen realizes that leaving his wife is the first adult decision he's made in his life. This struck a resounding chord with me. From that point on, I found Villages to be quite profound and touching. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Evan | 12/6/2013

    " too much like updike "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lindsay | 12/1/2013

    " Updike totally falls short. Major disaster! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joann | 11/11/2013

    " Oh well, since Updike is not one of my favorites what did I expect? His fixation on sex is ultimately boring and his protagonist (himself?) is, at the end of all the philandering and marital changes about in the same spot he was in the beginning. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Fruchtfleisch | 9/6/2013

    " Dieses buch habe ich night ausgehalten und abgebrochen... Fades beziehungsgefasel "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carina | 4/2/2013

    " Why isn't 3.75 stars an option? Like an Anne Tyler novel about sex written in the style of Virginia Woolf. This is my first John Updike book - I would definitely read another. "

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

    " Brilliant passages but a repetitive plot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deborah | 12/13/2012

    " This was an enjoyable read. It is the first Updike I've read, the only one in our library. I hope to get some more of his work. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Graf | 8/18/2012

    " Played out in the villages of Connecticut, this story follows a software engineer during the early days of commercial computing and his quest for fulfilling sex. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann | 3/31/2012

    " Updike at his best - witty, graphic, and finally compassionate "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lois | 2/14/2012

    " Quite a saucy read, very unexpected. Cements him as my favorite American writer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew | 1/1/2012

    " Updike could make taking a piss sound beautiful. Enough said. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Christie Alexander Paxton | 9/8/2011

    " I'm thinking this should have been categorized as "erotica" at my library...a very long,wordy,descriptive novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynne | 5/12/2011

    " I was a little bored with this book and it took me much longer to get through it than I expected "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mosath | 2/9/2011

    " A good novel, interesting scenes about american society and informatics' subjects.
    The characters are, in general, weak, in their progresses. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joanna | 6/28/2010

    " Brilliant passages but a repetitive plot. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bcoghill | 1/26/2010

    " I read my way a thru a third of the books but did not really care so much about the sex life of the lead character - which is pretty much the book. Updike does write great observations on our society. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cissy | 9/24/2009

    " I ended up really liking this book once I got to the part where Owen realizes that leaving his wife is the first adult decision he's made in his life. This struck a resounding chord with me. From that point on, I found Villages to be quite profound and touching. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carina | 4/13/2009

    " Why isn't 3.75 stars an option? Like an Anne Tyler novel about sex written in the style of Virginia Woolf. This is my first John Updike book - I would definitely read another. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dona | 2/12/2009

    " Cover almost turned me away but did read it; very and often too descriptive. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jerome | 2/7/2009

    " I found this book a bit of a disappointment. Too dismembered and jumbled. "

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About the Author
Author John Updike

John Updike (1932–2009) was the author of more than sixty books, including collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His novels have been honored with two Pulitzer Prize Awards, the National Book Award, and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Hugging the Shore, a collection of essays and reviews, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.

About the Narrator

Edward Herrmann (1943–2014) was one of America’s top audiobook narrators. He won multiple Earphones and Audie Awards, and his narration of the King James version of the Bible remains a benchmark in the industry.