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Download Villages Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Villages, by John Updike Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (552 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:
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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!


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.”


  • “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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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