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Extended Audio Sample While I Was Gone: A Novel Audiobook, by Sue Miller Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (26,108 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sue Miller Narrator: Blair Brown Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2000 ISBN: 9780375417320
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A decade ago she put a face on every mother’s worst nightmare with her phenomenal bestseller The Good Mother. Now, Sue Miller delivers a spellbinding novel of love and betrayal that explores what it means to be a good wife.

In the summer of 1968, Jo Becker ran out on the marriage and the life her parents wanted for her, and escaped—for one beautiful, idyllic year—into a life that was bohemian and romantic, living under an assumed name in a rambling group house in Cambridge. It was a time of limitless possibility, but it ended in a single instant when Jo returned home one night to find her best friend lying dead in a pool of blood on the living room floor.

Now Jo has everything she’s ever wanted: a veterinary practice she loves, a devoted husband, three grown daughters, a beautiful Massachusetts farmhouse. And if occasionally she feels a stranger to herself and wonders what happened to the freedom she once felt, or how she came to be the wife, mother, and doctor her neighbors know and trust—if at times she feels as if her whole life is vanishing behind her as she’s living it—she need only look at her daughters or her husband, Daniel, to recall the satisfactions of family and community and marriage.

But when an old housemate settles in her small town, the fabric of Jo’s life begins to unravel: seduced again by the enticing possibility of another self and another life, she begins a dangerous flirtation that returns her to the darkest moment of her past and imperils all she loves.

While I Was Gone is an exquisitely suspenseful novel about how quickly and casually a marriage can be destroyed, how a good wife can find herself placing all she holds dear at risk. In expert strokes, Sue Miller captures the precariousness of even the strongest ties, the ease with which we abandon each other, and our need to be forgiven. An extraordinary book, her best, from a beloved American writer.

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Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jenny Pfaff | 2/12/2014

    " Not what I was expecting at all. Very disappointed in the ending. Very wordy book and did not like the main character. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Melinda Halbreich | 2/12/2014

    " Tries to come across as more substantial than it really is...starts off well but ends up as a trite romance novel-ish type of read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nancy | 2/8/2014

    " I read this book for a book club. I probably would not have finished it otherwise. The main character is needy and self indulgent. She spends an inordinate amount of time analyzing conversations, looks, gestures, expressions, and on and on in a pointless search for deeper meaning in plain, ordinary, everyday events. She has a nice life and she's hell bent on ruining it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy Carbajal | 2/5/2014

    " Wow!! I love this writers style. Jo has a life as a vetranarian, a minister husband and three grown daughters....and shes at the point of her life where the nest is empty and she keeps thinking back to a devastating moment she had in her twenties during the 60s. Then a house member from that time enters her life and starts things in motion that she may end up to regret, along with a monumentous revelation that lead her to make choices she'll come to regret...but Jo was prime for this to happen, it seems to be what she does best in life. Very powerful novel. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Marian | 1/17/2014

    " Just OK book. Very slow moving; the author bounced around too much and spent too long describing phases of characters life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Denidevine | 1/11/2014

    " After I read this I went to read everything ue Miller has written.... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Felisa | 1/7/2014

    " This was a quick read, but entertaining enough. I got a little frustrated with the main character a bit, but you'll have that every now and then. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dana | 12/31/2013

    " I struggled through this book. Very slow moving. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jayne Charles | 12/31/2013

    " This was an immaculately well written account of a family in sudden and unexpected crisis. The author's style makes it clear that she knows her characters inside out, and she is not afraid to give them personality time, away from the main plot, to allow them to develop. She was also brave enough to give away the story's main 'secret' with a good third of the book still to go. This could have led to the whole thing going a bit flat, but it's a mark of the author's skill that it stayed interesting. This is the first I have read by Sue Miller but would definitely read more. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Merrick | 12/30/2013

    " I hated this book. I despised the main character. It was a complete waste of my time "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim Serediak | 12/28/2013

    " A solid 7/10. Good beginning, bogged down somewhere in the middle, then 2 good twists. However, the ending left me a little unsatisfied. As for characters, I didn't really like Jo, but maybe that is an indication that she was well developed - as unlikeable ? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cecilia | 11/11/2013

    " I give this book 3 1/2 stars. It was a page turner. Very Dark! Not really keen on any of the characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Miquela | 11/11/2013

    " Perfect "summer read" - not much to talk about but it is a page turner and I found myself looking forward to the story everynight when I opened up the book. More interesting mother/daughter relationships. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tina | 11/8/2013

    " I bought this because of the Oprah Book Club endorsement. Without all the extra junk the author randomly talks about, this book could easily boil down to 3 good chapters. It does have an interesting twist, but you have to skim -- fast -- to get to it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Camilla Whitright | 11/6/2013

    " Read this a few years ago. My book club read it. Good one "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Marie | 11/6/2013

    " This is too much of the 60's lifestyle, too much "me" stuff, and too much of a waste of my time! I can't bring myself to finish reading it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ali Goldner | 9/3/2013

    " Refreshingly, the characters are flawed to the point of seeming quite real and ordinary. This was a well told story centered around secrets, betrayal and forgiveness, and I stayed engaged throughout, wanting to know what was going to happen next. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jean | 7/26/2013

    " Second book I've read by this author, and I won't likely read any others. Both stories were fairly interesting, but no redeeming, very likeable characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary R. | 7/7/2013

    " It's been awhile but I remember the feeling of seeking out a book after having read a review and, rather than being disappointed (as I often am) feeling rewarded, lucky at the depth and breadth and emotion of this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynsey | 6/24/2013

    " Tale about a middle-aged woman's wild past catching up to her. She never stops wondering how she ended up living such an ordinary life. Intriguing at times, but at times she seems too self-absorbed, and I wanted to shake her and say "be thankful for your happy life and kind husband!" "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Shannon | 5/8/2013

    " Incredibly boring with unsympathetic characters. Very slow pace. I would not have read as far as I did if we had another computer in our house. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carrie | 1/7/2013

    " This was pretty good; easy, fast read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 10/7/2012

    " Interesting read, although I was always waiting for SOMETHING to happen. While the ending was "correct" it was also disappointing, but that's the way life is sometimes. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rachel | 9/25/2012

    " Enjoyed it. Would read more of Miller's work. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim | 6/7/2012

    " A different book then I usually read. It was ok. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Esther Marie | 3/27/2012

    " Very boring and not at all worth the time. It's always sad when an Oprah book is so disappointingly awful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lindsay | 3/19/2012

    " Kind of a sad book I have to say. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Evan Kearns | 12/23/2011

    " just ok, kept my attention but predictable at times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 MarBear Blackburn | 12/2/2011

    " One of my very favorite Oprah books. A very suspenseful novel. "

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

    " This was an Oprah recommendation and was just okay for me. It was one of those books that you just keep waiting for something to happen but it never does. It had it's moments of interesting events but just was not that interesting. I wouldn't recommend spending any time with this book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tara Smith | 5/24/2011

    " What a mistake. Can't believe I wasted my time with this one. Had to FORCE myself to finish it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Labmom | 5/18/2011

    " I know better than to read a book that was on Oprah's list. Tedious, completely predictable plot, full of unnecessary prosaic passages (which makes for quick reading because I can skim the long, boring parts about doing chores or going to church) and unlikeable, underdeveloped characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tori | 4/26/2011

    " Ok book. I had a hard time investing in, or even liking, the main character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kendra | 4/21/2011

    " I read this a long time ago but recall being captivated. Engaging story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jo | 4/18/2011

    " This book is definitely low on action. I found Joey to be self-indulgent and a little pathetic and couldn't identify with her at all. I didn't develop much feeling for anybody in the book come to think of it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara | 4/13/2011

    " I got very involved with the characters. I felt like i was in the book. It also poses an intriguing moral dilemna for the main character. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tina | 3/31/2011

    " I bought this because of the Oprah Book Club endorsement. Without all the extra junk the author randomly talks about, this book could easily boil down to 3 good chapters. It does have an interesting twist, but you have to skim -- fast -- to get to it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michelle | 3/28/2011

    " I'm not in a book reviewing mood. This was just OK. You are welcome. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alanna | 3/12/2011

    " I listened to this one on tape. I had a tough time getting through it, thinking about quitting several times. Characters were not very likable. Poorly developed relationships. Rather abrupt ending. I've liked many Oprah Book Club reads but this was unfortunately not one of them. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pamela | 3/7/2011

    " This is one of those books you cannot put down. Because much of it takes place in and around Boston, it was more interesting to me. It was unsettling - a murder finally solved in a very unexpected way. Explores why people lie - everyone does - still no answers for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 2/26/2011

    " Read twice for book club. Inspired very good discussions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patty | 2/21/2011

    " I couldn't decide between three or four stars. Some parts of this book I liked, some parts didn't make sense. Overall a good book. No real surprises, but interesting "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dawn | 2/19/2011

    " Oddly familiar not because I had read it before but because I had lived/experienced/shared many of her words..... "

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About the Author
Author Sue Miller

Sue Miller is the bestselling author of the novels Lost in the Forest, The World Below, While I Was Gone, The Distinguished Guest, For Love, Family Pictures, and The Good Mother; the story collection Inventing the Abbotts; and the memoir The Story of My Father. She lives in Boston.

About the Narrator

Blair Brown is a Tony Award–winning actor. Her best known role is Nina Sharp from the television series Fringe. She prepares for recording audiobooks the same way she does for her other roles: by reading the text three times.