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Extended Audio Sample White Picket Fences: A Novel Audiobook, by Susan Meissner Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (326 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Susan Meissner Narrator: Bernadette Dunne Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2009 ISBN: 9780307702340
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When her black sheep brother disappears, Amanda Janvier eagerly takes in her sixteen year-old niece Tally. The girl is practically an orphan: motherless, and living with a father who raises Tally wherever he lands– in a Buick, a pizza joint, a horse farm–and regularly takes off on wild schemes. Amanda envisions that she, her husband Neil, and their two teenagers can offer the girl stability and a shot at a “normal” life, even though their own storybook lives are about to crumble.

Seventeen-year-old Chase Janvier hasn’t seen his cousin in years, and other than a vague curiosity about her strange life, he doesn’t expect her arrival will affect him much–or interfere with his growing, disturbing interest in a long-ago house fire that plagues his dreams unbeknownst to anyone else.

Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.

Will Tally’s presence blow apart their carefully-constructed world, knocking down the illusion of the white picket fence and reveal a hidden past that could destroy them all–or can she help them find the truth without losing each other?


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Quotes & Awards

  • To step into a Susan Meissner book is to be blessed by a craftsman’s tender touch. In Susan’s hands, we move carefully into compassion, entering the ordinary lives of people who could be our neighbors, ourselves, each doing what we can to staunch the pain of memory. This book opens a gate in the white picket fences of our lives, helping transform memory and secrets so we are no longer held hostage by the past. Beautifully written by a keen observer of the human condition, White Picket Fence will keep you reading into the night and make you sigh with satisfaction at the end. Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of A Flickering Light
  • “This compelling story with its wonderful cast of characters offers hope to all of us who live less than perfect lives behind our white picket fences. Susan Meissner skillfully weaves together parallel storylines to show how healing can come when we risk sharing our secret pain with others. Lynn Austin, author of Until We Reach Home
  • Susan Meissner just keeps getting better and better. This novel is a deftly woven portrayal of family and friendships, of secrets and sacrifices, one that tiptoes beyond the white picket fence to look at what happens when people stop talking to each other. Siri Mitchell, author of Love’s Pursuit
  • Poetic prose and a ‘can’t-put-it down’ plot make White Picket Fences a great read. A thought-provoking look into a dysfunctional family that thinks it is functional and how an outsider can serve as a means of grace. Caution: be ready to lose a few hours of sleep! Elizabeth Musser, missionary and author of The Swan House, The Dwelling Place, Searching for Eternity and Words Unspoken
  • White Picket Fences is a beautiful, yet haunting portrayal of what lies beneath a seemingly perfect suburban family. Susan Meissner’s powerful storytelling woos the reader into the lives of flawed, needy characters, making us ache with them, rejoice with them. Meissner deftly weaves old and new, producing a seamless, satisfying and enduring story. Mary DeMuth, author of Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn
  • Writing as incandescent as pure flame. Susan Meissner delivers again with a family story that wraps you up and stays with you long after the last page. James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Deceived and Try Fear
  • I loved looking into the heart of this family whose life looks perfect only from the outside. Meissner’s characters are so real, so haunted by the past, and so in denial for reasons of self-defense that you will be swept away till the final page. You’ll find it hard not to wonder, as one of the elderly characters did, if remembering is a choice that takes courage. Julie L. Cannon, author of Truleove & Homegrown Tomatoes, ’Mater Biscuit, Those Pearly Gates, and The Romance Readers’ Book Club

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Judith | 1/25/2014

    " The book has a good message at the end. It incorporates characters who experienced life in a concentration camp and wove the lives of two families together. The weaving was slow. It gives us the name of an angel of mercy and a website to review. "

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

    " Loved it, somewhat Christian fiction, but very engaging, got it done in one day! :) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nicole | 12/11/2013

    " Would've gone with four stars if the ending hadn't included such an easy way out regarding the son's storyline. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stefanie | 12/11/2013

    " This book was fantastic. I appreciated the multiple plots, especially the WWII element. It was pretty predictable, but I was really needing that at the time I read this book. It filled that void for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 12/1/2013

    " Very good. I haven't read any by this Author, and really enjoyed this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 L Miller | 11/1/2013

    " Another outstanding Meissner examination of families and presumptions and secrets and histories.... The relationship between Tally and her cousin was the most compelling. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 10/6/2013

    " Good . "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah Sundin | 9/25/2013

    " Meissner once again skillfully weaves together contemporary and historical storylines. Her characters are complex and engaging, and her writing is beautiful. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denice | 9/8/2013

    " Susan Meissner is now on my "must read everything she writes" list. The ending of this book felt too contrived for me but overall it was agood story, with good writing and gave me much to think about in my own life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynn | 5/19/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book, the contemporary story mixed with the impacts of the Shoah was very well done! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becky Carrell | 10/19/2012

    " Interesting and deep in places, but not one I want to read over and over. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharon | 9/2/2012

    " While I liked this book, it was not the page turner that "The Shape of Mercy" was. I hope I'll find that some of her other books are a bit more engaging. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Monica | 2/25/2012

    " enjoyed this book, the author kept things tense, and delved deep into feelings of several characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 L | 2/18/2012

    " A teenager with a wandering Dad, taken in by his sister, learns about family secrets and how they have held the entire family captive. There are some poignant stories about Holocaust experiences that two men in a nursing home relate that help the family to face their past. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gina | 11/21/2011

    " A story about a family who appears perfect on the outside, but as usually the case, has their own secrets and demons. A good book, but seemed predictable with a plot line that seemed familiar-as if I've read it already in some other book. "

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

    " I don't know what age group this was written for, probably young adult. But it really kept my interest. Read it for hours and never realized how much time had passed. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marilyn | 2/20/2011

    " It was too predictable. I don't know if I can say I read the book. I skimmed the book after about three chapters. I wanted to know if I was right about the ending. And I was. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jill | 1/30/2011

    " so far i have really liked everything by this author. Will be searching for more of her books "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denice | 1/4/2011

    " Susan Meissner is now on my "must read everything she writes" list. The ending of this book felt too contrived for me but overall it was agood story, with good writing and gave me much to think about in my own life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 12/22/2010

    " Meissner once again skillfully weaves together contemporary and historical storylines. Her characters are complex and engaging, and her writing is beautiful. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marilyn | 6/17/2010

    " It was too predictable. I don't know if I can say I read the book. I skimmed the book after about three chapters. I wanted to know if I was right about the ending. And I was. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stefanie | 4/4/2010

    " This book was fantastic. I appreciated the multiple plots, especially the WWII element. It was pretty predictable, but I was really needing that at the time I read this book. It filled that void for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 L | 3/10/2010

    " Another outstanding Meissner examination of families and presumptions and secrets and histories.... The relationship between Tally and her cousin was the most compelling. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Judith | 2/11/2010

    " The book has a good message at the end. It incorporates characters who experienced life in a concentration camp and wove the lives of two families together. The weaving was slow. It gives us the name of an angel of mercy and a website to review. "

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About the Author
Author Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner is a former managing editor of a weekly newspaper and an award-winning columnist. She has published over a dozen novels, including A Fall of Marigolds, The Shape of Mercy, Lady in Waiting, and A Sound among the Trees. She majored in education at Point Loma College in San Diego.

About the Narrator

Bernadette Dunne is the winner of seventeen AudioFile Earphones Awards and has twice been nominated for the prestigious Audie Award. She studied at the Royal National Theatre in London and the Studio Theater in Washington, DC, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center and off Broadway. She lives in Brooklyn.