Written by:
Jane Hamilton
Narrated by:
Robert Sean Leonard

Abridged Audiobook

Release Date
October 2000
5 hours 36 minutes
From Jane Hamilton, author of the beloved New York Times bestsellers A Map of the World and The Book of Ruth, comes a warmly humorous, poignant novel about a young man, his mother's e-mail, and the often surprising path of infidelity.

Henry Shaw, a high school senior, is about as comfortable with his family as any seventeen-year-old can be. His father, Kevin, teaches history with a decidedly socialist tinge at the Chicago private school Henry and his sister attend. His mother, Beth, who plays the piano in a group specializing in antique music, is a loving, attentive wife and parent. Henry even accepts the offbeat behavior of his thirteen-year-old sister, Elvira, who is obsessed with Civil War
reenactments and insists on dressing in handmade Union uniforms at inopportune times.

When he stumbles on his mother's e-mail account, however, Henry realizes that all is not as it seems. There, under the name Liza38, a name that Henry innocently established for her, is undeniable evidence that his mother is having an affair with one Richard Polloco, a violin maker and unlikely paramour who nonetheless has a very appealing way with words and a romantic spirit that, in Henry's estimation, his own father woefully lacks.

Against his better judgment, Henry charts the progress of his mother's infatuation, her feelings of euphoria, of guilt, and of profound, touching confusion. His knowledge of Beth's secret life colors his own tentative explorations of love and sex with the ephemeral Lily, and casts a new light on the arguments-usually focused on Elvira-in which his parents regularly indulge. Over the course of his final year of high school, Henry observes each member of the family, trying to anticipate when they will find out about the infidelity and what the knowledge will mean to each of them.

Henry's observations, set down ten years after that fateful year, are much more than the "old story" of adultery his mother deemed her affair to be. With her inimitable grace and compassion, Jane Hamilton has created a novel full of gentle humor and rich insights into the nature of love and the deep, mysterious bonds that hold families together.
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Kristina S.

Not my usual style, but a pretty enjoyable novel.

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The subject is difficult but it is told in such a way that it takes the edge off. I found myself laughing out loud at the views of the teenagers in the story. Henry makes no excuses for any member of his family and tells their stories in a completely unbiased way. Loved this book.

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Judy S

I loved this book! It is a teenagers view of his family's struggles, including his mother's affair - discovered via e-mail. As a mother of teenagers myself, I loved the idea of seeing the parents, friends, siblings and activities of the family through the son's eyes. A painful tale of the reality of a marriage, a family, and the longings of each individual which can be lost in the midst of it all.

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Thought this was quite believable and well done. Interesting concept for a story - a son discovering his sexulaity while discovering his mother's duplicity.

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I liked this book. It is subtle...and does a good job exploring complicated relationships in a unique and intelligent family. It would be difficult to compare this novel to any I have ever read before. Fresh and thoughtful, it would not be enjoyed by anyone looking for an "action" read.

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Dina Mac

A funny thing happened to me while I was listening to this book. I thought the main character was the author. When I finished, I looked at the author's name, and then remembered that it was Jane Hamilton. I was blown away. I really liked the book. It's slow at first, but you get into it, and you're hooked. Very well written. I'd definitely recommend it.

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The characters were not likeable and it was generally depressing.

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Cyndy W

I didn't care for this book. It was not at all what I expected it would be.

This title is due for release on October 17, 2000.

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