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Until I Find You: A Novel

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: John Irving

Narrated By: Arthur Morey

Publisher: Random House (Audio)

Date: April 2006

Duration: 35 hours 5 minutes


Until I Find You is the story of the actor Jack Burns – his life, loves, celebrity and astonishing search for the truth about his parents.

When he is four years old, Jack travels with his mother Alice, a tattoo artist, to several North Sea ports in search of his father, William Burns. From Copenhagen to Amsterdam, William, a brilliant church organist and profligate womanizer, is always a step ahead – has always just departed in a wave of scandal, with a new tattoo somewhere on his body from a local master or “scratcher.”

Alice and Jack abandon their quest, and Jack is educated at schools in Canada and New England – including, tellingly, a girls’ school in Toronto. His real education consists of his relationships with older women – from Emma Oastler, who initiates him into erotic life, to the girls of St. Hilda’s, with whom he first appears on stage, to the abusive Mrs. Machado, whom he first meets when sent to learn wrestling at a local gym.

Too much happens in this expansive, eventful novel to possibly summarize it all. Emma and Jack move to Los Angeles, where Emma becomes a successful novelist and Jack a promising actor. A host of eccentric minor characters memorably come and go, including Jack’s hilariously confused teacher the Wurtz; Michelle Maher, the girlfriend he will never forget; and a precocious child Jack finds in the back of an Audi in a restaurant parking lot. We learn about tattoo addiction and movie cross-dressing, “sleeping in the needles” and the cure for cauliflower ears. And John Irving renders his protagonist’s unusual rise through Hollywood with the same vivid detail and range of emotions he gives to the organ music Jack hears as a child in European churches. This is an absorbing and moving book about obsession and loss, truth and storytelling, the signs we carry on us and inside us, the traces we can’t get rid of.

Jack has always lived in the shadow of his absent father. But as he grows older – and when his mother dies – he starts to doubt the portrait of his father’s character she painted for him when he was a child. This is the cue for a second journey around Europe in search of his father, from Edinburgh to Switzerland, towards a conclusion of great emotional force.

A melancholy tale of deception, Until I Find You is also a swaggering comic novel, a giant tapestry of life’s hopes. It is a masterpiece to compare with John Irving’s great novels, and restates the author’s claim to be considered the most glorious, comic, moving novelist at work today.


  • Elisabeth Wang

    As stated before, this is for John Irving fans. This one is very dark and you have to get through some pretty disturbing child molestation scenes told from the child's perspective who doesn't realize what is happening is wrong. Complexity of characters is great - typical for Irving. And, of course the story line is unpredictable.

  • Sandy Cooper

    This was an interesting story, It kept my attention. There were turns in the story that were unexpected. It is a sad story of a man growing up and learning to deal with his childhood, for all the good and bad. The only thing about the book that I would put on the negative side is that there were many sub stories in the form of books and screenplays that I did not see as necessary, making the book very long. (I believe that the total of CD time is somewhere around 30 hours)

  • Anonymous

    Well, I'm glad I stuck with all twenty-eight discs, but I certainly agree with one of the other reviewers. You have to be a John Irving fan to appreciate this....and the reader WAS supurb!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Hilarious, as usual, John Irving is a genious. Emma's character is infectious, can't get enough of her attitude.

  • Renee Locks

    Not my favorite but well-read and kept me interested.

  • Angelika Teal

    Overall the book was okay and good to listen to. The reader was really excellent. As for the book itself, I liked it, because I have read all of John Irvings books and like his macabre dark (noir) story-telling. This book was more challenging. The first part was simply heart-breaking with the child molestation, abuse and neglect. It got better after that but never lost the sad and melancholic undertone. This book does not have the humor some other J. Irving books had, which make some of the terrible events more bearable. And typically, just when things finally turn out well and the main character finds (relative) happiness, the book abruptly ends. It would have been nice to find out more about the happy times in Jack Burns life, who fortunately despite a childhood which would have geared anyone else towards a career as a serial murderer, turned out to become a famous actor. Even though he has no common sense and goes through the story as a blundering idiot.

Until I Find You: A Novel

by John Irving

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Until I Find You: A Novel, John Irving
Until I Find You: A Novel, John Irving
This title is due for release on April 18, 2006.

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This title is due for release on April 18, 2006
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