The Year of Magical Thinking

Written by:
Joan Didion
Narrated by:
Barbara Caruso

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
October 2005
5 hours 12 minutes
Didion's journalistic skills are displayed as never before in this story of a year in her life that began with her daughter in a medically induced coma and her husband unexpectedly dead due to a heart attack.

This powerful and moving work is Didion's 'attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness, about marriage and children and memory, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.'

With vulnerability and passion, Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience of love and loss. The Year Of Magical Thinking will speak directly to anyone who has ever loved a husband, wife, or child.
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Beverly Taylor

Wow...nothing lighthearted or uplifting here. But Joan Didion emerses you in her very private journey through a grief-filled year. I was in a bit of a meloncholic state after finishing the book, but in strange way, felt better off having read it.

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Nicole S.

As a writer-turned-editor, this book has inspired me to write again. Didion's use of repetition is masterful. And the reader (I have to remember to look up who that was) was a perfect match. I've debated whether to recommend people read the book or listen to the audiotape. I was clearly moved by the audio experience...but I just went out and bought the book so I can experience it in that way, and go back and refer to especially poignant passages. To the person on this site who said it was too impersonal...she clearly was doing the laundry or something while listening and wasn't paying attention. You don't have to read someone's resume to know who they are. In Didion's writing, she reveals personalities through stories, through memories...images of John reading the paper, his lists, their travels, gardenia trapped in the pool filter. This book is amazing.

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Warren Boroson

A masterpiece. A novelist details the events during the awful year that her husband and her daughter died. So harrowing, I had to turn off the CD occasionally. But the book did what good books should do: Make you feel that you yourself lived through the experience and learned from it. This is a book that will be read by people far into the future.

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great novel. classic from start to finish. highly recommended

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This is a good chronicle of grief, mixed in this case with the trauma of watching a daughter come very close to death. The loss of her husband and near loss of her daughter at the same time gave Didion a lot of material about which to write. In her usual form, however, it is all about the author, who takes herself very, very seriously.

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While I found this book to be sad, it resonated with me since I recently lost a young niece. I often wonder how her mother is handling the loss because she hides her feelings. This memoir seemed open and honest; I enjoyed it.

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This was an incredibly difficult book to listen to, but well worth sticking it out through the most difficult parts. The things that make life meaningful - love, partnership, family, children - are also the things that when lost, make life not worth living. I really respect Ms. Didion for writing this book, and I greatly admire her ability to really engage the reader in her very private experience without making it self-indulgent.

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This is a very well written story. It was very insightful to hear what Joan Didion went through when her life was taken over by events beyond her control. I have never read anyone else who allowed us such intimate passage into their experiences involving the death of a loved one.

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Mel Davis

I really regret listening to this audiobook. I should have READ this book. It is too intimate and personal to experience it in this passive way. Reading it, I would have been more actively engaged in the story and it is how Didion intended for us to experience it.Listening to the story somehow seems...disrespectful. I have heard Didion speak before and this narrator, although I'm sure tried to do a good job, was more annoying than effective, inserting emotion wherever she wanted. Offering up "matter of facts" and coy humor, in her intonations when I felt it was not needed or called for. And the music! Very bad taste.

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I really loved the narrator, but the story was really boring and kind of depressing. I was glad when it ended. I always listen all the way through just in case I might miss a great story, but this one wasn't worth the time.

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Deborah Martinson

This is an excellent book; it is more musing than straight-forward, more philosophy than memoir. Yet the memories of a life shared through Didion's writing educate, teach, and touch the reader.

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Beth Thompson

I really enjoyed listening to this book. Joan Didion's words were honest and forthright about her experience in the grieving world. This is the first book that I have read by this author, and I enjoyed hearing about her writing life with her husband, as well as her research about grief. The book is quiet and thoughtful and provides a snapshot into one woman's life, and into a world that all of us will experience at one time or another.

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This was a powerful book and beautifully presented by the reader. I find myself thinking about it a great deal since I finished listening to it. I would not, however, recommend this for anyone who has recently experienced a death of someone close to them as it might be too hard for them emotionally.

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I found this to be a beautiful, thought provoking book. We all have random thoughts and memories, but Ms. Didion captured hers so brillantly. I thoroughly enjoyed this reading of the intimate journal of her journey through this year of her life.

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The author told us more about death and dying in general and very little about her husband. I found it too impersonal and couldn't make it past the first disk. I was greatly disappointed with this one.

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Theresa Stirling

I have another prime example of let down and wasting of time because I did not check out the book first. The authors memoir of loss and love is universal, it is also, frankly BORING. Yes, it is a shock to lose someone you have loved, but droning on and on was painful. See a therapist, find a friend, join a group. Life is too short to be reading this, or listening to this book.

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Laurel Cohen

This is a poigant, no holds barred chronicle of the horrific, shocking experience Joan Didion had when her only child lay unconscious on life support, followed by the unexpected, sudden death of her husband. The unbelievable events that followed that year, and the thought processes that kept her getting through the traumas she had to shoulder without her number one support are familiar to any of us who have had sudden, shocking loss and grief. She reflects that experience in meticulous detail, and invites us to view how one comes to terms with the "would haves", "should haves", the search for answers as to why it had to happen. A must read for anyone who has lost a spouse, or partner, or had a child in danger of dying.

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The author intellectualized her grief to such an extent that no true emotion came through. I never felt her sorrow, never connected with her. In a book with such a raw, personal topic, that's a fatal flaw. I had such high hopes for this, too.

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Renee Locks

I was impatient with this book and found it self-indulgent, the kind of thinking that was too full of medical minutae for my taste, detracting from the intensity of such a deep grief.

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A glorious book - brilliantly read. I listened to it twice in one day.

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