We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
The Year of Magical Thinking | [Joan Didion]

The Year of Magical Thinking

"Life changes fast....You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." These were among the first words Joan Didion wrote in January 2004. Her daughter was lying unconscious in an intensive care unit, a victim of pneumonia and septic shock. Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, was dead. The night before New Year's Eve, while they were sitting down to dinner, he suffered a massive and fatal coronary. The two had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years.
Regular Price:$16.98
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2005

"Life changes fast....You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." These were among the first words Joan Didion wrote in January 2004. Her daughter was lying unconscious in an intensive care unit, a victim of pneumonia and septic shock. Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, was dead. The night before New Year's Eve, while they were sitting down to dinner, he suffered a massive and fatal coronary. The two had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years.

The weeks and months that followed "cut loose any fixed idea I had about death, about illness, about probability and luck...about marriage and children and memory...about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself."

In The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion explores with electric honesty and passion a private yet universal experience. Her portrait of a marriage, and a life, in good times and bad, will speak directly to anyone who has ever loved a husband, a wife, or a child.

Listen to Joan Didion's full-hour interview with Charlie Rose.

©2005 Joan Didion; (P)2005 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Biography/Memoir
  • National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee, Autobiography, 2005

"Many will greet this taut, clear-eyed memoir of grief as a long-awaited return to the terrain of Didion's venerated, increasingly rare personal essays....This is an indispensable addition to Didion's body of work and a lyrical, disciplined entry in the annals of mourning literature." (Publishers Weekly)
"The Year of Magical Thinking is not a downer. On the contrary. Though the material is literally terrible, the writing is exhilarating and what unfolds resembles an adventure narrative." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (1471 )
5 star
 (520)
4 star
 (387)
3 star
 (345)
2 star
 (136)
1 star
 (83)
Overall
3.8 (576 )
5 star
 (212)
4 star
 (153)
3 star
 (133)
2 star
 (45)
1 star
 (33)
Story
4.0 (570 )
5 star
 (226)
4 star
 (184)
3 star
 (100)
2 star
 (40)
1 star
 (20)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Sarah Carlson 01-02-09 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    46
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Touching"

    A touching story of grief and survival. Bravely and honestly written.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D.P. 03-29-07
    D.P. 03-29-07 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    56
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    45
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    "The Puzzle of Grief"

    This book is a tremendous effort to express the complicated grief process that one person went through after the sudden death of their spouse. It is touching, sometimes distressing, and sometimes confusing, much like the grief process itself.

    I felt compelled to write a review since so many reviews here seem to criticism Ms. Didion for not grieving in the correct way or not expressing her grief in the right way. This is a memoir. It is about her life and her experienes. It doesn't follow any rules and I believe that is the point. She is letting you experience her grief experience. She's not talking about everyone's grief experience or how you should grieve.

    Overall it was a very interesting and insightful read. If you don't enjoy memiors, however, you might not enjoy the style. But this is an excellent book.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Corrales, NM, United States 06-08-06
    Mark Corrales, NM, United States 06-08-06 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    46
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    19
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    "rich lady mourning"

    Not especially interesting or compelling. Actually rather boring for the most part. I don't really get why this book was on so many top 10 books of the year lists. Maybe there is something I am missing, because I couldn't relate to her issues at all. Lots of sad tales about her going back & forth from the hospital to the Beverly Willshire Hotel (boo hoo). Also she is so surprised her husband drops dead of a cardiac arrest after he has heart disease for 20 years and has a pacemaker in. Don't mean to be callous, but didn't you see this coming? Even the husband said he knew how he was going to die (heart attack).

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex Indianapolis, IN, USA 04-17-06
    Alex Indianapolis, IN, USA 04-17-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Poor."

    This book is a poor excuse for a memoir. The story is too fragmented to follow while I drive on the highway in the car. Don't even bother listening to this in the City. There is too much scatter brained thinking in this one, and any of the intresting parts get trumped by her in-ability to stay to any point for more than 2 minutes.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    william c thill 12-21-05 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "A beautiful work, beautifully read."

    Simply, a brilliantly clear, wrenching account. Deeply moving, never sentimental or manipulative, Didion uses exact descriptions, exact language to tell her story. Not a word is out of place. It's also one of the best read books. The narrator is fantastic.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emeritus 04-15-07
    Emeritus 04-15-07

    bookdoc

    HELPFUL VOTES
    44
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    89
    35
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    7
    0
    Overall
    "A new way to"

    I have always like the tight, terse and outsider view that Didion has brought to everything she rights about and worried about how this would work out. Nothing to worry about since the narration is wonderful and Didion's words, emotions and bittersweet experiences are tenderly and accurately reflected. It is amazing to "read" and better to savor. Wish I had a "rewind" button.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 05-14-13
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 05-14-13 Member Since 2009

    Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit

    HELPFUL VOTES
    592
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    292
    114
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    106
    16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Ugh..."

    I made it through 4 hours of this one before pulling out my earbuds in exasperation. I couldn't take the high-society cerebral musings and endless quoting of other writers and artists. I waited for something semi-interesting to happen but it never did and the narration wasn't enough to carry it alone. Don't waste a credit on this dud.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mebythesea 12-12-11
    Mebythesea 12-12-11

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    82
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    188
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Liked it...didn't love it"
    What did you love best about The Year of Magical Thinking?

    I guess I liked the fact that Ms. Didion wished to share her deep love of her husband in such a touching way. I felt for her pain but at the same time I just wasn't moved. I feel bad about that because she suffered through not only the loss of her husband, but the illness of her beloved daughter. I just feel there was too much repetition....


    Would you recommend The Year of Magical Thinking to your friends? Why or why not?

    I suppose I would recommend this book to friends. I'm not sure if it would be one of my top ten listens to recommend though....I just can't put my finger on why....I'll be wondering if other readers feel the same sense of not caring for this book or if it's just me.


    What three words best describe Barbara Caruso’s performance?

    Convincing, compassionate and enjoyable.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There were many moments that moved me....not to tears, but moved me to hoping that this would be over, and soon.


    Any additional comments?

    I thought I would love this book. I just didn't. It's not that it wasn't believable. I was very believable. I just wanted it to end. I don't experience that often with my Audible listens. This time I did.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah R 06-19-07
    Sarah R 06-19-07

    Sarah R

    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    23
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "What it is not"

    I deeply admire Joan Didion, but I don't quite understand how this book garnered as much attention and praise as it did. It is a memoir about how she survived the tragic death of her husband and the devastating illness (and later death) of her daughter. She survived it, it seems, by writing this diary - by writing her way into and out of it. Particularly lovely is her tribute to her late husband, her description of their life together and her life without him. She does well at capturing some of the moments of disorientation and loneliness that came with all of this. It is not, however, her most literary nor her most intelligent of works; alternatively, it is not a guide to grieving or recovering from loss.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William San Francisco, CA, USA 04-06-06
    William San Francisco, CA, USA 04-06-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Magical Book of the year!"

    A wonderful narrator takes us through the terrible year of tragedies for Joan Didion, who beautifully highlights what it means to live and experience human emotions. This was a book I could not stop, and indeed listened to several chapters over again to only to enjoy the haunting pace and voice of Ms Didion. Exceptional work.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.