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 .
When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice Audiobook

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

Terry Tempest Williams's mother told her: "I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won't look at them until after I'm gone." Fans of Williams's iconic and unconventional memoir, Refuge, well remember that mother. She was a member of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah who developed cancer as a result of the nuclear testing in nearby Nevada. It was a shock to Williams that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as what she found when the time came to read them.
Regular Price:$14.95
  • 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 -

Publisher's Summary

The beloved author of Refuge returns with a work that explodes and startles, illuminates and celebrates.

Terry Tempest Williams's mother told her: "I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won't look at them until after I'm gone."

Fans of Williams's iconic and unconventional memoir, Refuge, well remember that mother. She was a member of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah who developed cancer as a result of the nuclear testing in nearby Nevada. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as what she found when the time came to read them.

They were exactly where she said they would be: three shelves of beautiful cloth-bound books.... "I opened the first journal. It was empty. I opened the second journal. It was empty. I opened the third. It too was empty.... Shelf after shelf after shelf, all of my mother's journals were blank."

What did Williams's mother mean by that? In 54 chapters that unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty, Williams creates a lyrical and caring meditation of the mystery of her mother's journals. When Women Were Birds is a kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question "What does it mean to have a voice?"

©2012 Terry Tempest Williams (P)2012 Wind Over The Earth

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (293 )
5 star
 (147)
4 star
 (48)
3 star
 (39)
2 star
 (25)
1 star
 (34)
Overall
3.8 (263 )
5 star
 (129)
4 star
 (45)
3 star
 (34)
2 star
 (20)
1 star
 (35)
Story
4.0 (255 )
5 star
 (141)
4 star
 (48)
3 star
 (23)
2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (28)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Powakee Dona Ana, NM, United States 05-31-14
    Powakee Dona Ana, NM, United States 05-31-14 Member Since 2008

    Powakee

    HELPFUL VOTES
    48
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    22
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not About Birds!"
    What did you love best about When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice?

    In the context of story telling when the writer discovered 'the secret' she did not dwell so much on what could appear as an obvious disappointment but immediately began a search to understand the meaning of the gift and the meaning of a life as looked at through both her eyes and her mothers' eyes.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoyed the many pearls of wisdom dropped by the author along the story line. There are not many people who can write a short book and SLAM the reader with insightful revelations into the human condition and still make the reader want to continue the book to the end. This author did that very thing magnificently!


    What does Terry Tempest Williams bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I always enjoy hearing an author read their own work. Her voice, the speed, emphasis, pauses these interpretations of her own work helped me 'hear' the voice in the story. I found, many times while going through this book, sheer wonderment that the voice I was hearing was the voice of the writer. She wrote this story very nicely and her voice brought out the 'shine' that lay within those words. She was great.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    A film would detract from this story.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lucia Colombaro 03-14-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Needed Voice"

    Terry Tempest Williams speaks my heart to me in this work. She travels the full journey, exquisitely.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn J. 02-23-16
    Lynn J. 02-23-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing"

    A clouded mind wrote what seems to be a woman so full of herself the story is lost. This book was recommended to me by a friend and I expected it to be good. I was very disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LJ SF Bay Area 11-16-15
    LJ SF Bay Area 11-16-15

    Lou - Intuitive Audio

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Audible has terrible sound quality!"
    What made the experience of listening to When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice the most enjoyable?

    Terry's voice is wonderfull, soothing and moving.


    Any additional comments?

    But, it is hardly appreciable in audible format - no treble, not tone quality, and generally lousy sound! I felt this ten years ago a=when I cancelked my "membership", and since I am producing audiobook for Audible now, needed to check it out - but the sound is still awgull, lousy, and substandard.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cortney 10-06-15
    cortney 10-06-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "She helped me find my voice"

    Being a transplant into Mormon culture, I've seen this struggle in my friends. I admire Terry's poetic nature, her strong, moving vocabulary, and the power she give me, or rather, helps me find inside myself after finishing one of her books. I love listening to her speak. her flow, her rhythm, simply beautiful. she and I have a lot in common. I look to her when I need words. I read this after my mother passed. it helped me cope with her passing. I admire the women in her family.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Athene 02-10-15
    Athene 02-10-15

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    88
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A discovery."

    There are many topics and issues in this work, still, unexpectedly, it came together as a complete whole.
    'When Women Were Birds' is part memoir, part natural history writing, part clear-eyed social commentary, and all poetry.
    The writer does a very fine job of narrating her own writing, which adds dimension to the listening experience. Enjoyable to listen to, and gives much food for contemplation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Chicago, IL USA 10-16-14
    Amazon Customer Chicago, IL USA 10-16-14 Member Since 2014

    KathrynVB

    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
    33
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful story read by its author."

    I am glad that I was introduced to Terry Tempest Williams in this book. It is a wonderful book about womanhood in the Mormon community of Utah. How does a woman communicate when her religious tradition insists that she remain silent? How does this religious tradition live out in the relationship that Mormons have with the land? It helps that the book is read by its author, as her inflection is important in giving you a sense of her true feelings. That is as valuable as the words themselves.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela 10-06-14
    Angela 10-06-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I cut the sound off after listening for 2 minutes!"
    Would you try another book from Terry Tempest Williams and/or Terry Tempest Williams?

    Not if she were the narrator.


    What could Terry Tempest Williams have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Get a great narrator, with a more soothing voice.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Voice sounded itchy and scratchy at times


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I purchased this book and I really loved the read! I thought I'd listen to it narrated by the author, but It threw me for a loop!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kirsten WASILLA, AK, United States 09-09-14
    Kirsten WASILLA, AK, United States 09-09-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Chick flick read"

    This was not what I thought it would be.... But it turned into a more interesting read than I expected. It's always curious to hear how other parts of the world live and function in comparison to your own upbringing.

    Her values and the different issues that surround women do have interesting points and she brings a unique observation and perspective to what women face vs. men. I would recommend this book for other women and for men, if they are open to issues that ONLY women face.



    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cjfquilts Denver, CO USA 09-04-14
    cjfquilts Denver, CO USA 09-04-14

    I listen to Audible so that I can read and do all that Mom stuff as the same time. I do see the words as they are read.....

    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    181
    17
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Touched My Soul"

    This is testament to being a wife, a daughter and a woman in an age where it was difficult to know which way to go. It is about experiencing the death of all the strong women in your family and not knowing how to reconcile that with your life. I bought the book for my mother for her 85th birthday. She will love it!

    0 of 0 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.