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

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

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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

3.9 (304 )
5 star
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3.8 (274 )
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Story
4.0 (266 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Powakee Dona Ana, NM, United States 05-31-14
    Powakee Dona Ana, NM, United States 05-31-14 Member Since 2008

    Powakee

    HELPFUL VOTES
    50
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    46
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    "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
  •  
    Lené Gary Vermont 08-28-16
    Lené Gary Vermont 08-28-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
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    Story
    "I want to buy a copy for every woman I know. I want to buy a copy for every lover of words. This is poetry. This is a gift."

    I own a hard copy, but it was such a pleasure to hear Terry read her own work through the Audible version that I would recommend listening to it before reading it.

    A pure gift! I listened to the whole book in one day.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eschuman 08-17-16
    eschuman 08-17-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
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    7
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    "Breathtaking!"

    A privilege to listen. A privilege to share the depth of this exquisite woman. I want to begin again so she stays in my life and honors my/our humanity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Disperati toronto, Ontario Canada 07-17-16
    Patricia Disperati toronto, Ontario Canada 07-17-16 Member Since 2015

    pdispe

    ratings
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    9
    2
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    Story
    "I can't understand this book"
    What would have made When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice better?

    maybe i'm too simple, but just can't get this book. to ethereal... i got it because of the good reviews, but was disappointed.


    What was most disappointing about Terry Tempest Williams’s story?

    too vague


    Would you be willing to try another one of Terry Tempest Williams’s performances?

    no


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

    i couldn't get past the first 20min


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lucia Colombaro 03-14-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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
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    2
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    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
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    "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
    6
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    "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
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    "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
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    "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

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