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Blame Audiobook

Blame: A Novel

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Audible Editor Reviews

Blame begins in 1980, when 29-year-old Patsy MacLemoore, a history professor with a long, buttery spill of hair, hints at an urgency for tea cups brimming with bourbon, poured neat, "the first mouthful, as big and sweet and hot as gasoline". Patsy is a blackout drunk. Nine months later, and for the third time, she lands in county jail, her hangover a "metallic gargle" souring her breath, and no memory of the previous 24 hours. Her attorney clues her in: while backing out of her driveway, Patsy, her license already revoked, has struck and killed a mother and daughter, Jehovah's Witnesses, both plowed down by her plastered disrepair. She pleads guilty, is convicted and sentenced to four years in state prison where she commits to sobriety and self-revulsion, even bleeding on her socks, "wearing and washing them in rotation" when refused a simple request for sanitary napkins.

Blame by Michelle Huneven is risky, prickly, and astonishingly lovely. Patsy's redemption is anchored by being good, not staying clean, even though she never relapses. Huneven approaches addiction as a messy, elemental impulse that crushes some with liquor and pills, while collapsing others, like Cal Sharp — Patsy's three-decades-older husband, a pillar of AA — with the compulsion to save as many lost souls as can be crammed into their ranch home.

Hillary Huber narrates Blame and her hypnotic storyteller's voice coaxes a rich, rhythmic word flow out of Huneven's droll language. There is empathy as well as a sneaky, subversive acidity to Huber's logic-driven Patsy; a deliberate, academic pacing. Patsy's rakish ex-boyfriend, Brice, is also humanized by Huber, who registers Brice's grief over losing his lover, Gilles, by curdling his surfer drawl with a gritty skim of impatience. Blame is a masterpiece, and when Huber, as Patsy, observes, "Guilt was like the check on a table. Somebody had to pick it up", it clicks that yes, finally, this is the meaning of recovery. —Nita Rao

Publisher's Summary

Patsy MacLemoore, a history professor in her late 20s, has a brand-new Ph.D. from Berkeley and a wild streak. She wakes up in jail after an epic alcoholic blackout. "Okay, what'd I do?" she asks her lawyer and jailers.

In fact, two Jehovah's Witnesses, a mother and daughter, are dead, run over in Patsy's driveway, and Patsy will spend the rest of her life trying to atone. She goes to prison, gets sober, and upon her release finds a new community (and a husband) in AA. She resists temptations, strives for goodness, and becomes a selfless teacher, friend, and wife.

Then, decades later, another unimaginable piece of information turns up. For the reader, it is an electrifying moment; a joyous, fall-off-the-couch-with-surprise moment. For Patsy, it is more complicated. Blame must be reapportioned, her life reassessed.

Blame is a spellbinding novel of guilt and love, family and shame, sobriety and the lack of it, and the moral ambiguities that ensnare us all.

(P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Brilliant observations, excellent characters, spiffy dialogue and a clever plot keep readers hooked, and the final twist turns Patsy's new life on its ear. Huneven's exploration of misdeeds real and imagined is humane, insightful and beautiful." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (103 )
5 star
 (19)
4 star
 (36)
3 star
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2 star
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Overall
3.6 (46 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.8 (43 )
5 star
 (12)
4 star
 (17)
3 star
 (11)
2 star
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1 star
 (2)
Performance
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  •  
    Rex Los Angeles, CA, USA 11-01-09
    Rex Los Angeles, CA, USA 11-01-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    63
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    "Amazing character study!"

    I found this novel by Michelle Huneven, to be an amazing character study. Her (the protagonist Patsy) fall and eventual redemption following a horrible accident done in an alcoholic blackout was believable and compelling. So often a person is judged by their worst act but in Patsy's case, her friends, family, and victims family are the first to forgive. Long before she is able to forgive herself. Some of the most telling parts in this novel are scenes between Patsy and her victims husband. I found the AA program sections and scenes with her therapist both compelling and informative. The reader, Hillary Huber, was one of the best readers I have heard in along time. All in all, an amazing reading/listening experience!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Harvey The Coast of Rhode Island 08-30-09
    Pamela Harvey The Coast of Rhode Island 08-30-09 Member Since 2016

    glam

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5216
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    485
    312
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3984
    0
    Overall
    "narrative whiplash"

    This book has an excellent premise, but it is not even slightly evident that the protagonist "spends the rest of her life trying to atone". Perhaps the writer had some sort of internal angst in mind when she created this character and her situation, but actually from the reader's point of view, this person suffers very little for her misdeeds, and any spiritual growth experienced by "Patsy", does not come across. After her minimum sentence she goes blithely back into her previous life, where her employer(s) don't care the slightest bit about a felony in her resume, and proceeds to engage in a life of privilege, parties and serial monogamy. The AA stuff is strictly background noise, and the handily-acquired AA husband described in the publisher's summary is already discarded by the end of the book.

    I was seriously looking forward to this read, but I only found too many shallow characters whose behaviors lack consequence, too much dialogue - the lazy way to tell a story - and just too many names to remember. If my attention drifted the slightest bit, I was all of a sudden in the midst of an entirely new cast!

    24 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie Vadnais Heights, MN, United States 10-21-10
    Connie Vadnais Heights, MN, United States 10-21-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Would not recommend for Audible"

    This book does not lend itself well for the Audible Book user. It runs with too many characters and flows poorly. Only order if you can listen to the book from beginning to end without breaks.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Bala Cynwyd, PA, United States 04-22-15
    David Bala Cynwyd, PA, United States 04-22-15 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
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    82
    8
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    3
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    Story
    "Worst ending"
    Any additional comments?

    Normally, I don't write reviews, but am making an exception in this case to say that after investing many an hour in this book, but ending is a terrible disappointment. The main character, Patsy, behaves like a doormat, though the author sets the reader up to expect more and better. What a let down.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    annemarie GROVE CITY, OH, United States 09-13-13
    annemarie GROVE CITY, OH, United States 09-13-13 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    34
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enjoyable Listen"
    What made the experience of listening to Blame the most enjoyable?

    As soon as I finished this book, I was recommending it my friends. I listened to the majority of the book while travelling for work. The performance made the characters seem very real and they were great company on my travels. By the end Patsy seemed like an old friend that I had known for years, supporting her through her trials and successes. The story was good, catching my interest quickly and the characters well developed.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    skyblue21 Santa Monica, CA 10-29-12
    skyblue21 Santa Monica, CA 10-29-12 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    7
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    0
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    Performance
    Story
    "Very unsatisfying story. No interesting characters"
    What disappointed you about Blame?

    I was waiting for something to happen. Nothing ever did. I got it based on a recommendation that it would take you on surprising journey. Instead it went nowhere. I kept waiting for a surprise that never came.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    In Sunlight and in Shadow


    What does Hillary Huber bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Very good reader, except for when she did the characters of Joey and Gilles. Her voice was kind of shriek-y when she did those younger voices.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I'm bored and annoyed.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Somers, CT, USA 09-17-12
    John Somers, CT, USA 09-17-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
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    17
    10
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    Performance
    Story
    "Blackout drinking"

    If you ever drank so much you had to ask your friends and family how much fun you had because you honestly don't remember, then this story will cause a queasy feeling in your gut. Forget running out to look at your car - if you even remember where you left it, hoping it's in the garage! - to see if there are any new dents on it, you woke up in the drunk tank. Again. This is the picture of untreated alcoholism and what its consequences might be. It's also a great little slice of life in upper-crust Los Angeles in the early to mid 1980s. The author is spot on in terms of prison life, and in terms of AA culture. The story has a very real feel to it, a sense of having been there, known the players, been part of it. You may not enjoy this story... IF you are an untreated alcoholic. It will be uncomfortable for you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted West Hartford CT, United States 08-23-12
    Ted West Hartford CT, United States 08-23-12 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A terrible book"
    Would you try another book from Michelle Huneven and/or Hillary Huber?

    No I would not buy another book by this author. Please consider another book. This is an incredibly boring and meandering story.


    Any additional comments?

    I want my 10 hrs back. I was captive on a 12 hr road trip and kept expecting something interesting to happen but it didn't. My wife and I just kept looking at each other everytime the story meanederd to a new boring subject.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rochelle Christopher Philadelphia, PA United States 08-20-12
    Rochelle Christopher Philadelphia, PA United States 08-20-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    4
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    0
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    "Wonderful Beach Read; couldn't put it down"
    What did you love best about Blame?

    I loved the fact that you got to care about the main character. Having been the wife of a recovering alcoholic, I could relate and this story was perfect. I couldn't wait to continue to listen so I could find out what happened to her and to her family.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite was the main character's gay boyfriend. His name escapes me at the moment but he was the one I most wanted to know a little better. I wanted him for MY friend.


    Have you listened to any of Hillary Huber’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, I have not.


    If you could take any character from Blame out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Probably the husband of the Jehovah;s Witness woman that was killed. His capacity for forgiveness is something that I could learn a lot from.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Chicago, IL, United States 06-13-11
    Sarah Chicago, IL, United States 06-13-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    5
    Overall
    "Excellent read"

    Though slow in several parts of the book, the overall story is excellent. It certainly helps the reader realize how quickly life can change and how scary blackout drinking can become. I liked it a lot and recommend it, especially to those readers who are in or seeking recovery.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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