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Songs Without Words | [Ann Packer]

Songs Without Words

Liz and Sarabeth were childhood neighbors, brought as close as sisters by the suicide of Sarabeth's mother when the girls were just 16. In the decades that followed - through Liz's marriage and Sarabeth's attempts to make a happy life for herself - their relationship remained a source of continuity and strength. But when Liz's adolescent daughter enters dangerous waters that threaten to engulf the family, the fault lines in the women's friendship are revealed.
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Publisher's Summary

Ann Packer's debut novel, The Dive from Clausen's Pier, was a nationwide best-seller that established her as one of our most gifted chroniclers of the interior lives of women. Now, in her long-awaited second novel, she takes us on a journey into a lifelong friendship pushed to the breaking point. Expertly, with the keen introspection and psychological nuance that are her hallmarks, she explores what happens when there are inequities between friends and when the hard-won balances of a long relationship are disturbed, perhaps irreparably, by a harrowing crisis.

Liz and Sarabeth were childhood neighbors in the suburbs of Northern California, brought as close as sisters by the suicide of Sarabeth's mother when the girls were just 16. In the decades that followed - through Liz's marriage and the birth of her children, through Sarabeth's attempts to make a happy life for herself despite the shadow cast by her mother's act, their relationship remained a source of continuity and strength.

But when Liz's adolescent daughter enters dangerous waters that threaten to engulf the family, the fault lines in the women's friendship are revealed, and both Liz and Sarabeth are forced to reexamine their most deeply held beliefs about their connection. Songs Without Words is about the sometimes confining roles we take on in our closest relationships, about the familial myths that shape us, both as children and as parents, and about the limits, and the power, of the friendships we create when we are young.

©2007 Ann Packer; (P)2007 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A richly nuanced meditation on the place of friendship in women's lives." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.2 (74 )
5 star
 (12)
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2.7 (3 )
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3.0 (2 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Dianne Hastings on Hudson, NY, USA 10-01-07
    Dianne Hastings on Hudson, NY, USA 10-01-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    55
    ratings
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    17
    7
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    Overall
    "Depression dissected"

    This book moved me deeply. I became interested in the book after hearing the author interviewed on National Public Radio. However, after reading the listener reviews on Audible.com, I wondered if I would actually enjoy it. I am so glad I got the book despite the other listener reviews. The book examines depression through a prism of different characters who arrive in that state through differing routes. It is a sensitive, deeply moving description of the impact on four different individuals, as well as on each one's family and friends of the illness and the course it may take. The story does revolve around a friendship between two mature women women and what it means when one cannot meet an urgent need of the other. But it also dissects the paralysis that depression can induce, using the lenses of the different life circumstances that precede the illness. There are no easy, flip answers here! This psychological novel is obviously not for everyone. For me, however, it resonated with experiences in my own life, and I think many others will find it meaningful. I liked the narrator, and felt the tone was appropriate for the subject matter.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen COUPEVILLE, WA, USA 08-15-08
    Kathleen COUPEVILLE, WA, USA 08-15-08 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
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    35
    2
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    "Dull"

    Not just dull -- I also wanted to like these characters and their fabulous homes and lives. But, I just wanted to smack all of them by the time I was done with the book -- in the end, they were all boringly narcissistic.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dorian 05-17-08
    Dorian 05-17-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    101
    10
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    1
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    Overall
    "Sad"

    A depressing book about suicide and its impact on the lives of friends and family

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Ashland, OR, USA 09-15-07
    Jean Ashland, OR, USA 09-15-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    59
    3
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    "Spoiled by the narrator"

    When I donwloaded this book, the preview of the narration was not available, and I have learned, for good, that the narration makes the listening experience. I will have to read Ann Packer's latest in print form in order to fairly critique her book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gina Pleasanton, CA, USA 12-11-07
    Gina Pleasanton, CA, USA 12-11-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    74
    5
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    0
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    "Can you say..Depressing"

    Let me start by saying that I did not finish the book. I gave it a valiant effort, it was a book club choice or I would have given up much sooner than 5 ½ hours into it. I kept waiting for a real storyline, but it was just suicide, deep depression and selfish personalities.
    There is really no storyline – just one boring depressing life after another… arrrghhh so frustrating to waste a credit…

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Courtney San Antonio, TX, USA 09-20-07
    Courtney San Antonio, TX, USA 09-20-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    46
    4
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    Overall
    "Disappointing"

    I've read Ann Packer's first book, The Dive From Clausen's Pier, twice and it is one of my all time favortie books. I had been eagerly awaiting the release of this book and downloaded it before a week where I was going to have to drive around 800 miles for my job. This book was really slow and depressing and I found it hard to listen while driving because it made me feel drowsy. I wanted a couple of the characters to just get over themselves. I agree with another reviewer that the lack of communication between many or the characters was frustrating. I thought the narration was okay. This isn't my favorite narrator, but I don't think she made a bad situation worse.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scubacat Kailua Kona, HI, USA 09-24-07
    Scubacat Kailua Kona, HI, USA 09-24-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
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    0
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    "drawn out agony....."

    I have a little over an hour left on this book and I am only listening to the end because I keep thinking that something interesting has to happen at some point!! The characters are all difficult to like, self centered and depressing - I find it hard to have any compassion for any of them. The book is excruciatingly slow moving....I expected so much more from this author. I think the narrator is fine, she just doesn't have much to work with on this one.
    The book deals with suicide and I have to say that at several points I was hoping that ALL of the characters would commit suicide and put this listener out of her misery!!!
    Don't bother with this one.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cathy F Wisconsin, USA 01-14-08
    Cathy F Wisconsin, USA 01-14-08 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    148
    2
    FOLLOWERS
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    0
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    Overall
    "Boring and depressing"

    I agree with the other reviewers who felt that it was depressing, boring and hard to keep listening to. I also kept thinking there must be more to the story, but there never was. I don't think there was even one character in the book who wasn't unhappy. I wish I hadn't wasted my time finishing the book.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Killian Palo Alto, CA, United States 02-13-13
    Killian Palo Alto, CA, United States 02-13-13 Member Since 2011

    Audiophile since the days I had to check 'em out on rickety cassette tapes at the local library. Currently working the other side of production as an author of romance and scifi/fantasy.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Performance
    Story
    "Missing something crucial"
    Any additional comments?

    Technically solid writing is the best I can say. Horrible in every other way. The reader ends the book still waiting for the semblance of a story to really emerge. Reader pulls off an okay performance, given the lack of exciting/interesting material she was given.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jen oakland, CA, USA 10-08-07
    Jen oakland, CA, USA 10-08-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    83
    2
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    "couldn't even finish"

    Very disappointed. Very boring. I couldn't even listen to the last 45 minutes because frankly, I just didn't care. I do NOT recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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