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The Burgess Boys: A Novel | [Elizabeth Strout]

The Burgess Boys: A Novel

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan - the Burgess sibling who stayed behind - urgently calls them home.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, March 2013 - Jim and Bob Burgess escaped their Maine hometown just as soon as they could…but now their nephew’s ‘antics’ have brought them back home where they’re forced to relive the accident that killed their father and deal with the (not-so-pretty) realities of their relationships. Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her last book, Olive Kitteridge, which I loved, so my expectations were high for this new novel. Similar to Olive, the protagonists here aren’t necessarily likeable, but the character studies are so insightful, so raw and real, you can’t help but be drawn in – especially with Cassandra Campbell at the helm. —Diana D., Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan - the Burgess sibling who stayed behind - urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.

With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with listeners long after the ausiobook is over. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.

©2013 Elizabeth Strout (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Deeply human... Though loneliness and loss haunt these pages, Strout also supplies gentle humor and a nourishing dose of hope.” (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (664 )
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3.9 (566 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 03-29-15
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 03-29-15 Member Since 2007

    The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Was I supposed to care about these characters?"

    I decided after the first hour that I just didn’t care about the characters in this novel. The first warning sign was when I had to listen to the prologue three times. The first two times, when I got to the end of the chapter, I realized my attention had wandered so much that I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know who was who, who was telling the story about who, what the time frames of the different stories were. I don’t think my confusion was due to anything particularly complex about the story. It’s just that all the people were so bland I couldn’t tell them apart. The characters have the names “Jim” and “Bob” and “Sue” and “Margaret” and “Helen.” Someone has had multiple marriages. Someone has a son that suffered a mysterious tragedy. Or maybe it’s the whole family that has suffered a mysterious tragedy. At the end of the prologue, you are supposed to care enough about these individuals to want to listen to another 13 hours. It reminded me a little bit of the setup in the fabulous “The Dinner” by Herman Koch but without the hilarious snarkiness and unshakeable sense of impending disaster. I don’t know if it was the performance or the book or both, but I simply couldn’t muster up enough interest in the Burgess family to want to know what happened to them.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 01-13-14
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 01-13-14
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    "Meandering, unlikable characters... couldn't finis"

    I really enjoyed Elizabeth Strout's "Abide with Me." When I found THe Burgess Boys on Audible, read by Cassandra Campbell, I thought it would be a worthwhile read. I've gotten only 2hrs of the way through, and I... just... don't... care. Strout is a talented author, who can seamlessly weave together strands of everyday life and dialogue into her stories, but I don't like (or cannot relate to) any of the Burgess siblings: Bob is like a wounded puppy, Jim is a big pushy bully, and I just can't figure Susan out (who cares that her tenant stays in her pajamas all day?)
    Many others have read this book and enjoyed it, but I just couldn't with this one. I still have Olive Kitteridge and Amy and Isabelle on my wishlist, so I ahve not given up on this author entirely... but this one just didn't do it for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine THORNLIE, Australia 10-25-13
    Christine THORNLIE, Australia 10-25-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slow. Naration was very good but the story wasn't"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Substance


    Has The Burgess Boys turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, just this author


    Which scene was your favorite?

    It only became interesting at around chapter eight, but it was short lived.


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

    Disappointment


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tiffany Potomac Falls, VA 09-19-13
    Tiffany Potomac Falls, VA 09-19-13 Member Since 2013

    reading world

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    "Not worth your time"
    What disappointed you about The Burgess Boys?

    I enjoyed Olive Kitteridge, so I thought why not listen to another of Strout's books but this book was so boring I just wanted it to be over. Everything in the story was predictable.


    Has The Burgess Boys turned you off from other books in this genre?

    no


    What didn’t you like about Cassandra Campbell’s performance?

    it was fine


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Burgess Boys?

    so much it is hard to say


    Any additional comments?

    Sorry, I just did not think the writing was very good. Best of luck with a new book

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura 09-01-13
    Laura 09-01-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Boring Narration"
    Any additional comments?

    I cannot tell if I would have liked the story had the narration been better. Some of her voices were okay, but it was dull, especially in-between the dialogue. I cannot put my finger on it - the voice was nice, but it was just so slow and kind of depressing. I am having a really hard time getting through it and probably will not finish it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Penni St Andrews, Australia 06-18-13
    Penni St Andrews, Australia 06-18-13 Listener Since 2010
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    "A family story, whispered in your ear by a friend"

    This beautiful story, not just about the Burgess Boys, Bob and Jim, but their sad sister Susan, unravels with a slow, drawling fascination. Prefaced by another character entirely, who then silently haunts the book, building this story into myth, this novel entangled me and I was gutted when it was over.

    Elizabeth Strout writes novels you live in for a while. You can walk around her towns and city blocks, you have the opportunity to inhabit any one of a number of psychologically rich characters. Her characters are flawed - racist, angry, sad, blinded by privilege or burdened with lack - and yet you forgive all of them ultimately because it is lonely and confusing to be human, connected and disconnected simultaneously to those around you, and to the things you live with.

    Highly recommended. I also enjoyed the audiobook of Strout's Abide With Me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mia 03-29-13
    Mia 03-29-13 Member Since 2015

    I am a miracle worker. Doing what I can to choose love over fear.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Had perfectly written moments close to Yates"
    What did you like best about The Burgess Boys? What did you like least?

    I liked the moments when the author created magic with sentences and a plot turning from fiction to an almost suspense pain. I do not enjoy abridged books, but it was too much time and not even Yates could have made this sometimes painfully slow story into a five-star experience.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I`d turn the three divided books into one then made it 150 pages shorter. More magic!


    Which character – as performed by Cassandra Campbell – was your favorite?

    Pam.


    Could you see The Burgess Boys being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    kirby Heyborne as Zack, Peter Krause as Bob, Matt Dillon as Bill and Lauren Graham as the sad Susan.


    Any additional comments?

    could be perfect.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anita Lindsley 03-04-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Family is at the heart of this story"

    Nothing is ever as it seems. Ms. Strout tells a compelling story about three siblings and is an excellent story teller.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne 12-17-14
    Anne 12-17-14 Member Since 2014
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    "very interesting interplay between characters"
    If you could sum up The Burgess Boys in three words, what would they be?

    very human


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This is a serious book and has moments of real human response which were funny


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marva Gaithersburg, MD, United States 09-15-14
    Marva Gaithersburg, MD, United States 09-15-14 Member Since 2013

    The Journalist who loves Jack Russels!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Burgess Family"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Burgess Boys to be better than the print version?

    Sorry, didn't review the print.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Bob. The most balanced (and sane).


    What about Cassandra Campbell’s performance did you like?

    She's a great reader.


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

    Boston


    Any additional comments?

    Interesting book. Jim was a trip. I would have liked to see if Helen allowed him back.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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