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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 (556 )
5 star
 (137)
4 star
 (193)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.6 (481 )
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Story
3.8 (476 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
 (95)
2 star
 (31)
1 star
 (24)
Performance
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  •  
    Niffer Wis USA 06-20-13
    Niffer Wis USA 06-20-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    31
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A story that you can relate to and care about"
    If you could sum up The Burgess Boys in three words, what would they be?

    Raw, simple truth


    What did you like best about this story?

    The in-depth look into each character, showing both good and bad in a nonjudgemental way. The description of the town. The way the story unfolds, it takes it's time, but wastes no words.


    What about Cassandra Campbell’s performance did you like?

    Yes a wonderful reader. I loved the Maine accent and the way she emphasized certain words and phrases.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    At certain times the harshness of the dialogue between the siblings was moving, but in a shocking way. The in-comprehensiveness that Bob had when given the news from Jim.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harriette Louisville, KY, United States 06-09-13
    Harriette Louisville, KY, United States 06-09-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    30
    5
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    "Lives up to critics' reviews and my expectations"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I recommended it to my book club. The characters could be people I know. The novel deals with contemporary problems and attitudes--unemployed and impressionable youth, immigration, unresolved family issues, arrogant and arriviste urban dwellers.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Burgess Boys?

    The surprising resolution of the court case. Also Jim's fall from grace due to hubris.


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

    She portrayed the Maine accent very well, and that of the immigrants. She made Jim's wife, Helen, even more aggravating.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I sympathized with the plight of the Somali immigrants, the loneliness experienced when there is disruption in supportive "family" connections.


    Any additional comments?

    I was angered by Jim's disdain for his brother and sister. Of course the boys were the focus of the novel, but I wish the character of the sister had been developed more fully.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Corley Pullman, WA 06-07-13
    L. Corley Pullman, WA 06-07-13 Listener Since 2010

    bug doctor

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Depressing but still somehow riveting."
    Where does The Burgess Boys rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It was average. I listen to alot of audio books, and while I felt the story, the details, and the focus were all very interesting, the overall tone of the entire narration and story was so bleak and desolate that at each new depressing turn, I was like, well of course it just has to keep getting worse. There was very little relief from what I consider to be a story about life's expectations gone wrong. The ending was actually pretty uplifting but only relatively.


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

    I liked the narrator, mostly, but at times she her pace was relatively slow. I wondered if it was her tone, or the tone of the story that was more depressing.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Pacific Palisades, CA, United States 06-06-13
    Paula Pacific Palisades, CA, United States 06-06-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Good story, terrible narration"
    What didn’t you like about Cassandra Campbell’s performance?

    She over-emotes every line. She should remember that she's narrating a story, not "acting it out." Very annoying.at times.


    Was The Burgess Boys worth the listening time?

    Sort of


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    WAYNE L. JONES NEWPORT BEACH, CA, US 04-11-13
    WAYNE L. JONES NEWPORT BEACH, CA, US 04-11-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    6
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    "Depressing, miserable characters."

    I really tried to like this book. It is well written and the narrator was fine, so I had trouble assigning star ratings. But, if I had met these characters in life I would try to avoid them, so I certainly didn't want to spend any time reading about them. I had great hopes for liking Bob, but he couldn't save this depressing, miserable story. I will be exchanging this one.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth Carrollton, TX, United States 03-27-13
    Kenneth Carrollton, TX, United States 03-27-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
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    26
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    1
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    Story
    "Save your money"
    Would you try another book from Elizabeth Strout and/or Cassandra Campbell?

    fifty-fifty


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Anthony King


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    yes


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

    Good to put you to sleep.


    Any additional comments?

    A great disappointment. I listened 3 times and still didn't get it.

    4 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrea Pennsylvania 04-12-13
    Andrea Pennsylvania 04-12-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mixed bag"

    Would give it 3 1/2 stars if possible. The family dynamics were interesting and enjoyed the inward conflicts each character dealt with. That having been said, the main incident of the story was a little depressing and repetitive. The book shed light on a subject that some people might shy away from. It was good to inform the reader about another culture and point out our bias toward these people, but it was a little too "in your face" at times. If you are interested in coming away with having learned something educational and moving; without having to feel like you have to be entertained in a totally shallow and make-believe way, i.e. predictable romances, murder mysteries, etc., then this might work for you. I also felt it was difficult for the narrator to change her voice enough to accomplish a distinction between some of the characters. I don't regret having used a credit.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MAUREEN MILWAUKEE, WI, United States 03-30-13
    MAUREEN MILWAUKEE, WI, United States 03-30-13 Member Since 2006

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
    ratings
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    522
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    4
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    "Was the narrator or the story the worst?"
    What would have made The Burgess Boys better?

    I could not identify with any aspect of the story--what a disappointment!


    How could the performance have been better?

    The narrator's voice was so grating that I almost gave up in the first 30 minutes--perhaps I should have because the book was so disappointing.


    What character would you cut from The Burgess Boys?

    ALL


    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grace La Jolla, CA, United States 05-13-13
    Grace La Jolla, CA, United States 05-13-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "For unintresting old women"
    What disappointed you about The Burgess Boys?

    It was slow and the characters were dry. It was a struggle to get through


    Would you ever listen to anything by Elizabeth Strout again?

    I would never listen to anything by Elizabeth Strout again


    Would you be willing to try another one of Cassandra Campbell’s performances?

    no


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

    no redeeming qualities


    Any additional comments?

    dont read it

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Cincinnati, OH, United States 04-24-13
    Kathleen Cincinnati, OH, United States 04-24-13 Member Since 2011

    webkat7

    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
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    "Huge Disappointment"

    I have greatly enjoyed Elizabeth Strout's other books, including "Olive Kitteredge" and "Amy & Isabelle." "The Burgess Boys" is almost shockingly disappointing. The story is dreary, the characters utterly unlikable, and the narrator sounds clinically depressed (I guess I would be, too, if I had to read this drivel). I couldn't even finish the first half.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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