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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 (690 )
5 star
 (173)
4 star
 (245)
3 star
 (170)
2 star
 (60)
1 star
 (42)
Overall
3.6 (591 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.9 (588 )
5 star
 (194)
4 star
 (211)
3 star
 (119)
2 star
 (38)
1 star
 (26)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    MAUREEN MILWAUKEE, WI, United States 03-30-13
    MAUREEN MILWAUKEE, WI, United States 03-30-13

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    45
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    587
    22
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    FOLLOWING
    4
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    Performance
    Story
    "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


    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrea Pennsylvania 04-12-13
    Andrea Pennsylvania 04-12-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    48
    ratings
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  •  
    Kenneth Carrollton, TX, United States 03-27-13
    Kenneth Carrollton, TX, United States 03-27-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    66
    ratings
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    Performance
    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 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grace 05-13-13
    Grace 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
    30
    ratings
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    132
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    3
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  •  
    Bruce Herr Santa Fe, New Mexico 04-05-13
    Bruce Herr Santa Fe, New Mexico 04-05-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
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    "A debacle"
    What disappointed you about The Burgess Boys?

    Unlikeable characters, poorly thought out plot (really none, at all), banal writing, melodramatic reading.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    American Pastoral


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

    Only if the book was well written


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

    None. Really a waste of time.


    Any additional comments?

    I read this on faith because Olive Kitteridge was so good. Ms Strout should stick to what she does best—short stories.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betsy Durham, NC, United States 03-31-13
    Betsy Durham, NC, United States 03-31-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    3
    1
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    0
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    Story
    "bad Maine accent"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The narrator. There is a comment in the story that people who imitate Maine accents are excruciating for Mainers to hear. This is the case with this narrator. The story really needs to be read by a native Mainer.


    Would you recommend The Burgess Boys to your friends? Why or why not?

    No. Because of the narrator.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Her Maine accent sounds nothing like the real thing.


    Was The Burgess Boys worth the listening time?

    Yes, because the story is engrossing.


    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DeShanda 04-08-13
    DeShanda 04-08-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    12
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    "Horrible!"
    Would you try another book from Elizabeth Strout and/or Cassandra Campbell?

    NO


    Would you ever listen to anything by Elizabeth Strout again?

    NO


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

    NO


    What character would you cut from The Burgess Boys?

    None


    Any additional comments?

    The story was confussing & slow. The voice of the narrator was boring. The different accents were just bad.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • monsaraz
    4/10/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Engrossing"

    Engrossing story, beautifully read, delineating all the characters so well. While basically a family drama, also covers issues of large scale immigration to a part of the US already in decline.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • N. Bowring
    Sussex
    1/17/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Authentic characters make for a gripping listen"

    After a tragic childhood accident, the Burgess children’s lives and personalities have all been deeply affected; not just in the ways in which their lives have turned out, but particularly in the way they respond to and treat each other. This has a knock-on effect on the sister Susan’s son, Zach and his actions threaten to destroy not only his own life but race-relations in their local community.
    Elizabeth Strout has a rare talent for portraying her characters, not only as 3 dimensional, but as whole, totally believable people. As in real life, nobody is totally good (though Bob comes close to that description) or bad.
    A narrator can make or break a book. Cassandra Campbell enhances this audiobook by bringing to life each character with its own instantly recognisable voice.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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