The Bird children have an idyllic childhood: a picture-book cottage in a country village, a warm, cosy kitchen filled with love and laughter, sun-drenched afternoons in a rambling garden. But one Easter weekend a tragedy strikes the Bird family that is so devastating it tears them apart.
Many years later something will call them home, back to the house they grew up in - and to what really happened that Easter weekend all those years ago.
©2013 Lisa Jewell (P)2013 W F Howes Ltd
"Poignant, heart-wrenching & beautifully told, the author's best tale yet.” (Sun) “Beautiful, moving and unputdownable” Jojo Moyes on Before I Met You) “Jewell has moved up a gear into David Nicholl’s territory” (Bookseller on The Making of Us)
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This book could have been dismissed as a huge joke if it wasn’t so well written. I was hooked almost from the start and by the time I was about a third of the way in, I found it hard to put down.
I loved the story of this impossibly dysfunctional family, and the characters were surprisingly so believable even after one over-the-top-preposterous-plot-twist after another!
I can’t possibly describe this story in any way that does not make it sound crazy and ridiculous so I won’t – just trust me; it was great!
Oh how I loved this story! I purchased the book as a Kindle/Audible Audio version but to be completely honest I didn't read a page. The narrator (Karina Fernandez) was so spectacular that I wanted nothing more than to listen to her weave the story with each character's individual personality and voice and had trouble pulling myself away when I had to get anything else done. That isn't to say the story itself isn't as wonderful as the narration. This was a perfect combination of an excellent story and the right narrator able to pull off the complicated emotions and circumstances it presented.
The story weaves back and forth in time, from Meg, the oldest Bird child, her daughter and, eventually, her father, sister and brother Rory, cleaning out their mother Lorelei's home back to various Easter weekends over the course of their lives. When we first meet Meg in 2011 we discover that Lorelei was a hoarder (think of the worst possible episode of Hoarders and you'll have a good idea of how badly she lived). As we go back in time we see her sickness evolve from a sort of whimsical, free spirited quirkiness into a brutal, sometimes aggressive need to keep everything until there is literally walls of junk and only one chair she can sit in. She pushes everyone away and refuses to bend or compromise with anyone. This sickness, along with the tragic incident that happened one Easter, pushes each member of the Bird family in opposite directions and effects how each of them develops as a person. We get to see each character battle with their guilt and lack of control and the author really does an astonishing job of presenting the heartache and damage done to them (and that they do to each other) by the circumstances of their lives. We get to see first hand the vicious cycle of mental and, in some cases, physical damage that can cause generations to pass on this sort of problem even as they swear they will be different.
The story also incorporates the email correspondence between Lorelei and an online romantic interest and it is within this correspondence that we get to peek inside Lorelei's scarred heart and mind and see how her life imploded from her own point of view. We learn what really happened that one horrible Easter and her attempts to try and fight her mental illness as much as she can. These parts really broke my heart! The narrator does such a great job of inflecting a false happiness into Lorelei's words as the listener can hear the pain and sadness crack through. Even though Lorelei had hurt those she said she loved most, quite badly at times, I couldn't help wanting to give this fictional character a hug and try to help her. Even being done with the story I still can't get her out of my head!
While I know this sounds just horribly sad it isn't all bad. We do get a sense that things could be different in the future for some of the Birds, if they are willing to get help and help each other heal and move on. Regardless of where these characters might have gone after the story technically ended, the time spent with each of them was quite the journey. I'm always amazed when an author can make me truly feel for their fictional characters and Lisa Jewell definitely did that. I am so excited to see what else she has to offer!
I am a total audiobook addict! I travel quite a bit for work and listen to them while I drive. Always searching for a good author to follow
I loved this story. I am new to Lisa Jewell books and I jus loved it!
I was hooked from the start. It has you on the edge of your seat through most of the story.
I really liked Kaley! She was very honest and said what ever was on her mind
She was fantastic and did different accents and voices for each character.
It made me laugh, cry and even gasp in parts
Well, first off, one of the best narrated books I have ever listened to. Karina Fernandez is amazing! As is Lisa Jewell. This sort of story is my favorite - complex characters dealing with big problems, told with heart and humor and insight. I found this author because JoJo Moyes recommended her and this is my favorite Lisa Jewell book. I can see why not everyone would love it, but I certainly did.
Lorelei, the mother. Her character is written with such brutal truth but also with love.
I did read the book and I loved it. However, I tend to read fast and miss some things. Karina narrates so well that it is a joy to listen to her - and her different accents are very believable. When I listened to the book, I experienced more depth with each character.
so many, but Beth's insights toward the end and her reconciliation with Meg probably the most.
listen. try the sample. hopefully you will love it.
This was a great story told from a variety of viewpoints- from the daughters- to the husband to the lover. I found the insight into the mind of a hoarder to be very eye opening. The way they view possessions as the actual memories instead of the memories most of us hold in our minds. The thought of parting with these possessions is like erasing a memory itself. A very good read.
Exceptional story with a very different perspective, believable and well developed characters,
I already miss the whole crazy lot of them.
And the narration (in spite of the author's overuse of the word tut) was some of the best I've ever heard.
Everything you could want in both a story and a narrator. This narrator is astonishingly brilliant at accents, tone, performance. I loved every second of this. You won't want to stop listening!
I really enjoyed the story and how the dysfunction of several of the characters blossomed throughout the book. I liked the way each chapter covered three time periods, spiraling back and forward in time. It created suspense and allowed me to guess at the thing that would happen next. The narration was well done and made for a very nice commute to and from work.
Loved the audio version but have nothing to compare it to as I did not read the print version
Fantastic look inside the mid of a hoarder. Really felt like I gained some understanding into that particular mental illness.
Awesome twists and turns.
"the house we grew up in"
This is a tapestry of a family who love each other but cant deal with their feelings when tragedy strikes. Each member of the family loses their way, distancing themselves from those who want to help them.
The whole story centres around the mother, Lorelei who starts off bohemian and then descends into eccentricity. Each of her children deal with this in their own ways but never very well, even her husband is lost to her.
The story moves fast, is well read and although it covers sad and poignant moments it is actually quite humourous in parts. The characters are distinct and sympathetic.
An enjoyable listen.
"Thought provoking and beautifully crafted."
A beautifully written story that is very high in the list of audio books I have listened to. In one respect it is about the ups and downs of family life. However, it has a darker side linked to the impact of a family tragedy on all members of the family. It is an example of a book that helps the reader to understand many aspects of life. Each member of the Bird family lives with the feeling that they are responsible for the death of a family member and this impacts on their behaviour and personal happiness. I found the story gave me an insight into why people hoard everything they have reason to value - this was very enlightening. The somewhat Bohemian mother, Lorelie, allows possessions to take over her life. Her friends and family find this so hard to cope with that she eventually dies alone. We learn about her through her internet letters to Jim who she has never met. The relationship they establish is very moving and is like a meeting of two kindred spirits.
The book is exceptionally well read and as such brings the characters to life. This is very helpful in unpicking the feelings and emotions of Lorelie in her letters to Jim.
A very emotional book, full of situations and feelings with which one can easily empathise.
The events are very believable and it is impossible to listen to the narration without being moved. As such there are amusing events and descriptions as well as the tragic and the ugly.
This book has made a very strong impact on me. I enjoyed it as a piece of literature but also as a social statement.
"A real gem brought to life by the narrator."
A wonderful account of how a tragedy tears apart this already slightly dysfunctional family and how in the end time resolves all issues.
The author has managed to create characters which are both believable and likable but the real joy of this book is the wonderful narration by Karina Fenandez .
"Engaging & engrossing."
Tangled family relationships. A mother with obsessive hoarding disorder, which drives her children away, the consequences of which lead to the their dysfunctional relationships of their own. A subject I knew little about. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
"A very true and beautiful story"
I don't know if I had a favorite character. They were all very real, almost tangible.
Karina Fernandez did an amazing job with the accents. I think she was wonderful in all the "roles" and dialogues. I love reading books for myself but in this case the audiobook was probably the better choice.
It did make me laugh a few times but it's not a comical book so that was not so typical of my reactions. I didn't actually cry but I have found this story extremely moving, very sad and even shocking at times. It rings true throughout the whole book, no character or scene ever felt labored or unrealistic.
It's one of the best books I have listened to on Audible.
"wow so many stories in one."
I liked how in depth the story was so many characters and what their lives were from their point which was great.
It was sometimes a bit too jumpy and needed to relisten several time's as it's not a story you can miss a tiny peice of detail. But I felt it was a nice sometimes hard story that can easily be found in a real life family. It was a very moving touching book.
The whole story and how it told you about the Bird family but from all family's point of view.
The emails to and from Jim. She was going to sort herself out.
Oh how lxxxxxxx died.
Great listen, I think I would like to read the book. Gives you a good understanding about a person that needs to hoard and the effect it has on everyone.
"A brilliant book"
This is beautifully written. A compelling story and well read.
Too long for one sitting but I was compelled to listen whenever I could.
"Her best book yet"
I could not stop listening to this. Anyone who has lived or lives in a disfunctional family will relate to this story.
It has lots of twists and turns that will keep you gripped.
I could not choose a favourite as every character had faults
Her ability to perform the various accents, Irish, Australian, Spanish and British - all believable
The woman who could not stop.....
The memories the happy times and sad times.. The relationship's between the character's
When the eldest daughter found out about the affair... And the dad admitted to his new relationship
Both laugh and cry
Felt so sorry for this lady
"Very. Modern story about hoarding"
This is a very clever book looking at the new phenomem of hoarding. Beautifully written and read. Highly recommended
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