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The Sheltering Sky | [Paul Bowles]

The Sheltering Sky

The Sheltering Sky is a landmark of 20th-century literature, a novel of existential despair that examines the limits of humanity when it touches the unfathomable emptiness of the desert. Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream) gives masterful voice to this American classic.
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Publisher's Summary

The Sheltering Sky is a landmark of 20th-century literature, a novel of existential despair that examines the limits of humanity when it touches the unfathomable emptiness of the desert. Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream) gives masterful voice to this American classic.

This fascinating story follows three American travelers, a married couple and their friend, as they find themselves adrift in the cities and deserts of North Africa after World War II. Along the walkabout, their ignorance of the dangers that surround them peels back the veneer of their lives. The author’s life as an expatriate in the North African nation of Morocco informed his rendering of the desert, which itself is a cruel, unforgiving character in the novel.

“Paul Bowles’ writing is so extraordinary, so special,” Ms. Connelly said. “The landscapes are magical, the characters are questioning so much – it’s haunting in a very beautiful way.”

The Sheltering Sky is part of Audible’s A-List Collection, featuring the world’s most celebrated actors narrating distinguished works of literature that each star helped select. For more great books performed by Hollywood’s finest, click here.


©1949 Paul Bowles (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (202 )
5 star
 (56)
4 star
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3 star
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Overall
3.6 (185 )
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Story
4.2 (182 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (9)
Performance
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  •  
    michael king LINCOLN, NE, United States 05-25-12
    michael king LINCOLN, NE, United States 05-25-12 Member Since 2006

    prefers the darker side of fiction

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "bowles's best?"
    Any additional comments?

    really wanted to like this story, but it simply didn't work for me. i love a well-written tale of despair and this certainly fits the description, but i found myself waiting for it to end. if you like your fiction dark (I do) and value writing over story (I don't), this might work out better for you.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chrissie Brussels, Belgium 01-04-13
    Chrissie Brussels, Belgium 01-04-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good narration but the story could be improved!"

    What exactly is the author trying to say with this book? Is he selling us existentialism through this novel? Perhaps. What is he saying about the central couple’s relationship, both with each and with their friends? This too is unclear. The two main protagonists are trying to reach out to each other, but do they succeed? This circles back to the author’s philosophical message. Perhaps it is enough that the book draws our attention to these questions. The answers are not clear.

    What does the author want to say with the title? This too is unclear, but worth discussion.

    The first half of the book is very different from the second half. I do not feel the two hold together. The first half focuses on philosophy. The first half has many parallels with Camus’ “The Stranger”. Both are set in Africa, one in Morocco and the other in Algeria. There is a streetcar in both. In neither is it the individuals that control their lives, but rather the other way around. Life just happens and you must submit. The second half has a completely different style of writing. You switch from philosophical analysis to a plot oriented, adventure story reminiscent of “One Thousand and One Nights”. Depending on your preferences you will like one or the other…..but not both.

    The audiobook narration by Jennifer Connelly is very well done. She distinguishes between English and American characters. They do make you smile…. Maybe this is because I now live in Europe? French, English and Arabic languages are used; this is done adroitly. The languages are not translated. Although I don’t see this as a problem, I was happy that I easily understood the French. The slang chosen felt genuine; that is exactly how people would express themselves.

    A central theme of the book is the difference between travelers and tourists. In fact this is why I chose the book, having myself lived in different countries. The main protagonists see themselves as travelers, but I felt they acted often as tourists. Rather than being curious about a new environment and culture they were d-i-s-g-u-s-t-e-d and apathetic. They couldn’t possibly have thought that the difficulties that arose and the filth they saw were anything but to be expected! They seemed to be looking for a clean problem free journey. This seems terribly illogical. Part of this IS explained by the difference between the man and the women, and it is interesting to consider which one of them really was the “traveler”.

    There are loose ends in this novel, characters thrown in that one cannot fully understand. What happens to them is left completely unresolved. Nope this was not well done.

    There is quite a bit that can be discussed in this book, but I can only give it two stars. It was not terrible, but just OK.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phil Johnson Walnut Creek, CA USA 05-02-13
    Phil Johnson Walnut Creek, CA USA 05-02-13 Member Since 2007

    #1 Aud Bks: T Help,T Darling, All D Sedaris,Prayer for Owen M.All G Flynn ,Secrt Lang of Bees, Bel Canto, 11/22/63 H2O fr Elephants Dog Star

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What a bunch of screwed up people!"



    Superb performance by the reader.
    I suppose the book itself was evocative of the desert in N. Africa to some extent, but none of the characters were sympathetic. I just wanted to slap them in the face and say "get a grip". They were mostly wallowing in some malaise along the lines of " Oh, the horror, the horror of it all (life)". Pathetic.

    Save your time unless you like (pathetic) losers.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Don Butte, MT, United States 12-23-13
    Don Butte, MT, United States 12-23-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    "Depressilng!"
    What would have made The Sheltering Sky better?

    Not ever being published


    What was most disappointing about Paul Bowles’s story?

    If I want to be this depressed in the future, I'll gamble away my savings.


    Which character – as performed by Jennifer Connelly – was your favorite?

    All three self-centered characters muddle about endlessly; so boring I almost dropped off to sleep while on my daily walk.


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

    Not that I could see.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Mount Pleasant, SC, USA 02-26-13
    William Mount Pleasant, SC, USA 02-26-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Book That Takes an Odd Turn"

    Before I got to part 3 of this book, I was thoroughly enjoying it. The writing is excellent, the characters lively, the story seemed to be going somewhere and the performance by Connelly was superb. Bowles did a wonderful job of giving the reader an idea of what traveling around Africa at that time was like, and being transported to another world is one of the things I love about reading books.

    Then I read part 3 and the entire time I was trying to figure out if I was reading the same book with the same character. What Bowles has Kit go through is out of left field, I just didn't understand and it didn't fit the rest of the story at all.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kirt PALESTINE, TX, United States 10-31-12
    Kirt PALESTINE, TX, United States 10-31-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    3
    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "bad endng"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    This was just not my kinda book. It was a little slow, but I did like the narration


    Would you ever listen to anything by Paul Bowles again?

    Probability not


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Didn't have one


    Did The Sheltering Sky inspire you to do anything?

    No


    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    05-20-12
    05-20-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dull and Monotonous"
    What disappointed you about The Sheltering Sky?

    Uninspiring story, monotonous characters and insipid story. Jennifer Connelly is unable to lift this dull tale into the monumental epoch it is supposed to be


    2 of 13 people found this review helpful
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