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Their Eyes Were Watching God | [Zora Neale Hurston]

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Why we think it’s a great listen: Zora Neale Hurston’s classic novel begs to be read aloud, and Ruby Dee answers the challenge with utter perfection, capturing the wide range of characters and their diverse accents with grace and power. Their Eyes Were Watching God is the luminous and haunting novel about Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930s, whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for close to 70 years.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: I loved this book when I read it, but it wasn't until I listened to Ruby Dee's performance that I realized how much I had missed. Hurston's book is filled with rural Florida dialect and vernacular that is hard to appreciate on the printed page, but becomes poetry in this glorious recording. Dee paints each character vividly with her rich and velvety voice. —Beth Anderson

Publisher's Summary

Their Eyes Were Watching God, an American classic, is the luminous and haunting novel about Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930s, whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for close to 70 years.

This poetic, graceful love story, rooted in Black folk traditions and steeped in mythic realism, celebrates boldly and brilliantly African-American culture and heritage. And in a powerful, mesmerizing narrative, it pays quiet tribute to a Black woman who, though constricted by the times, still demanded to be heard.

Originally published in 1937 and long out of print, the book was reissued in 1975 and nearly three decades later Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered a seminal novel in American fiction.

©1937 Zora Neale Hurston, Renewed 1965 John C. Hurston and Joel Hurston; (P)1997, 2000, 2004 HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

"For readers who know Hurston's work, this program will be a joy; for those who are lucky and wise enough to discover her here, it will be an exceptional experience." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (1000 )
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4.6 (543 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Leslie sonoma, CA, USA 07-09-06
    Leslie sonoma, CA, USA 07-09-06 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    111
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    "a pleasure"

    This is the story of a woman struggling against the expectations of everyone in her life who is supposed to care for her; her grandmother, the man she wanted her to marry so she would have a "good life" but without love, and the man she ran off with to make a "better life" and what she thought was love, which turned out to be yet another disappointment. It is a bittersweet story, beautifully written with memorable, full-bodied, thought-provoking characters, and expertly read by Ruby Dee. I was pleasantly surprised from beginning to end. If you have a long, tedious project, pop this one in and you will be finished with both before you know it. Definitely recommend!

    26 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Camarillo, CA, USA 10-20-07
    Brian Camarillo, CA, USA 10-20-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A real treat"

    I am new to audiobooks, and while I don't intend to stop actually reading, I now understand how a skilled narration can create a completely different experience for the listener, and enhance the enjoyment of a novel far beyond a simple read. It's a wonderful story and artfully written. But the narration is so well-done that I don't think I would have enjoyed the book as much had I read it myself. Highly recommended.

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harriet Alexandria, VA, United States 07-20-08
    Harriet Alexandria, VA, United States 07-20-08 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sheer Enjoyment !"

    Truer words could not be spoken, when in the introduction, the narrator says, "performed by Ruby Dee". The narrator is none other than Ruby Dee, and her performance is spectacular! I listened to this book with my teenage granddaughter and we were enthralled. I remember when I first read the book while in college, how I frequently read out loud, to audibly hear the voice of the characters of the story. It is a story begging to be read aloud. Ruby Dee masterfully captures all the characters and voices. It is beautiful and mesmerizing. I loved it. This is my all time favorite audio book.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Morris Villa Park, CA, USA 04-04-08
    Morris Villa Park, CA, USA 04-04-08 Member Since 2007

    Actually, I'm Morris's wife, Dawn, an avid reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved It!"

    I have been meanng to read this book for some time, having seen it on so many "recommended" lists. I am a writing teacher and am especially sensitive to the use of language. I was immediately captivated by Hurston's exquisite descriptions and observations about human nature and race relations. I've since bought the book so I can underline the passages I especially love.
    I've listened to many audio books but have never heard a better reader than Ruby Dee. What a wonder she is, making this book come alive with her many varied and realistic voices.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Pleasant Grove, UT, United States 11-03-07
    Charles Pleasant Grove, UT, United States 11-03-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Truth and Suffering"

    This book was so beautifully painful, so wondrously wrought and read with such revelation that there have been few books in my lifetime of reading that have touched me so intensely that I had to stop listing at times to ponder what I was experiencing. And no other than Ruby Dee could have possibly read this book in the manner of a revelation to the listener. Stories need to be told and this book is such telling at it's highest. Even Toni Morisson could not have achieved more!

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer austin, TX, United States 12-22-09
    Jennifer austin, TX, United States 12-22-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Perfect"

    The story itself is not gripping. It's a tragic tale of love long awaited and too soon lost. I usually avoid tragedies, but this came so highly rated that I thought I'd give it a try, and I am so happy I did.
    You know from the beginning that it isn't a happy story, that the love isn't going to end well, but- despite not liking the leading man- you root for the couple and try to find a way around the impending tragedy.
    The writing is heartbreakingly beautiful, with perfect dialect for the characters and breathtaking language in the narration. It combines the colloquial with the esoteric.
    The narrator is perfect. She gives a rich preformance that makes characters out of people who otherwise could be caricatures and gives passion wisdom and heart to the voice of the narration.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Waynesboro, TN, United States 03-11-08
    Amanda Waynesboro, TN, United States 03-11-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
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    "Thank you Ruby Dee"

    I've tried to read Zora Neale Hurston before, gotten ten pages in thinking "wow, she really can write" then put the book down and never picked it up again.

    In audio I was drawn in and listened happily to the end.

    I think this happens a lot to me, that with the voice in my mind I could read other Hurston (or any of a dozen other authors) cheerfully.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer 04-20-13
    Jennifer 04-20-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Ruby Dee is amazing"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book to anyone, particularly the audio book. Not only is this an amazing story beautifully written, but Ruby Dee takes the words and the story and breathes a life into them that I'm not sure I could have managed with my own imagination.


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

    Ruby Dee can read the dialect of the characters in a natural and beautiful way that pulls the deepest meaning and emotion out of their words. The language is poetry to begin with but Ruby Dee adds beauty and emotion to the already powerful words.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Kempner, TX, United States 02-21-10
    Jennifer Kempner, TX, United States 02-21-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Buy it now."

    This book is fantastic. The narrator is one of the best I have ever heard. I didn't want it to end.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth Calgary, Alberta, Canada 03-03-09
    Kenneth Calgary, Alberta, Canada 03-03-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beautiful, poetic, and wonderfully performed!"

    This novel about a black woman in Florida in the 1930s who endures two bad marriages only to find the love of her life, and then to lose him, is beautifully written and a brilliant illumination of a time and place where race relations affected everything. Ruby Dee's performance of the characters is pitch perfect, from the snide commentary of gossipy women to the hilarious antics of men who know just how to stir each other up for an idle laugh on a summer evening. This is one of the best audiobooks I've ever heard.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
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