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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 (1163 )
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4.6 (682 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amanda Roanoke, TX, USA 03-18-08
    Amanda Roanoke, TX, USA 03-18-08 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing!"

    Although I had read the book in print, the narration of this audiobook moved me to tears multiple times. I was stunned at how much of the story and emotion I had missed in the print book. Ruby Dee did a phenominal job as the narrator. I can't imagine this book read by anyone else.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Schwarzkopf 05-09-11 Member Since 2006
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    "Outstanding"

    Narrator Ruby Dee made this book come to life in a variety of voices, emotions, and moods. This book is poetry with a complex main character. It's a definite "must read" for book clubs.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tracy thatcher, AZ, United States 02-26-10
    tracy thatcher, AZ, United States 02-26-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Book Before it's Time"

    I think listening to this book really added to the atmosphere of the writing. The reader was SOOO good! I think it would be harder to understand if I had just tried to read it myself. It is written in black southern dialect. -- I can't believe this book was written in 1934. It was definitely way before it's time. I liked the characters and I liked the message of being who you want to be, not just what everyone else wants you to be. --There were funny parts, sad parts, and somewhat intense parts. This book is definitely a five star read!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mel USA 04-06-15
    Mel USA 04-06-15 Member Since 2009
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    "perfection"


    My sister-in-law and I share books, since we have similar tastes. In our latest conversation I suggested a few I'd just finished -- she gave me Their Eyes Were Watching God.

    Uhhh...I have to admit, it was not one I wanted to read, and had in fact removed it from my TBR list. Why? Because I tried to watch the Harpo Production in 2005 and didn't feel it (hated it; nod to Sandy's review). The production felt like a piece extrapolated from art twisted for a motive. There was a sense of arrogance to the production, like that you feel when someone thinks they can improve on great art, and goes on to disprove that haughtiness by giving Mona Lisa a bigger smile. I feel vindicated for my harsh opinion -- I don't like to feel like a meany -- by the reviews I just read concerning that debacle:
    "Catering to its TV audience, the film largely avoided the more controversial themes of race, gender, and power. "[Wikipedia]
    Karen Valby of Entertainment Weekly comments, "While the book chews on meaty questions of race and identity, the movie largely resigns itself to the realm of sudsy romance."
    New York Times critic Virginia Heffernan writes, "the film is less a literary tribute than a visual fix of Harlequin Romance: Black Southern Series—all sensual soft-core scenes and contemporary, accessible language."
    *ouch-ouch-ouch* My purpose in bringing this up is that I had been so turned against this book I was never going to read it, and what a shame. Maybe this will change someone else's mind that turned the channel that day back in 2005.

    But, when my sis-in-law said it was her favorite book of all time, I'm always excited to get a recommendation that someone is passionate about. Oh; not Proust, Nabokov, etc., those tomes that intellectuals can discuss together for years...I know they are great gifted writers. I've read them, I get it. But, I can't help but have an affection for the rare humble books that seem to be less about an author's abilities, and more a revelation from their heart. The kind of book so beautiful in its simplicity that it's a piece of the writer's soul that resonates in the reader. Those are the gems you find just once in a while; TEWWG is one of those rarities.

    I'm not going to even attempt to describe the book; it would all feel like hyperbole that would cheapen my experience. 10 people can stand in front of a painting and see it differently; read a book and give a different * rating; sip a wine and give you everything from sooty, woodsy, to fruity. If I would have missed this book, I'd have missed one of the best *reading* experiences I've ever had. My caveat here is: I listened to Ruby Dee read this and that made all the difference in the world. Hurston's words come through Dee, and it was amazing. When I think back, I could almost swear my memories are from being in this place with these people -- not just listening to a book. I'll warn that in some spots it's hard to understand Miss Dee, just because she is speaking in the vernacular of another time, another culture (1937) and I don't hear well with one ear.
    *FYI: I never did figure out the name...it's Tea Cake, yes it is.

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelby Moreno Valley, CA, USA 12-07-08
    Shelby Moreno Valley, CA, USA 12-07-08
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    "Don't miss this one!"

    If you fail to give this one a try you are only cheating yourself out a wonderful experience! A beautifully written story that is fabulously narrated! Definitely will be on my list of "all time favorites".

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol 08-25-13
    Carol 08-25-13
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    "A book about Nothing!"

    I do not write many reviews but bought this book after every reviewer had given it 5 stars, and I felt i had to give a different opinion. I was not able to get through the book as it just seemed to go on forever about nothing. Janie did not seem to have many problems in life and in fact had it pretty easy. The reading was wonderfully done but I found the negro accent extremely irritating. I know it is set in a different era, but our ears aren't used to hearing that sort of speech any more.
    One of the most overrated books I have ever listened to!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patty Great falls, VA, United States 10-08-12
    Patty Great falls, VA, United States 10-08-12 Member Since 2011
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    "A great read!"
    What made the experience of listening to Their Eyes Were Watching God the most enjoyable?

    The narrators voice and cadence was captivating. She draws the reader into the world of the "old south".


    What did you like best about this story?

    I felt, along with the characters, the influence of the culture on the main character. Her struggle to do the right thing for her grandmother vs keeping her individuality and meeting her oen needs for love and respect are palpable.


    Have you listened to any of Ruby Dee’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but she is right on par withToni Morrison's reading of her book "Beloved". I will look for her performances in my future search to find a good audio book.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra LI New York 09-20-12
    Sandra LI New York 09-20-12 Member Since 2013

    Bookworm

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    "At Long Last, Love"

    I can't remember a time that I've ever enjoyed a story, more. Ruby Dee is a classic. No one could have narrated Ms Hurston's novel, better. I downloaded this book for the IPOD in my kitchen and also in my automobile. (I just couldn't stop enjoying it.) Definitely, what is known as a page turner. Years ago, I read this book when I was still in school. But, I don't believe that I appreciated the beauty of it until now. Every line, poetic.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Candace ISLESBORO, ME, United States 05-12-12
    Candace ISLESBORO, ME, United States 05-12-12 Member Since 2011

    I live on an island off the coast of Maine. Since I installed a "doggie door" I am now retired from "Letting The Dogs In and Out"!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Ruby Dee could read the phone book ..."
    If you could sum up Their Eyes Were Watching God in three words, what would they be?

    Ruby Dee could read the phone book and make it come to life!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Janie, the main character. Ruby Dee gives her life and makes you feel Janie's joy and sob for her sorrows.


    Have you listened to any of Ruby Dee’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Excellent as usual...when Ruby Dee narrates she makes the story come alive.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I felt joy, panic and sorrow.


    Any additional comments?

    it was a good story with a great narration. I am recommending it to my family and friends. I could have listened to another 10 hours.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca 10-23-11
    Rebecca 10-23-11 Member Since 2009

    Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Run to get this book"

    Wonderful. I'd heard about this book for awhile, and picked up to listen too while traveling.

    Janie, a black woman in Florida, tells her story to her friend Phoeby. Janie's life is in three phases - each phase is her marriage to a different man - Logan, Jody and Tea Cake. Loved the story of a strong woman who does find love, and the fabulous characters and dialog.

    Ruby Dee's narration was fabulous and made the book all the more incredible.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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