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When We Were Orphans Audiobook

When We Were Orphans

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Publisher's Summary

Christopher Banks, an English boy born in early-20th-century Shanghai, is orphaned at age nine when both his mother and father disappear under suspicious circumstances. He grows up to become a renowned detective, and more than 20 years later, returns to Shanghai to solve the mystery of the disappearances.

Within the layers of the narrative told in Christopher's precise, slightly detached voice are revealed what he can't, or wont, see: that the simplest desires, a child's for his parents, a man's for understanding, may give rise to the most complicated truths.

A feat of narrative skill and soaring imagination, When We Were Orphans is Kazuo Ishiguro at his brilliant best.

©2000 Kazuo Ishiguro; (P)2000 Books on Tape, Inc. and HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"John Lee conveys both Banks' intelligence and his uneasy depths in this fine performance, which far surpasses the print version as a reading experience." (AudioFile)

"Goes much further than even The Remains of the Day in its examination of the roles we've had handed to us... His fullest achievement yet." (The New York Times Book Review)

"With his characteristic finesse, Mr. Ishiguro infuses what seems like a classic adventure story with an ineffable tinge of strangeness." (The Wall Street Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (302 )
5 star
 (91)
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.9 (163 )
5 star
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
4.3 (165 )
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
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Everett Leiter New York, NY 05-26-06
    Everett Leiter New York, NY 05-26-06 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    350
    ratings
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    129
    49
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    11
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    Overall
    "Just short of 5 stars"

    This was a thoroughly enjoyable read...whatever is the equivalent of a "page turner" in audibooks. Part of the pleasure comes from the way the narrator, Christopher Banks, looks back on his life and tries to piece together his faded memories. The way that Ishiguro writes this is what makes it so enjoyable. The book is full of colorful recollections of a childhood in Shanghai, as well as a series of adventures as Banks returns as an adult to try to discover how and why his parents had disappeared (thereby making him an orphan) when he was a young child in Shanghai. He undertakes his quest just as the Japanese are invading Shanghai in the late 1930's and parts of the city are war zones with terrible destruction and danger. His insistence on endangering not only himself, but everyone who offers him assistance, sometimes struck me as implausible. Perhaps, I am missing an obvious point being made about the protagonist, but this was the one shortcoming of the novel and the reason I gave it 4 stars, rather than 5. It's really a terrific book to listen to, and the narration is superb. Highly recommended.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Boston, MA, United States 02-13-10
    Jim Boston, MA, United States 02-13-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    163
    ratings
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    153
    31
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    4
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    Overall
    "A Great book well read"

    I've read other listeners' comments that the audio quality was bad and, perhaps its been corrected, but the quality and editing on the version I downloaded in Feb. 2010 was great. As for the dropped pot lines, I'm simply baffled. This is not by any stretch a typical mystery novel and perhaps those comments were submitted by disappointed fans of tidy stories where all details are wrapped up in the last chapter by the omniscient sleuth - who usually gets the girl. Here, our hero is a flawed, accidental, and sometimes pompous, British imperialist who just happens to be a detective but is really just a man trying to understand his place in pre-WWII history in Shanghai. Ultimately he is just an orphan who is trying to find out what happened to his parents who disappeared when he was just a boy. A great novel set in an all too neglected setting in 20th century Asia.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan D. Wray OR 01-06-15
    Joan D. Wray OR 01-06-15 Member Since 2014

    Sylvia

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    31
    7
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    "Brilliant author, perfectly read."

    I am reading all books by this amazing author, after rereading "Remains of the Day".

    This novel and the narrator were a perfect match.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mslamin Bedford, TX 09-20-10
    mslamin Bedford, TX 09-20-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    38
    4
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    1
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    Overall
    "A Lovely Reading...."

    John Lee is a superb narrator. His flawless expertise with a myriad of accents provides an unparalleled listening experience. Moreover, I am a fan of Ishiguro's writing, sometimes a dreamy, flowing experience which lends itself well to being read aloud. So, I'm happy with my choice here.

    However. WHY did audible.com announce at the beginning of my download---in a very chirpy kids' chorus--AUDIBLE KIDS!! Did someone look at the title of this novel and incorrectly ASSUME this was a children's book? What happened, Audible??

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Publius Florida Orlando, FL 12-22-08
    Publius Florida Orlando, FL 12-22-08

    Fight the Power

    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
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    199
    10
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    1
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    Overall
    "Interesting book but POOR production"

    Someone decided that all it takes to make an audiobook is to DUMP the CDs to a audio file. They were WRONG.
    DON'T buy a book that is broken into multiple files in MID-SENTENCE. They didn't care, why should you!

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 04-24-16
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 04-24-16 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    500
    388
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    8
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    "Something Different"

    from Isihiguro, but intensely engaging and well-written. He does what he always does best: creates a dynamic little world and peoples it with incredibly believable and engaging characters. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RDP 01-16-11
    RDP 01-16-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
    ratings
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    278
    17
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    0
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    Overall
    "Unconvincing"

    Well read, but the plot is completely unbelievable to the point of being absurd. For me, it was a waste of time, even if I admire other Ishiguro novels.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nina Shipley 07-02-16 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Slow boring slog"
    What would have made When We Were Orphans better?

    This book had so many insignificant details it did not hold my attention. I deleted all the books on my wish list by this author after I suffered through more than 4 hours of listening hoping it would get better. It did not.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Kazuo Ishiguro again?

    no


    Would you be willing to try another one of John Lee’s performances?

    no


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-06-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
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    18
    10
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    0
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    Performance
    Story
    "contrived"

    Certainly unexpected turn of events and the book is not predictable in any way. However, the storyline never really develops. I always felt like the climax or the actual point of the book would be reached. It was a disappointing read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eva Sydney, Australia 10-09-15
    eva Sydney, Australia 10-09-15 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    15
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    "Splendid read"

    What a beautifully crafted poignant story!! Loved it. Highly recommended as I do all his books!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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