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Publisher's Summary

The beloved author of Refuge returns with a work that explodes and startles, illuminates and celebrates.

Terry Tempest Williams's mother told her: "I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won't look at them until after I'm gone."

Fans of Williams's iconic and unconventional memoir, Refuge, well remember that mother. She was a member of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah who developed cancer as a result of the nuclear testing in nearby Nevada. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as what she found when the time came to read them.

They were exactly where she said they would be: three shelves of beautiful cloth-bound books.... "I opened the first journal. It was empty. I opened the second journal. It was empty. I opened the third. It too was empty.... Shelf after shelf after shelf, all of my mother's journals were blank."

What did Williams's mother mean by that? In 54 chapters that unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty, Williams creates a lyrical and caring meditation of the mystery of her mother's journals. When Women Were Birds is a kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question "What does it mean to have a voice?"

©2012 Terry Tempest Williams (P)2012 Wind Over The Earth

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

She helped me find my voice

Being a transplant into Mormon culture, I've seen this struggle in my friends. I admire Terry's poetic nature, her strong, moving vocabulary, and the power she give me, or rather, helps me find inside myself after finishing one of her books. I love listening to her speak. her flow, her rhythm, simply beautiful. she and I have a lot in common. I look to her when I need words. I read this after my mother passed. it helped me cope with her passing. I admire the women in her family.

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A discovery.

There are many topics and issues in this work, still, unexpectedly, it came together as a complete whole.
'When Women Were Birds' is part memoir, part natural history writing, part clear-eyed social commentary, and all poetry.
The writer does a very fine job of narrating her own writing, which adds dimension to the listening experience. Enjoyable to listen to, and gives much food for contemplation.

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Wonderful story read by its author.

I am glad that I was introduced to Terry Tempest Williams in this book. It is a wonderful book about womanhood in the Mormon community of Utah. How does a woman communicate when her religious tradition insists that she remain silent? How does this religious tradition live out in the relationship that Mormons have with the land? It helps that the book is read by its author, as her inflection is important in giving you a sense of her true feelings. That is as valuable as the words themselves.

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I cut the sound off after listening for 2 minutes!

Would you try another book from Terry Tempest Williams and/or Terry Tempest Williams?

Not if she were the narrator.

What could Terry Tempest Williams have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Get a great narrator, with a more soothing voice.

How could the performance have been better?

Voice sounded itchy and scratchy at times

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

I purchased this book and I really loved the read! I thought I'd listen to it narrated by the author, but It threw me for a loop!

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Chick flick read

This was not what I thought it would be.... But it turned into a more interesting read than I expected. It's always curious to hear how other parts of the world live and function in comparison to your own upbringing.

Her values and the different issues that surround women do have interesting points and she brings a unique observation and perspective to what women face vs. men. I would recommend this book for other women and for men, if they are open to issues that ONLY women face.



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Touched My Soul

This is testament to being a wife, a daughter and a woman in an age where it was difficult to know which way to go. It is about experiencing the death of all the strong women in your family and not knowing how to reconcile that with your life. I bought the book for my mother for her 85th birthday. She will love it!

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Wonderful writing!

If you like first person narrative and enjoy autobiography, you'll love this book. It's articulate, thought provoking and beautifully written. I immediately listened to it again, and the second time I actually wrote down some of her beautiful imagery and insights. I highly recommend it. It would make an awesome book club selection.

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  • Diana
  • Antelope Valley, CA, United States
  • 06-12-14

Power. Change. Awareness. An Experience.

When I first downloaded this Audible book, I wasn't ready for it. I was in the midst of a comedy and action jag to offset some educational books.

But we need balance. This quiet and powerful book offers the balance we need in days of rushing and stressing and filling in minutes with sound or movies. This book offers the gift of introspection, self-examination, contemplation of life and the world.

How can one person take the same words we all have access to and put them together in such meaningful sentences? How can an author take the same thoughts and experiences we have all had at some point . . . the mistakes, regrets, wrong turns, hopes, goals, and warm moments . . . and put these thoughts in words that become a book like a painting is created with strokes and dabs of color.

When I was done with the funny and action books, I turned back to Terry Tempest Williams' book, and listened with awe to her rich and quiet and solemn voice.

It is both a look inside a Human and at all Humanity at once.

It is a special experience to go through this book and when I reached the end I knew I had been touched and changed.

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Narration Didn't work for Me

Any additional comments?

I listed to a few chapters and couldn't get into the book. I do think the Narrator's voice just didn't work for me. I returned it after four chapters so it may have improved.

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ocd

Would you try another book from Terry Tempest Williams and/or Terry Tempest Williams?

no

Would you ever listen to anything by Terry Tempest Williams again?

no

What didn’t you like about Terry Tempest Williams’s performance?

too quiet

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

boredom for her endless lists and repetitions. Maybe written to satisfy the ocd (obsessive compulsive disorder) in the reader. 3 chapters was more than enough for me. done done done

Any additional comments?

no