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Publisher's Summary

From the famed halls of the American Museum of Natural History to the opulent parties of Manhattan’s Gilded Age elite to a muddy dig site that may be hiding a groundbreaking discovery, Birdie & Jay is a captivating historical novel that will take you on an unforgettable journey.

Birdie, a young woman born into wealth, has a deep passion for art and science which leads her to a position painting landscape habitats at the new Museum of Natural History. Her mother - who sees this pursuit as a distraction from her daughter’s obligatory society functions - tries to forbid her from the museum, but Birdie’s dedication only grows once she meets Jay, an intelligent Irishman who’s yanked himself up by his dusty bootstraps to join the museum’s elite team of researchers.

Captivated by each other despite their class differences, Birdie and Jay steal away to Central Park each day, where they discuss the work of Darwin and other forces shaping their changing world. When the two are pulled apart for the summer - Jay to an expedition in England that could make or break his career, and Birdie to the mansions of Newport towards more acceptable suitors - both of them will have to fight for what’s right, and for a chance to be together.

A rich blend of the past, passion, and scientific truth-seeking adventure, Birdie & Jay is a powerful story that will transport listeners to an era of both extraordinary risk and glittering opportunity. 

©2019 Ella Joy Olsen (P)2020 Audible Originals, LLC.

Our favorite moments from Birdie and Jay

Jay reads up on adventure and expeditions.
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Jay attends a high society dinner.
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Bea notices Jay and remembers him from the Museum of Natural History.
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  • Birdie and Jay
  • Jay reads up on adventure and expeditions.
  • Birdie and Jay
  • Jay attends a high society dinner.
  • Birdie and Jay
  • Bea notices Jay and remembers him from the Museum of Natural History.

About the Creator

Ella Joy Olsen lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, a charming town tucked at the base of the massive Wasatch Mountains. She is the mom of three (young adult) kids, the mama of two dogs, and the wife of one patient husband. Her novels include: the Audible Original Birdie & Jay, the Historical Novel Society Editors’ Choice Root, Petal, Thorn, and the 15 Bytes Finalist Where the Sweet Bird Sings. She teaches creative writing through Lifelong Learning at the University of Utah and she is part-owner of Salty City Writing Workshops, where she mentors writers and facilitates writing retreats.

About the Performer

Eva Kaminsky is a New York born and NYC-based actor and narrator. A 2014 Audie nominee and 2018 Earphone Award winner, she has recorded over 200 audiobooks in many different genres, though is most well known for her romance work. Eva can often be heard on various national television and radio commercials for products such as Intel, Neulasta, and Publix Supermarkets, and can be seen regularly on the big and small screen as well. She has spent over 25 years working professionally in theater, both on and off Broadway, and extensively in regional theaters all over the country. She was most recently the Year 2 cast of Harry Potter & the Cursed Child on Broadway.

About the Performer

Gerard Doyle’s 40 year acting career spans television, radio, and theater on both sides of the Atlantic, including national and international touring, London’s West End, and Broadway. He has recorded over 400 audio books, in genres ranging from mystery and suspense, fantasy, comedy, non-fiction, and young adult. He has been awarded many Earphones awards from AudioFile magazine, as well as being a several-time nominee and recipient of the coveted Audio Publishers Association "Audie" award.

What listeners say about Birdie and Jay

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A wonderful distraction!

If you are like me, a lot of books these days, whether they intend to or not, draw parallels to the challenges we currently face—be it climate change, political divide, mental health struggles, or pandemics. For example, my book club read Albert Camus’ The Plague last year and now it haunts me every day. Lately I’m drawn to historical fiction as a way to cope. I’ve recently enjoyed Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles and Circe, and am currently reading the third book in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall series. This week, I wanted something to listen to while I readied my house to wait out Covid19. I stumbled upon this Audible original by Ella Joy Olsen. PURE ESCAPE! While I haven’t finished listening yet, it is thoroughly enjoyable and exactly what I was looking for. It is taking far less mental effort than the Mirror and the Light because there are only TWO main characters as opposed to 100! I always love listening to readers with accents, and Jay is brought to life with the intoxicating Irish accent of Gerard Doyle. I am also loving Birdie’s voice read by Eva Kandinsky. Olsen merges romance with scientific discovery-the search for the missing link, a fresh and fun combination. She interlaces beautiful descriptions of time and place with seamless and believable dialogue. Will Jay be successful in his search for the missing link? How will Birdie, a smart, independent and artistic woman, navigate 19th century social confines to pursue her own hopes and dreams? I love the historical details Olsen sprinkles throughout—from her description of Manhattan and the Museum of Natural History to eating Jellybeans for the first time. It is a pleasure to listen to and makes the drudgery of household chores pass easily. I can’t wait to see how the story comes together!

45 people found this helpful

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Historical fiction with depth

From the synopsis, one might conclude that this is a historical romance, but there is a lot more depth to this novel. The two characters that the author brings together are from such different worlds. Birdie, is trapped by expectations of her class and gender. Despite having a mind for art and science, her parents expect her to set her talents aside, and take her place among society. Jay is from a working class Irish family and despite his academic achievements, feels the pain of always having to prove himself. As Jay joins in the race to find "missing links" in the fossils being unearthed, he starts to question the integrity of the scientists he works with, men who are motivated by greed and prestige, and who may even be willing to commit fraud. This was interesting look at a time when the world was caught up in exploring Darwin's theories. The author includes some real life characters from her research and drew inspiration from actual events. Audible recordings are always first rate, and the narration of this novel is no exception. I quite enjoyed the alternating voices of Birdie and Jay, especially Jay's Irish accent. This was quite an enjoyable listen! 

20 people found this helpful

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  • 04-28-20

This is a young adult novel - and not a good one.

This book is marketed to adults but it's a young adult (e.g., middle school) romance leavened with science and history. Very melodramatic, very unbelievable, and very frustrating. It's not a very good middle school romance. I would have returned it midway but once I listened to that much, I felt it was not right to return it.

Since it's a romance it's probably meant for girls (also a frustrating assumption) and I assume the author intended for the heroine to be a feminist pioneer of some sort. But, since the heroine has to be repeatedly rescued by the men in her life - whether the brother, the hero or her butler - it sends the opposite message.
TBH, the heroine is complete idiot. She continually makes utterly ridiculous plans, which for some reason the hero goes along with, The plans predictably (and not humorously - there is no comic relief in this novel) go horribly wrong. She does this repeatedly. It's hard to understand why the hero loves her other than for her looks. So, this aspect is also patriarchal.

There are no shades of grey in the characterizations - bad people are completely bad, frivolous people are completely frivolous, good people are sickeningly boringly good. No one ever cracks a joke. No one ever does anything out of character.

Avoid this book.

14 people found this helpful

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A captivating story!

I loved this book! It captured me from the very beginning and I couldn’t wait to find out how the story would progress and end. I really needed to escape to a different world and time and the book delivered. Beautiful love story and beautifully written.

12 people found this helpful

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The perfect historical fiction love story!

Birdie and Jay is a vivid portrayal of the frivolity of the Gilded Age coupled with the fervor found during the era of the hunt for dinosaurs and of Charles Darwin and emerging evolutionary theories. Both narrators were fabulous, bringing both Birdie and Jay, and their love story, to life. Required for historical fiction and historical romance fans. Think Outlander for the Gilded Age.

9 people found this helpful

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BIRDIE AND JAY - historical fiction at its best!

This is historical fiction that is informative, relatable to present day, and at the same time, delightful!

The story takes place in the "Gilded Age," early 1900"s, with all of its opulence, hubris, inequality, prejudice and racism. It's also the age of flowering science, the exuberant search of discovery, expeditions for knowledge and also fame and riches.

Oh! to discover the "missing link"! Thus the Piltdown Forgery.

The events play out in New York, the Museum of Natural History and Sussex, England at the archeological dig.
The characters are relatable and wonderfully authentic. All senses are enriched with luscious description. The two readers carry you away! And, the tender, determined, "against all odds" love story of Birdie and Jay makes this a terrific listen!

8 people found this helpful

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A great escape!

I needed this book to escape current news. It was such a pleasure to put in my headphones and escape to the Gilded Age and into a story of intrigue, humor and most importantly love. Do yourself a favor, escape with this book!

7 people found this helpful

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Historical fiction

I loved this story. It transported me to a different time time and place. Lived the twists of intrigue, forbidden romance and relatable tangles of family dynamics.

4 people found this helpful

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This story has EVERYTHING!

Romance, History, Mystery, Science, Great Characters, Great Performance, Great Plot -- in short, it's the most delightful book I've listened to in years. If only there were a new title available from Ms. Olsen. Thank you and best wishes for many more stories to follow. Five stars plus!!

4 people found this helpful

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A delightful love story and period piece

Birdie and Jay is a love story for sure! I really liked the 1910 setting in New York. I was so interested in the many birds, the paleontology and the search for the missing link. The impossible romance of a New York debutant and the big, strong, second generation American Irishman made the story especially enjoyable! This novel tickled my heart!

4 people found this helpful