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Publisher's Summary

From one of our most powerful writers, a work of stunning frankness about losing a daughter. Richly textured with bits of her own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo, this new book by Joan Didion examines her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness, and growing old.

Blue Nights opens on July 26, 2010, as Didion thinks back to Quintana’s wedding in New York seven years before. Today would be her wedding anniversary. This fact triggers vivid snapshots of Quintana’s childhood—in Malibu, in Brentwood, at school in Holmby Hills. Reflecting on her daughter but also on her role as a parent, Didion asks the candid questions any parent might about how she feels she failed, either because cues were not taken or perhaps displaced. “How could I have missed what was clearly there to be seen?” Finally, perhaps we all remain unknown to each other. Seamlessly woven in are incidents Didion sees as underscoring her own age, something she finds hard to acknowledge, much less accept.

Blue Nights—the long, light evening hours that signal the summer solstice, “the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but also its warning”—like The Year of Magical Thinking before it, is an iconic book of incisive and electric honesty, haunting and profoundly moving.

©2011 Joan Didion (P)2011 Random House

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Extremely moving memoir, well-narrated

I was so moved by this very beautiful memoir. The author tells the story of the loss of her beloved daughter with great intensity and lyrical beauty without an ounce of pity or sentimentality. It has music, rhythm and beautiful images to connect thoughts and emotions directly to the reader and to her experience of loss. This is a profound story of loss and of aging that memorializes the beloved child while connecting to the fading of her own life. I can only say that this book reached directly into my heart and soul and hit me in all of my senses. The author expresses thoughts and feelings with so much power and grace. The reader is excellent and reads with a speed and pace that matches the text and understands its rhythms. Highly recommended.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

terrific book

If you could sum up Blue Nights in three words, what would they be?

Didion makes you live in her skin

Who was your favorite character and why?

Joan Didion is the dominant character in the book. It is through her eyes that you see her daughter, her husband, parents and others of her circle. You feel as much as if you are in her skin as if it was a fictional tale with her being the fictional narrator.

What does Kimberly Farr bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

Didion is a great writer. I am sure the book would be excellent in print form. Farr is a very good narrator. I was so sorry that the book was over.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I think it was the repetition, including the repitition of Quintana's remembered questions of her adoptive mother,

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • DENVER, CO, United States
  • 12-05-11

Thought-provoking, chilling & endearing

What did you love best about Blue Nights?

Joan Didion ~ again!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Joan Didion represented to me ~ in only ways that she can articulate ~ what it means to be a mother and what it means to be in the 'third chapter' of life. Her insights about the incidents and passages in life that we think are important as they are happening, in contrast to what, upon reflection and after the fact, are actually important, are exquisite.

What about Kimberly Farr’s performance did you like?

I thought it was outstanding. At times I forgot that I was not listening to Joan Didion's voice.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The entire story is moving, but the ending touched me to the bone.

Any additional comments?

I recommend this book whether on audio or in print.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jessie
  • OAKLAND, CA, United States
  • 03-10-12

Read it in a day I liked it so much.

What made the experience of listening to Blue Nights the most enjoyable?

I loved the writing and the tale.

What did you like best about this story?

I believed it.

Which character – as performed by Kimberly Farr – was your favorite?

The mother.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The relationship between the mother and her daughter was painful and powerful all at the same time.

Any additional comments?

If you like Joan Didian, you'll like this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sean
  • BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States
  • 12-20-11

A touching, revealing tribute

I read this just after finishing The Year of Magical Thinking and enjoyed both very much. The author reveals depths of parental doubt rarely acknowledged by modern parents.

The book contains reminiscences and reflections about the life and death of the author's adopted daughter who died after a prolonged illness in her mid-thirties. They are roughly chronologic, but there does not seem to be a particular meaning to the order of presentation. It feels more like someone pawing through a box of photographs. She paints a vivid picture of her daughter and her loss without being melodramatic or morose. A parent who loses a child is entitled to self-pity, but these moments are brief and poignant.

She discusses both her own difficulties about becoming a parent and her daughter's problems with bipolar disorder and the inevitable baggage of adoption. It is charming to hear how naive and vulnerable Mrs. Didion was about parenting and the passages detailing her daughter's bipolar episodes are heart-wrenching.

The book was very emotionally touching because she includes so many personal details and everyday events that you really feel like a family friend. Somehow, acknowledging so many doubts and flaws makes her not only sympathetic, but also capable--because she is engaging her problems.

The performance is very good. Clear and sincere without being too dramatic.

I would recommend the book to anyone interested in the grieving process or the difficulty of parenting.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Not for Sissies

As a screenwriter, Joan Didion and her husband wrote the script for "Play it as it Lays." As a widow, she tells it like it is in her memoir of loss and aging, "Blue Nights." This is not an easy book to read, and not for those who decry negative thinking and believe in the magic of medicine. Didion knows better, and in her spare, carefully chosen words describes the process of unrecoverable diminishment and death in a way no one else has dared. No sentimentality, no upbeat insistence, just the truth. Those who enjoyed Didion in her prime, and in theirs, will find that this book speaks to them with stunning honesty.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

wonderful tribute of a mother's love of her child

having lost an only child I identified with Joan looking back over the memories - looking for a clue or sign to help understand the lost of a child along with some regrets & things you might have done differently. The book is a tribute to a mother's love for her child.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Richard
  • New Haven, CT, United States
  • 12-05-11

very worthwile

Would you listen to Blue Nights again? Why?

Yes, because it is poetic and well read.

What other book might you compare Blue Nights to and why?

The Year of Magical Thinking. Both are beautifully written and convey a sense of honesty and bravery.

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

No

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A book about grief, love, adoption and getting older.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Haunting

Only those people that have experienced the death of their child can truly understand the pain that Joan Didion tried to express in this story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jane
  • Summerville, SC, United States
  • 01-09-12

Moving to hear thoughts, feelings of great writer

Would you listen to Blue Nights again? Why?

Yes. I will listen to it again.

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

Pauses. Time to let thoughts sink in.

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

No more emotional than Didion's thoughts themselves, which, by their starkness, are moving. Often through their repetition.

Any additional comments?

Waiting for the next writings by Joan Didion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful