Christodora

A Novel
Length: 17 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,336 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this vivid and compelling novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse set of characters whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan's East Village, the Christodora.

The Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions. Their neighbor, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now a lonely addict, becomes connected to Milly and Jared's lives in ways none of them can anticipate. Meanwhile, Milly and Jared's adopted son Mateo grows to see the opportunity for both self-realization and oblivion that New York offers.

As the junkies and protesters of the 1980s give way to the hipsters of the 2000s and they, in turn, to the wealthy residents of the crowded, glass-towered city of the 2020s, enormous changes rock the personal lives of Milly and Jared and the constellation of people around them.

Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a true response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself.

©2016 Tim Murphy (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"It's said that any ensemble cast is only as strong as its weakest member, and in this audio performance, there's not a weak link to be found. Each narrator in the group brings something unique and enjoyable to the production.... Thought-provoking, precise, complex, and real, Christodora's narrators are a glorious reflection of the novel itself." ( AudioFile)
What members say
Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Ambitious

Chirstadora is a very ambitious book. Like the folks who purchase and renovate the Christadora, the motives behind the effort are good, pure, and admirable. But like the characters, the writer can’t escape his own preconceived ideas about class, mental illness, race, and addiction. The use of multiple narrators helps to ‘guide’ the reader to like certain characters more than others. Some of the characters are painfully one dimensional while others are very well drawn but almost all of them remain annoying and unrelatable. I’m surprised that the community reviewers of this book are questioning the elements of the story that describe AIDS and the history surrounding the public health policies, activism, and therapies. This was the strongest element of the book. Much of the press coverage at the time was pretty localized and I appreciated learning more about what was going on in New York.

The story is interesting and engaging - I kept listening because I wanted to find out what would happen next. I also kept waiting for the, “If these walls could talk” aspect to develop (which it NEVER did!) For most of the time that I listened, I was willing to overlook the cringe worthy stereotyped portrayal of a foster family and the excruciating portrayal of a woman’s deep seated hatred of her mother because the story had me hooked and then the book just stopped. I can’t recommend it even though it made me think and it does contain flashes of brilliance.

48 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The story kept me listening

I bought this off reviews, with no knowledge of the author. I loved the characters and the story; they are very compelling, and kept me going, though I was irritated by some of the narration and writing. A couple of the narrators were excellent, but most were somewhat clunky. Sometimes the reader for the character of Hector had him speak with a Puerto Rican accent, sometimes with an extreme Long Island one. More than one of the narrators? Reads commas like question marks? Which gets old really fast? I found Millie the hardest character to get into because of the narrator. Her voice was so breathy and high that she sounded vapid and insipid. The writing is serviceable. There is a lot of redundancy; it felt as though the author doesn't trust his readers to remember things, so we get the same details multiple times. It feels like a first or second draft at times. That said, though, it's an engaging book with some good history. If you are interested in AIDS history, you should also try The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai, which is an excellent novel about the AIDS crisis in Chicago. The audiobook is a great way to experience it.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Requires Patience at Times but Worth It

I needed patience to get through the early parts of the book that felt like a mash up of Rent and And the Band Played On, but it was worth it. Of all of the sub stories, and as absolutely grim as it was, Hector's story of decent into addiction and extreme promiscuity is one with which I couldn't have emphasized without this work of fiction. Without the surrounding stories, Hector's story would have been unbearable.

11 people found this helpful

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The Christodora

Too long ... too depressing ... I enjoyed the characters, but overall I found this story 'scatterbrained'.

20 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Title is more of a state of mind then a place

Having lived in New York through the HIV/ AIDS epidemic it was odd to read a book that had a number of characters based on people I knew and worked with. When the author focuses on the people in that part of the story, I found myself listening more intently. 'The Plague' and it's aftermath is still a riveting narrative of a people, place and time.

Unfortunately "Christodora" is mostly about several, not very interesting people, whose lives are only peripheraly affected by AIDS with the major exceptions of Hector, the Puerto Rican activist, Anna, his intial boss at the NY Health Department and Isabel, the Latina girl from Queens who becomes infected with HIV and then finds her voice in the movement to fight AIDS. Each, while important, are bascally secondary to the story.

The bulk of "Christodora" centers on Milly, the artist daughter of Anna and her adopted son Mateo, Isabel's secret son, who grows up to be an artist also. The conflict between mother and son forms much of the book and neither were interesting enough for me to care about. Both were so self-centered in their own way that I wanted to shake them and say 'grow up!'

The various narrators didn't help much either. Both the readers of Milly and Mateo seemed to emphasize the characters blandness and Anna's played to the worst of the upper-middle class Jewish stereotypes. Upper East Side New York by way the the European shtetl. Even more offensively, given that Tim Murphy is himself gay, ALL the the gay characters sounded like they were each competing for a knock off of "Ru Paul's Drag Race". I haven't heard this much bitchy dialogue since the last time I was at 'Lips' in the village. Only the woman speaking for Isabel gave her the fiery passion and heartbreaking loneliness this young, scard, proud girl deserved.

After finishing "Christodora" I had the image of Eighth Street in the village, once so vibrant and hip, then commercial and now just filled with boarded up shops with 'For Rent' signs all over.


25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Mo

Finished it in about a week. Really enjoyed the shift among different characters' first-person accounts .

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very Honest and Accurate but not for everyone

I figure I'm around the same age as the author judging from the timeline of this novel. Spanning from the 1980's through today and beyond, I identified with a number of the characters and situations that they went through. Drug addiction, living through the early years of HIV/AIDS Activism, dealing with adoption, these are just a few of the topics dealt with in a very honest, and sometimes brutal, way. Tim Murphy is a gifted writer and deftly jumps back and forth through time, weaving and incredible tale of love, loneliness, addiction and recovery, and basic human desires. I listened to this in about 3 sittings, only stopping to sleep. I was fully immersed in this somewhat tragic yet vivid novel. I Highly recommend this novel, well worth the credit.

I just fell in love with the characters. The narration was beyond incredible. All narrators brought their A game when performing. Most I have heard before from other books, they each brought to life the intricate nuances of each character. Wow... just WOW. I didn't want it to end.

45 people found this helpful

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Ambitious and Important

Full disclosure, this novel is graphic, and probably won't be everyone's cup of tea. Vivid descriptions of addiction, sex, and illness tear through the chapters of this incredibly moving, but difficult listen. Tim Murphy's writing is so fluid and so descriptive, it evokes the genuine essence and spirit of New York City. As a current resident, I found myself torn between loving and hating this remarkable city I call home. Christodora is truly an immersive audio experience as seven powerhouse narrators team up to provide remarkable depth to a handful diverse characters – from an upper-middle class Jewish couple, to a meth-addicted Puerto Rican man who was once revered for his activism during the HIV/AIDs crisis of the 80s and 90s – as their lives interweave at different points over the course of 40 years.

35 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Whoa Where Did THAT Come From?

Beautiful and painful, this book sucked me in and took me somewhere else, even if it is just somewhere else in the city I live in. By the end I had cried, seriously cried several times and I can't remember ever shedding tears while reading a book. I so identified with the main character I started to feel what she felt and it's been a while since a book took me close to that. The only thing I wish is that a couple of he characters were more developed ....but really I just adored it.

27 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Really didn't expect it to be this good.

Books with multiple characters and time frames often turn into mush at some point and are hard to follow, contrived or boring. This one is different. I wasn't sure about it for the first few hours, but then instead of deteriorating, it got terrific. A number of the characters are so real I thought about them when I wasn't listening. Definitely 5-stars for this accomplishment.

The narrators stayed in the background for me. I didn't pay attention to them at all but was purely focused on the story line. That's sort of amazing. The differences when a cast narrates can often be distracting and it was not at all the case. Another 5 stars here.

I think this is really a book about understanding and acceptance. I didn't find it to be depressing at all. Rather, I found it to be a terrific explanation of why people sometimes do what they do. And even when you don't agree with the behavior, you can at least see how they arrived at it. No, it's not neat and tidy. But neither is life.

45 people found this helpful