• Driving with the Top Down

  • By: Beth Harbison
  • Narrated by: Orlagh Cassidy
  • Length: 9 hrs and 7 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (373 ratings)

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Driving with the Top Down  By  cover art

Driving with the Top Down

By: Beth Harbison
Narrated by: Orlagh Cassidy
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Publisher's Summary

Three women, two weeks, one convertible: Sometimes life doesn't take you in the direction you expect. Colleen Bradley is married with a teenage son, a modest business repurposing and reselling antiques, and longtime fear that she was not her husband's first choice. When she decides to take a road trip down the east coast to check out antique auctions for her business, she also has a secret ulterior motive. Her one-woman mission for peace of mind is thrown slightly off course when 16-year-old Tamara becomes her co-pilot. The daughter of Colleen's brother-in-law, Tamara is aware that when people see her as a screw-up, but she knows in her heart that she's so much more. She just wishes her father could see it, too. The already bumpy trip takes another unexpected turn when they stop at the diner that served as Colleen's college hangout and run into her old friend Bitty Nolan Camalier. Clearly distressed, Bitty gives them a story full of holes: Angry with her husband, she took off on her own, only to have her car stolen. Both Colleen and Tamara sense that there's more that Bitty isn't sharing, but Colleen offers to give Bitty a ride to Florida. So one becomes two becomes three as Colleen, Tamara, and Bitty make their way together down the coast. It's a road trip fraught with tension as Tamara's poor choices come back to haunt her and Bitty's secrets reach a boiling point. With no one to turn to but each other, these three women might just discover that you can get lost in life but somehow, true friends provide a roadmap to finding what you’re really looking for.

©2014 Beth Harbison (P)2014 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about Driving with the Top Down

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

Good Road Trip Tale

Colleen Bradley feels a strong need to get away from her home, her husband and her son for awhile. As the owner of her own antique store she write this off; both figuratively and literally as a business trip. Then at the eleventh hour she gets a traveling companion her niece Tamara. The sixteen year old girl is a 'hot mess' and inwardly Colleen moans at the thought of the next two weeks with the moody, churlish teen. The girl is the daughter of her husband's brother; product of a one night stand who'd had no contact with her father prior to her mother's death; distant and strained described their relationship aptly.
The pair take off and drive from Maryland to North Carolina; stopping at a rural restaurant that was Colleen's old college hangout. As they sit down to eat Colleen begins to tell Tamara a little about her old friend Bitty; the name an homage to her petite frame. Amazingly Colleen spots a woman who looks like an aged version of Bitty.
Bitty Nolan Camalier is at the old college haunt in order to kill herself. After twenty years of verbal and emotional abuse her husband has tossed her out of their home. Thus after having been essentially an appendage for twenty years she has been suddenly transformed into nothing more than an amputated body part.
When Colleen leaves the restaurant two has become three and though this is resented by Tamara all three women will find their lives forever altered by the two weeks they spend together.
This is an excellent audiobook; five stars all the way.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely loved this book!!

I've read all of Beth Harbison's books and have liked most of them. However, after being sorely disappointed with the last 2 that I read (When In Doubt, Add Butter & Chose The Wrong Guy, Gave Him The Wrong Finger), I was reluctant to spend a credit on this one. I'm thrilled to say that this book is Beth Harbison at her best - great story, as well as characters with depth that I cared about & could relate to. Orlagh Cassidy did an excellent job, as usual, as narrator. I definitely recommend Driving With The Top Down!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, narrator, and characters!

what a great book! this was my first Beth Harbison book but it won't be my last. I enjoyed the storyline, characters, and the narratir was spot on!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Hard to unplug!!

Would you consider the audio edition of Driving with the Top Down to be better than the print version?

I enjoyed the audible because the reader gave the characters personality.

What did you like best about this story?

The characters overcame obstacles and all came out winners. Happy endings all around.

Which scene was your favorite?

The characters let their guards down, sharing some of their true selves while playing a Truth or Dare kind of game.

Who was the most memorable character of Driving with the Top Down and why?

The lead character--showed compassion and wisdom and helped the others overcome their difficult situations.

Any additional comments?

I usually listen to my Audible selections in my car while I am running errands, but with this book, I was so interested in the characters, I continued to listen after I returned home. It was a true "page turner" for me.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Reader Beware: Soft-Core Porn chapter at the end

I LOVED this book, loved the story of self-discovery, of friendship and family, loved it ALL. Until one of the last chapters. That’s when I found myself dropped into a porn novel. The sex scene is vivid, it’s descriptive with words that make me blush. I’m glad I had on headphones, but goodness, I’m sure my face was beet red. I’m not sure I was prepared for that. I typically don’t read reviews before purchasing a book so I don’t know if someone else posted a warning. In that case, I will. This book has 5 stars all over it if that chapter could have significantly toned down the sex scene. Oh. My. Word.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good, light read

Fluffy happy fun, good beach book between the mystery and horror I normally read :)

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected

I generally love her books, but this one was slow and I found myself really bored halfway through the book

1 person found this helpful

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

It about broke my heart

Any father should have more understanding for his daughter than that one did. The story was good but about broke my heart. I loved the humor of the two old friends getting together and talking about old times. I would love to see some of the things that were made of the stuff purchased on that road trip. Looking good.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Pleasantly lightweight

It's a nice diversion, something to listen to while doing something else. Kind of predictable. Mostly G-rated, except for one extremely detailed sex scene toward the end that because of its explicit nature didn't fit with the rest of the book. The narrator was a bit inconsistent with her accents; while she mostly nailed the Valley-girl twang of the teen-ager, she slipped in and out of a semi-southern accent for one of the adults.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Love is the Theme

I really enjoyed the three women characters in this book and their interactions with each other, especially that between Colleen and Tamara. Bitty makes for a wonderful counterpoint to the Colleen and Tamara. It's pretty obvious what the ending is going to be but still the writer keeps the reader interested. It's a gentle story of love and forgiveness. I gave it a three because I found the writing somewhat flat at times but the narration was very good and kept me interested.

I do recommend this book.