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Publisher's Summary

Fate takes many forms.

When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey named Beatrice and Virgil and the epic journey they undertake together.

With all the spirit and originality that made Life of Pi so beloved, this brilliant new novel takes the reader on a haunting odyssey. On the way, Martel asks profound questions about life and art, truth and deception, responsibility and complicity.

©2010 Yann Martel (P)2010 Random House

Critic Reviews

"[A] fable-type story with iceberg-deep dimensions reaching far below the surface of its general premise." ( Booklist)

What members say

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  • Overall

Excellent writing and reading, but...

This is the saddest book I have ever read! It struck my soul to its core. Because I read for pleasure as well as education I cannot recommend this book to anyone who does not want to be affected on such a level, however the writing and reading is undeniably excellent! It uncovers the horrors of the holocaust in a new and, at first, unrecognizable way. Then hits you with slow creeping revelations.

40 of 41 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Love and Death Await: Wake Up!

The negative listener reviews nearly convinced me not to listen. But my sister had read the book and was so affected that she called needing someone to talk to about it. Having been prepared for something awful to happen, I could let the book happen, to be carried along by the narrator whose voice and tone I liked very much. The book is deeply affecting and haunting--the contrast between the palpable love the narrator conveys in the voices of Beatrice and Virgil and the horror of the story increase its effect. I cannot say I completely understand the ending of the book; but I remember having the same feeling at the end of Life of Pi. The author almost lulls you into a feeling of safety and then springs a trap. There is no escape. Suddenly life is revealed for what it really is. You cannot pretend or sleep through it. To survive, you have to wake up. And even this may not be enough. But that is what is most true. It is, I think, the author's intention not to make things easy. And it is the nature of parables to reveal their meanings only over time. So I encourage anyone interested in Yann Martel's work to take a listen. Like the hero of the story, I miss Beatrice and Virgil. You may, too.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I don't do reviews

If you expect life of pi 2 forget it.If you expect to get uplifted and smile at a great end, forget it.
If you want to search your soul as a human being
then read it. Good luck and thanks to the author.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great auditory reading

Mark Bramhall did an excellent job reading the book. He is now one of my three favorite readers, the other two being Joe Barrett and Campbell Scott.
The story was interesting a kept me involved. Not as good as PI, but still quality writing. It will definately appeal to the morbid soul.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Anastasia
  • Peachtree City, GA United States
  • 11-06-12

A Study in Human Psychology

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book to people who are interested in the study of human behavior. There are instances where the book is very dark and disturbing because the author goes to great lengths to describe torturous acts in finite detail. For that reason, I would caution readers who are looking for a light, "beach" book to stay away from this one.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The author did an excellent job of weaving all of the characters into one story with an ending that is very unexpected. There were subtle hints throughout the tale that were revealed as much more important details once the end comes into view. Although I would have added one other element to the summarizing chapter, the author chose an excellent ending!

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

I really enjoy Mr. Bramhall's voice interpretations of the characters. With each different inflection, he captures an essence of a person in the form of the character so that the reader can visualize him/her. It was not difficult to determine in which voice Mr. Bramhall was speaking.

If you could rename Beatrice and Virgil, what would you call it?

Wow. I wouldn't begin to think that my literary skills are near Yann Martel's. But to answer the question, I might venture to title the book "Measure of a Man" (not to be confused with Martin Luther King, Jr. or Sidney Poitier's work). It seems to me that the taxidermist was taking stock of his entire life and trying to put it into words. A comparison, if you will, so as to "measure" the things in his past to those of the prince in the story that was referenced early on; perhaps he was seeking his own redemption through the play.

Any additional comments?

This story is excellent and I enjoyed 85 - 90% of the content. I really could have done without some of the more gruesome descriptions as I have a tender heart for people and animals. However, I also understand that none of us will never know the full extent of the atrocities that took place during the horrific historical event that is the back story for this literary work. In light of that, I am sure that what was described is a drop in the bucket to what actually happened.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


Reading this book, with the exception of some really interesting passages like the description of the pear, was torture. The graphic depiction of the torture of animals, metaphoric though it was, was just impossible for me to listen to once I saw where it was going. For those of us like me who read and enjoyed the quirky Life of Pi, and based on the somewhat whimsical nature of this book's cover art, this story unfolded in an unexpected and devastating fashion. I don't like putting the sort of images that Mr. Martel created into my head, where they will remain. I felt blindsided.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • Champaign, IL, United States
  • 05-01-10

Make an informed decision to read this

Not a beach read, but if you need to be reminded of the horrors (word used intentionally as those who have read will recognize) of the holocaust in a novel (my pun) way, then this might be for you.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story


Yann Martel never never seems to disappoint. Haunting, eyrie, truthful, and intriguing, you get sucked into the story and he continues to shed light onto vast and difficult topics.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Awesome Book

Yann Martel has gotten something here. I had heard all the hype and read all of the reviews for his earlier book, "Life of Pi" ands decided to give a listen to a book a listen less known.

I was plesantly surprised by this book. His use of Animals as people brings a whole new feel to the story. The animal may say something politically incorrect but the listener does not come to a quick judgement because after all its just an animal.

He integrets the humans into the story by expertly letting the animals tell the story. The conclussion of the story is nothing you may think, it took me by surprise.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read, that is nothing like anything you have ever read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Eve
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 09-10-12

Great story

Would you consider the audio edition of Beatrice and Virgil to be better than the print version?

Not sure as didn't read printed version.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Beatrice and Virgil?

The interesting correlations of examples to events I wouldn't normally put together.

What about Mark Bramhall’s performance did you like?

Great inflection, character voices, speed

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

The last chapter

Any additional comments?

Seemed to be very slow paced book at first. Caught my full attention in the end!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful