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Publisher's Summary

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and true identity, how they shape us and how we can survive them. Moving from Northwest London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.

Two brown girls dream of being dancers - but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early 20s, never to be revisited but never quite forgotten, either....

©2016 Zadie Smith (P)2016 Penguin Books Ltd.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A good story, shame about the narrator

Zadie Smith has not disappointed. I wouldn't have imagined following a main character (the narrator) that seems so clueless about the world around her, be it her family, her boss, the African village where she spends weeks, or her erstwhile bff Tracey, but Smith manages to get us to tag along. And at the end of the story, she does seem to connect with reality at last!

What really spoiled my enjoyment was the reader, with her soporific tone. But that wasn't the worst. I just wish she'd refrained from doing accents, they just sounded so off and daft.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Margery
  • 05-17-17

Smith's best yet with perfect narrator

I choose Swing Time because all my friends were raving about it. They were right! This is a gripping, perfectly-paced read which explores our main character's challenging relationships with her mother, employer and - above all - her childhood best friend. There is a toxic dimension to all these key female relationships but Smith excels in showing the complicity and complexity of each. Bennett-Warner provides the perfect reading (especially of our insecure main character) and I hope this will be the first of many recordings for audible.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • NoQlu
  • 12-17-16

Couldn't stop reading

Loved the story, the subtlety of the characterisations and thoughtful insights into race celebrity, power of money. I think this is Zadie Smith's best book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • M. Camm
  • 12-27-16

Tailed off into a confusing narrative

Would you try another book written by Zadie Smith or narrated by Pippa Bennett-Warner?

The narration was fine.

Any additional comments?

The story jumped around a lot and I didn't find the characters likeable. Disappointing.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-08-18

Just brilliant

Acute observations that all can relate to here, characterisation so visual, really didn't want the story to end, sad but true to life events, narrated brilliantly, great read.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-22-18

begins OK, but gets really dull.

This has a few funny observations of life in the 70S / 80S , bit the story is weak, and some chapters too dull to bother with. The characters were pretty much 1dimensional.
boring
don't waste a credit on it

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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
  • Anonymous User
  • 05-04-18

Brilliant

Great writing and a perfect performance. Pippa Bennett-Warner’s read is brilliant. I highly recommend this book.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Rob
  • 04-28-18

Really disappointing, despite a decent narration.

Zadie Smith has long been a writer I’ve admired and often loved, but this book is seriously turgid stuff. You keep waiting to care, and it never comes. The characters are mostly ciphers (often patronising ones), except for the narrator, who’s... well, *nothing*, really. She’s so boring, such a non-person.

Pippa Bennett-Warner does a creditable job (despite being a bit inconsistent with accents: the narrator’s mother often slips from her established light Jamaican-English into Bennett-Warner’s own pleasant default RP), but she can’t save this from being a really disappointing novel.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-28-18

confusing to follow at times

audio kept skipping parts so had to keep going back who h spoilt the story line.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • M. C. Knowles
  • 03-22-18

Interesting cultural trip

Was a bit slow at first but after a few hours I got into it. It was well written and you could relate to the main character. It covered all sorts of life issues too ... wealth, race, politics, culture etc...

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Roswitha G.
  • 03-17-18

Listing

As my first experience of listening to a book, it’s a good introduction, I liked the readers style, and a great storyline to follow.






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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Fiona O'Connell
  • 01-29-17

Mixed feelings

Beautifully written - I love her character details, observations on human nature, family, cultural identity. However the book frequently swings back and forth in time and place which I find difficult with an audiobook. I found the early 'Tracy' period very engaging but the later Aimee/Africa period was ho-hum. The narrator was outstanding.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 02-18-18

Great reading, okay story

The voice narrator was excellent, especially handling so many accents. The story is uneven - one half of it is great, excellent characterisation, gripping plot, but the second half of the story involving a famous dancer and social enterprise in Africa was dull and the characters felt half-fleshed. It would have been a better book without that plot line!

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • carly
  • 02-15-18

Disappointing

Started of well and looked like it was going to be a good read but then went nowhere. I got so bored about 8 hours in, I gave up. Not recommended if you like an exciting read.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 11-10-17

Deserving Each Other.

I did not like any of the characters. Particularly the main protagonist. Great accents though.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Imogen
  • 06-01-17

incredible!

I loved it. The characters were engaging, the story is light and moves well yet is incredibly insightful and broadens the listener's horizons whilst being entertaining.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Rp125
  • 05-22-17

Too much waffle

This book has some good writing ie about the central relationship between two girls. But all the long winded stuff about Africa was lost on me.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Peter W.
  • 03-25-17

Somewhat unfocussed novel, brilliant performance

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

To the right friend, definitely.

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

I'm thinking I should go back and read the end again. A really successful novel ends with at least a suggestion of shifting to a different level achieving the focus that was implicit through the workings of the story. I did not get this at the end of swing time but I'm wondering if it was my fault so A re-read is called for.

Which character – as performed by Pippa Bennett-Warner – was your favourite?

Tracy - frighteningly forceful, sharp, Smart and confronting, and Bennet-Warner's rendering had Tracy leaping from my device.

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

Most of the encounters with the main character's father, who was also extremely well captured by Bennet-Warner.

Any additional comments?

Overall I found the main character a bit depressing - always ready to be led, often bullied, and seemed to spend most of her life with bullying characters (her mother, Tracy, the dreadful Aimee). The narrator never really got my sympathy or became endearing in any way. Never seemed to find her own feet. (All this may be modified when I re-read the last couple of chapters - if so I'll come back and report the fact.)

On the other hand, ZS brilliantly captured all sorts of issues that are screaming at us in today's society - race, class, poverty, overseas aid, celebrity, the individual versus the social being - all captured in amazingly succinct fashion. For that I thank her and remain on her readers list.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Aoife
  • 02-16-17

Hard to follow on Audio

I was a little disappointed as it was quite hard to follow with all of the flicking back and forth in time.
Tracey was a fairly awful person and yet the main character still referred to her as her 'spirit sister'. It seemed inconsistent and the main character didn't really seem to have any real personality or own interests or dreams of her own.
Maybe it's better to read the paperback

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Prue Benjamin
  • 02-16-17

Wonderful but long

Would you listen to Swing Time again? Why?

Yes. Mainly because the narration was absolutely fantastic.

What did you like best about this story?

The way the narrator brought everyone in the story to life.

What about Pippa Bennett-Warner’s performance did you like?

Her different accents were flawless