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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, March 2013 - Jim and Bob Burgess escaped their Maine hometown just as soon as they could…but now their nephew’s ‘antics’ have brought them back home where they’re forced to relive the accident that killed their father and deal with the (not-so-pretty) realities of their relationships. Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her last book, Olive Kitteridge, which I loved, so my expectations were high for this new novel. Similar to Olive, the protagonists here aren’t necessarily likeable, but the character studies are so insightful, so raw and real, you can’t help but be drawn in – especially with Cassandra Campbell at the helm. —Diana D., Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan - the Burgess sibling who stayed behind - urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.

With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with listeners long after the ausiobook is over. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.

©2013 Elizabeth Strout (P)2013 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Deeply human... Though loneliness and loss haunt these pages, Strout also supplies gentle humor and a nourishing dose of hope.” (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Interesting but sad

Holds ones attention despite being about a dysfunctional family. Existential sadness which narrator's voice and style reinforces.

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Wonderful

It is nice to read a book with well developed characters that are middle-aged. Very teal

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Burgess Boys is an odd story with unique characters.

It started out very slow. Did not like Helen, she was so self absorbed. Would not recommend.

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Now In My Worst Books List

13+ hours of book and nothing happens. I finally turned the reading speed to 1.25 just to get through. I stuck with it to the end, because I stupidly held out hope that there was a purpose to the story. The actual story ended 2 hours before the book. There never was, and then it ended. I do not think I have to like characters to like the book, but I do want to see their story complete.There were at least 5 characters that just sort of disappeared in this book. If they were not important, don't write them in. Especially with long descriptions of their life history. It did nothing to move the story along. Then there were the scenes that had no purpose. My favorite example of this is Jim's itching peeling feet. Why did Ms Strout write that scene, and what editor left it in there? Lastly, we started with a mother and daughter discussing the Burgess family and the daughter deciding to write that story. The epilogue might have tied us back to that, but there was no epilogue.
Although Cassandra Campbell is usually a great reader, she read this so slowly it made a bad situation even worse.

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Just kept waiting for the plot to liven up!

I read this novel after David Sedaris recommended another book by this author. The story is intricate and a portrait of the difficulties in every family. I just kept waiting for the big bombshell and it never came. Interesting enough to pass the time but not a favorite.

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Elizabeth Strout is a genius at capturing the deep but subtle nuance of relationships.

I thought Olive Kitteridge was as a master work, but I found The Burgess Boys even more compelling. The reader is brilliant and perfectly captures the Maine-ness that is such an essential element of this thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable novel.

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Pointless

Can't believe I wasted 12 hrs of my life listening to a story that as interesting as watching paint dry

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Boring. Nothing noteworthy happens.<br />

It is as if someone was bored and decided to record the day to day goings on and then published it as a book so they could bore more people.

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Love Strout, this wounded family not so much

I hung on to the end but the payoff was not worth the pain of witnessing the cruelty contained in this story. Give me Sarah Barton and her mother any day.

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Well written BUT

The characters were so unlikeable I struggled to finish. I would not purchase again even at special price.