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The Burgess Boys Audiobook

The Burgess Boys: A Novel

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Audible Editor 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

What the Critics Say

"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 Rating

3.7 (1063 )
5 star
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4.0 (930 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 01-13-14
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 01-13-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Meandering, unlikable characters... couldn't finis"

    I really enjoyed Elizabeth Strout's "Abide with Me." When I found THe Burgess Boys on Audible, read by Cassandra Campbell, I thought it would be a worthwhile read. I've gotten only 2hrs of the way through, and I... just... don't... care. Strout is a talented author, who can seamlessly weave together strands of everyday life and dialogue into her stories, but I don't like (or cannot relate to) any of the Burgess siblings: Bob is like a wounded puppy, Jim is a big pushy bully, and I just can't figure Susan out (who cares that her tenant stays in her pajamas all day?)
    Many others have read this book and enjoyed it, but I just couldn't with this one. I still have Olive Kitteridge and Amy and Isabelle on my wishlist, so I ahve not given up on this author entirely... but this one just didn't do it for me.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 03-29-15
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 03-29-15 Member Since 2007
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    "Was I supposed to care about these characters?"

    I decided after the first hour that I just didn’t care about the characters in this novel. The first warning sign was when I had to listen to the prologue three times. The first two times, when I got to the end of the chapter, I realized my attention had wandered so much that I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know who was who, who was telling the story about who, what the time frames of the different stories were. I don’t think my confusion was due to anything particularly complex about the story. It’s just that all the people were so bland I couldn’t tell them apart. The characters have the names “Jim” and “Bob” and “Sue” and “Margaret” and “Helen.” Someone has had multiple marriages. Someone has a son that suffered a mysterious tragedy. Or maybe it’s the whole family that has suffered a mysterious tragedy. At the end of the prologue, you are supposed to care enough about these individuals to want to listen to another 13 hours. It reminded me a little bit of the setup in the fabulous “The Dinner” by Herman Koch but without the hilarious snarkiness and unshakeable sense of impending disaster. I don’t know if it was the performance or the book or both, but I simply couldn’t muster up enough interest in the Burgess family to want to know what happened to them.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy from Petaluma 05-01-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too slow for me..."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Maybe the story was going to develop at some point, but I couldn't hang with it long enough to find out!


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine THORNLIE, Australia 10-25-13
    Christine THORNLIE, Australia 10-25-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slow. Naration was very good but the story wasn't"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Substance


    Has The Burgess Boys turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, just this author


    Which scene was your favorite?

    It only became interesting at around chapter eight, but it was short lived.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eran 09-20-17
    Eran 09-20-17 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Its just grow on you..."

    Took me a while to get into the book but then I couldn't put it down. The figures, the narration and the story build this delicate story which you are not sure that you want it to end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacki Carton 08-29-17 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cassie 05-21-17
    Cassie 05-21-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Wonderful"

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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gail P Shelby 02-28-17 Member Since 2017
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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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    InsideADog 01-20-17
    InsideADog 01-20-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tiffany Thompson Washington D.C., USA 12-29-16
    Tiffany Thompson Washington D.C., USA 12-29-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Nancy Bowring
    Sussex
    1/17/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Authentic characters make for a gripping listen"

    After a tragic childhood accident, the Burgess children’s lives and personalities have all been deeply affected; not just in the ways in which their lives have turned out, but particularly in the way they respond to and treat each other. This has a knock-on effect on the sister Susan’s son, Zach and his actions threaten to destroy not only his own life but race-relations in their local community.
    Elizabeth Strout has a rare talent for portraying her characters, not only as 3 dimensional, but as whole, totally believable people. As in real life, nobody is totally good (though Bob comes close to that description) or bad.
    A narrator can make or break a book. Cassandra Campbell enhances this audiobook by bringing to life each character with its own instantly recognisable voice.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Caroline
    Orpington, United Kingdom
    8/26/17
    Overall
    Story
    "Plot and characters very predictable"

    I was disappointed with this book. The story sounded interesting - 3 siblings getting together to come to terms with the death of their father in their childhood. The other theme the book tackles is the relationship between the people in a small town and Somali immigrants. Both of these were very clumsily dealt with as the characters were very shallowly drawn and the plot was so obvious you could have guessed most of it.

    I'd say it's fine for a very easy listen but completely forgettable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ann
    2/27/16
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    "A Fantastic Book"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Burgess Boys to be better than the print version?

    I really enjoyed listening to this book. It allowed me to really listen to the beautiful language and enthralling descriptive sections.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • monsaraz
    4/10/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Engrossing"

    Engrossing story, beautifully read, delineating all the characters so well. While basically a family drama, also covers issues of large scale immigration to a part of the US already in decline.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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