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Publisher's Summary

This brilliant and compelling novel is at once a lyrical description of the Fens, a fictional autobiography, and an impassioned defence of history. The narrator, an English schoolteacher, and his interior world of memories combine with the exterior world of the bleak Fenland landscape to produce a multiplicity of stories. Swift weaves together tales of empire building, land reclamation, brewers and lock-keepers to construct a chronicle that spans three centuries.

Waterland is simultaneously a family saga, a novel of provincial life, a social history and a story of adolescent love.

©1983 Graham Swift  (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Story

It takes 2 reads, but the layers seem endless

If you could sum up Waterland in three words, what would they be?

layered, symbolic, internalized

What did you like best about this story?

The narrator. He tells the story as a memory and part internal conversation. He contradicts himself, because he is working through trauma. How the novel's structure mimics trauma is impressive and interesting to work through. The way he works through his trauma, the reader goes through it with him.

Which character – as performed by Christian Rodska – was your favorite?

No standouts. He does a good job making different voices for different characters.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It is best to, in order to pick up on the repetitions and parallels, which made the novel impressive.

Any additional comments?

The main plot is set during the narrators childhood, this memory is triggered by his current experiences. He frames the story with paralleled stories of the history of the Fens. At first, these historical stories are tough to attach to the main story--especially because of their lengths, but on the second read everything fits. It simply takes 2 reads. <br/>The book questions reality and history--whether they are truly created and organized to distract us from the world's emptiness.

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Brilliant author, provocative style, great performance

In my second reading of this book, I also listened along (using whispersync). Graham Swift's flashbacks and flash forwards, with occasional historical interludes were fascinating and captivating. I think the spoken version alone might be difficult, especially for the first read. I recommend reading along.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Eccles
  • 07-20-15

Flat lands but no flat story

Where does Waterland rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Its not the best book I've listened to but it is riveting and a page turner

What was one of the most memorable moments of Waterland?

The description of the flooded fenland and the effect it had on the local inhabitants

Which character – as performed by Christian Rodska – was your favourite?

They were all done so well it is impossible to choose. Perhaps the narrator came over most convincingly

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

In a land of water where water rules lives, life is as unpredictable as the waters.

Any additional comments?

The way this book is structured is a little difficult to follow at first, but once used to the way of it, becomes an important factor in the suspense. A slight niggle for me was the end which I felt was a bit drawn-out. Otherwise a well written gripping story.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Martin Minter
  • 11-01-16

A picture of rural England

A intriguing story of generations living on the Fens. Quite deep at times, but I felt a real warmth towards the characters involved. It had a similar feeling to a wartime Ealing studios film. It could have moved more quickly at times, but that may have taken away some of the period atmosphere. Not a fast read, though engrossing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Helen
  • 03-28-16

Brilliantly narrated and fascinating story

I have recently moved to the Fens and this story has made me feel right at home. I absolutely loved it, beautifully written and narrated.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • croc fan
  • 10-15-16

Brilliant

I can't recommend this book highly enough! Superb reading complimented the excellent story. Such rich use of language.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Judith
  • 06-07-12

Woven words

A richly vivid tapestry of images and characters, brought to life by a compelling reading, it's almost a long lyric poem.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 10-27-17

The idea was better than the execution

I listened to this having read in a film review that Christopher Nolan was influenced by this book. And you can indeed see the influences with intercutting narratives over multiple timelines.

So the book is an interesting literary exercise, but the story didn't engage me at all. I could also have done without the incest, eels, and smut in the second half of the book.

The narrator does the best he can with the material.