We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
When We Were Orphans Audiobook

When We Were Orphans

Regular Price:$28.51
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

Christopher Banks, an English boy born in early-20th-century Shanghai, is orphaned at age nine when both his mother and father disappear under suspicious circumstances. He grows up to become a renowned detective, and more than 20 years later, returns to Shanghai to solve the mystery of the disappearances.

Within the layers of the narrative told in Christopher's precise, slightly detached voice are revealed what he can't, or wont, see: that the simplest desires, a child's for his parents, a man's for understanding, may give rise to the most complicated truths.

A feat of narrative skill and soaring imagination, When We Were Orphans is Kazuo Ishiguro at his brilliant best.

©2000 Kazuo Ishiguro; (P)2000 Books on Tape, Inc. and HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"John Lee conveys both Banks' intelligence and his uneasy depths in this fine performance, which far surpasses the print version as a reading experience." (AudioFile)

"Goes much further than even The Remains of the Day in its examination of the roles we've had handed to us... His fullest achievement yet." (The New York Times Book Review)

"With his characteristic finesse, Mr. Ishiguro infuses what seems like a classic adventure story with an ineffable tinge of strangeness." (The Wall Street Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (346 )
5 star
 (112)
4 star
 (118)
3 star
 (85)
2 star
 (21)
1 star
 (10)
Overall
3.9 (206 )
5 star
 (75)
4 star
 (62)
3 star
 (51)
2 star
 (14)
1 star
 (4)
Story
4.3 (208 )
5 star
 (117)
4 star
 (56)
3 star
 (27)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (3)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Everett Leiter New York, NY 05-26-06
    Everett Leiter New York, NY 05-26-06 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    370
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    129
    49
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    10
    0
    Overall
    "Just short of 5 stars"

    This was a thoroughly enjoyable read...whatever is the equivalent of a "page turner" in audibooks. Part of the pleasure comes from the way the narrator, Christopher Banks, looks back on his life and tries to piece together his faded memories. The way that Ishiguro writes this is what makes it so enjoyable. The book is full of colorful recollections of a childhood in Shanghai, as well as a series of adventures as Banks returns as an adult to try to discover how and why his parents had disappeared (thereby making him an orphan) when he was a young child in Shanghai. He undertakes his quest just as the Japanese are invading Shanghai in the late 1930's and parts of the city are war zones with terrible destruction and danger. His insistence on endangering not only himself, but everyone who offers him assistance, sometimes struck me as implausible. Perhaps, I am missing an obvious point being made about the protagonist, but this was the one shortcoming of the novel and the reason I gave it 4 stars, rather than 5. It's really a terrific book to listen to, and the narration is superb. Highly recommended.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Boston, MA, United States 02-13-10
    Jim Boston, MA, United States 02-13-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    170
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    168
    32
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    "A Great book well read"

    I've read other listeners' comments that the audio quality was bad and, perhaps its been corrected, but the quality and editing on the version I downloaded in Feb. 2010 was great. As for the dropped pot lines, I'm simply baffled. This is not by any stretch a typical mystery novel and perhaps those comments were submitted by disappointed fans of tidy stories where all details are wrapped up in the last chapter by the omniscient sleuth - who usually gets the girl. Here, our hero is a flawed, accidental, and sometimes pompous, British imperialist who just happens to be a detective but is really just a man trying to understand his place in pre-WWII history in Shanghai. Ultimately he is just an orphan who is trying to find out what happened to his parents who disappeared when he was just a boy. A great novel set in an all too neglected setting in 20th century Asia.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan D. Wray OR 01-06-15
    Joan D. Wray OR 01-06-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    33
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant author, perfectly read."

    I am reading all books by this amazing author, after rereading "Remains of the Day".

    This novel and the narrator were a perfect match.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mslamin Bedford, TX 09-20-10
    mslamin Bedford, TX 09-20-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    46
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "A Lovely Reading...."

    John Lee is a superb narrator. His flawless expertise with a myriad of accents provides an unparalleled listening experience. Moreover, I am a fan of Ishiguro's writing, sometimes a dreamy, flowing experience which lends itself well to being read aloud. So, I'm happy with my choice here.

    However. WHY did audible.com announce at the beginning of my download---in a very chirpy kids' chorus--AUDIBLE KIDS!! Did someone look at the title of this novel and incorrectly ASSUME this was a children's book? What happened, Audible??

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Publius Florida Orlando, FL 12-22-08
    Publius Florida Orlando, FL 12-22-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    210
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Interesting book but POOR production"

    Someone decided that all it takes to make an audiobook is to DUMP the CDs to a audio file. They were WRONG.
    DON'T buy a book that is broken into multiple files in MID-SENTENCE. They didn't care, why should you!

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas 04-24-16
    Douglas 04-24-16 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2843
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    525
    413
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    426
    8
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Something Different"

    from Isihiguro, but intensely engaging and well-written. He does what he always does best: creates a dynamic little world and peoples it with incredibly believable and engaging characters. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pinky 07-21-15
    Pinky 07-21-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    14
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "It will haunt me forever"

    Quite gripping and disturbing novel. I wasn't able to put it down...or turn it off, as it were. A remarkable book and the narration splendid. It will haunt me.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RDP 01-16-11
    RDP 01-16-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    287
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Unconvincing"

    Well read, but the plot is completely unbelievable to the point of being absurd. For me, it was a waste of time, even if I admire other Ishiguro novels.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Dale Foster Sykesville, MD 10-20-17
    Pamela Dale Foster Sykesville, MD 10-20-17 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    601
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    262
    252
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    58
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Truth"

    A young boy goes to England to live with his aunt because both of his parent's have disappeared. However, there is a twist. As a boy growing up in Shanghai but becoming a man in England, he finds himself back in Shanghai finding a truth he had not known. Well written. John Lee is an excellent narrator who makes the characters come alive. There is intrigue and suspense. Was a book worth listening to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Churchill arlington, va, usa 10-19-17
    Churchill arlington, va, usa 10-19-17 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    32
    22
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "heartbreaking and compelling"

    When We Were Orphans is not a detective story, it is a story about love and loss as seen through the eyes of a chlld who parents were "disappeared" when he was just a boy. His decision to become a detective is motivated by his unreasonable belief that his parents are waiting to be rescued, that they are somehow frozen in time c.onfident that when he becomes a man he will find them. Christopher Banks is surrounded by orphans, the woman he almost runs away with and the child he adopts. He is also surrounded by evil , an impending World War and a father figure who along with his own father, sets in motion the catastrophic event that will shape his life. Christopher's adventures match those games he played with his childhood friend Akura--triumph over the bad guys but seem part of that childhood fantasy world. He learns that his mother's love never waivered, her citment to his protection was the motivation for her own life and it is time for him to live his life as a man. A remarkable book as we observe Christopher making decisions, observing with his magnifying glass but not really seeing reality. . .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.