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Gingerbread

A Novel
Narrated by: Helen Oyeyemi
Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

Regular price: $24.50

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Publisher's Summary

"[W]ildly inventive…In Oyeyemi’s hands, a simple premise becomes a story about class, myth, and dark family histories. Her prose is not without its playful bite." (Vogue)

The prize-winning, best-selling author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a bewitching and imaginative novel.

Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories, beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites listeners into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe. 

Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there's the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it's very popular in Druhástrana, the faraway (or, according to many sources, nonexistent) land of Harriet Lee's early youth. The world's truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet's charismatic childhood friend Gretel Kercheval - a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met. 

Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother's long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet's story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi's inimitable style and imagination, it is a true feast for the listener.

©2019 Helen Oyeyemi (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Playful, enchanting...a modern-day fairy tale with a mysterious twist." (Marie Claire)   

"Like a fairy tale tethered to reality, Helen Oyeyemi’s Gingerbread is as warm and piquant as the foodstuff it’s named for.” (Harper’s Bazaar

"[T]he novel's real enchantment is its experimentation with storytelling itself...this book is not only about childhood, but also what it feels like to be a child." (Time

What members say

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  • Overall
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    4 out of 5 stars

Engrossing but a touch confusing

I really enjoyed this book, despite massive confusion at times (it seems to be written purposely that way, however, as the confusion always resolves itself). The book and storytelling is enchanting, clever, and contemporary.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful, Evocative Experience

I feel like a caveman who’s been handed a diamond: You can barely comprehend this strange and wondrous thing, but you know it’s beautiful. And if you turn it ever so slightly, the light finds a new facet and you’re in awe again.

So far, this is the only Oyeyemi novel narrated by the author, and I feel her voice is SO VITAL to the story, I won’t listen to her other books (read by anyone else) - But I WILL buy printed copies and imagine her voice reading them. Dear Audible editors, please re-record her other books with Helen as the narrator! Absolutely deserving of multiple listens!

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Narration difficult to follow

The narrator, tho has a cute sounding voice, tends to split and speak much too fast. Lacks enunciation. Very difficult to follow.

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Maybe the best book I've read ever?

Descriptions that you know to be true, but hadn't put into words before that moment.