Gingerbread

A Novel
Narrated by: Helen Oyeyemi
Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (170 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Exhilarating... A wildly imagined, head-spinning, deeply intelligent novel." (The New York Times Book Review)

"[W]ildly inventive…. [Helen Oyeyemi's] 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
Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

5 people found this 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!

4 people found this helpful

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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.

3 people found this helpful

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Exquisite

This book, and the narration by the author, are simply exquisite. It is not a quick read/listen, it's more something to savor in small increments. Give yourself time to digest this story. Also, the review by purplebrain gets it right - the author's voice is absolutely vital to the story. This is one of the few times I would say it is more important to listen than to read. I would love to explore this author's other works, but won't until she herself records them.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Um what?

I honestly couldn’t tell you what this was about. It’s cute and quirky, but honestly...

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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The most beautifully written pile of nonsense ever.

I’m not sure how to describe my strong reaction to this book... the performance was perfect and the writing is stunningly beautiful and gripping... and yet, I really disliked this story. The plot was nonsensical and there entire time I was hoping it would somehow form a story arc soon... or that it would just end. Eventually it did the latter.

1 person found this helpful

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Intriguing but Unimpressive

I love an alternative take on a fairy tale but this story has too much going on and yet somehow at the same time not enough to keep me hooked. I was simultaneously confused and underwhelmed. Not bad, but disappointing after high expectations.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautifully confounding!

Helen Oyeyemi reads her wonderfully unusual tale in the way it deserves -- with voice and pacing that keeps you in it throughout. I can't promise you will keep the multitude of characters straight, but it's a great ride. More than once I found myself smiling and shaking my head, but also shedding a tear at the end.

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Hard to follow and formulaic

This “book” reads like an attempt at a screenplay for the next CW teen series. The narrator can only do one voice, so the whirlwind of underdeveloped characters is impossible to keep up with as well.

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So eccentric

And I loved it! It took a while to get used to the author/performer’s accent, but her voice is charming and honestly this is the weirdest, most challenging novel I’ve read/listened to in a while. I feel like I need to immediately re-listen.