Your audiobook is waiting…

On Beauty

Narrated by: Peter Francis James
Length: 18 hrs and 45 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
3.5 out of 5 stars (614 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

Howard Belsey, a Rembrandt scholar who doesn't like Rembrandt, is an Englishman abroad and a long-suffering professor at Wellington, a liberal New England arts college. He has been married for 30 years to Kiki, an American woman who no longer resembles the sexy activist she once was. Their three children passionately pursue their own paths: Levi quests after authentic blackness, Zora believes that intellectuals can redeem everybody, and Jerome struggles to be a believer in a family of strict atheists. Faced with the oppressive enthusiasms of his children, Howard feels that the first two acts of his life are over and he has no clear plans for the finale. Or the encore.

Then Jerome, Howard's older son, falls for Victoria, the stunning daughter of the right-wing icon Monty Kipps, and the two families find themselves thrown together in a beautiful corner of America, enacting a cultural and personal war against the background of real wars that they barely register. An infidelity, a death, and a legacy set in motion a chain of events that sees all parties forced to examine the unarticulated assumptions which underpin their lives. How do you choose the work on which to spend your life? Why do you love the people you love? Do you really believe what you claim to? And what is the beautiful thing, and how far will you go to get it?

Set on both sides of the Atlantic, Zadie Smith's third novel is a brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and political, and an honest look at people's deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed.

©2005 Zadie Smith (P)2005 Penguin Audio, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., and BBC Audiobooks America

Critic Reviews

  • 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction
  • 2005 Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award, Fiction

"[Smith's] wonderful ear for dialogue, as well as her uncanny ability to inhabit characters from different walks of life, is truly extraordinary." (Bookmarks Magazine)
"A boisterous, funny, poignant, and erudite novel that should firmly establish Smith as a literary force of nature." (Booklist)
"Like Smith's smash debut, White Teeth, this work gathers narrative steam from the clash between two radically different families." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    214
  • 4 Stars
    175
  • 3 Stars
    113
  • 2 Stars
    75
  • 1 Stars
    37

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    100
  • 4 Stars
    60
  • 3 Stars
    24
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    6

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    85
  • 4 Stars
    66
  • 3 Stars
    27
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    9

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

two thumbs up

I thoroughly enjoyed this-- the experience was greatly enhanced by the narration, which was truly outstanding. Great characters & portrait of marriage, family life, the personal and political.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Don't Make it End!

This book is so fabulously written, with rich and poignant metaphor and simile, humor and a
BIG HEART and observant eye for life, that I
find myself listening in the car on the whole
5 minute trip to the high school and back. The
narration is almost as remarkable as the writing! Don't miss this one...and waiting to
find White Teeth and anything else Smith has ever written available on Audible soon!!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Janis
  • Lexington, MA, USA
  • 11-01-05

Well done

This book is marvelous, in part due to the fantastic reading by the narrator. He captures each character's voice and makes them come alive. The book is engrossing, funny and an extremely well done audiobook.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

listening better than reading?

I really enjoyed this audio book -- it's very long, though, so is a major time commitment. I liked it more than friends who read the book liked it, leading me to believe that when you can be carried along by the good performance you can overlook some clunky plot stuff.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Ciara
  • Sunnyside, NY, USA
  • 03-12-07

Only if you're a fan of Smith

I only recommend this if you're a fan of Zadie Smith. The narration is excellent, but like many of her books her characters are the main focus rather than an entralling plot.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous in every way!

Not only was this a deeply engaging story and the characters astutely drawn but the narration was absolutely superb! So few readers actually manage to create distinct and authentic voices for each character but this narrator had AMAZING range across gender, nationality, age, etc. You will absolutely not be disappointed by this listening experience.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

great book

interesting characters, very well written. thoroughly enjoyed this book. if you like high quality fiction, you'll love this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Terrific read

The writing is captivating and the story is intriguing. it is a good illustration of how people exhibit double standards. It is a revealing commentary on academe and is sometimes erotic and sometimes enlightening.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jennifer
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • 12-13-05

Excellent

On Beauty is beautifully written and excellently narrated - I think I heard about fifteen different well-done accents. I loved the plot delving into the academic world and revealing the surprisingly normal and flawed humans residing in it. I couldn't stop listening and will look for the author and narrator again.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Maryjo
  • corte madera, CA, USA
  • 11-04-05

I loved it!

this is a great book by a great author...at times laugh out loud funny, at other times poignant, with uncomfortably familiar human situations...it's great

7 of 8 people found this review helpful