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Publisher's Summary

In this loose retelling of Howard's End, Zadie Smith considers the big questions: Why do we fall in love with the people we do? Why do we visit our mistakes on our children? What makes life truly beautiful?

Set in New England mainly and London partly, On Beauty concerns a pair of feuding families - the Belseys and the Kippses - and a clutch of doomed affairs. It puts low morals among high ideals and asks some searching questions about what life does to love. For the Belseys and the Kippses, the confusions - both personal and political - of our uncertain age are about to be brought close to home: right to the heart of family.

©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

"[A] thoroughly original tale about families and generational change, about race and multiculturalism in millennial America, about love and identity and the ways they are affected by the passage of time. Ms. Smith possesses a captivating authorial voice - at once authoritative and nonchalant, and capacious enough to accommodate high moral seriousness, laid-back humor and virtually everything in between - and in these pages, she uses that voice to enormous effect, giving us that rare thing: a novel that is as affecting as it is entertaining, as provocative as it is humane." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

"Oh happy day when a writer as gifted as Zadie Smith fulfills her early promise with a novel as accomplished, substantive and penetrating as On Beauty. It's a thing of beauty indeed. In tackling grown-up issues of marriage, adultery, race, class, liberalism and aesthetics, she thrillingly balances engaging ideas with equally engaging characters. As good as she is with big ideas, Smith is even stronger at capturing family dynamics, the heartbreak of broken trust as well as the lovely connections between siblings. (The Los Angeles Times Book Review)

"In this sharp, engaging satire, beauty's only skin-deep, but funny cuts to the bone." (Kirkus Reviews

What listeners say about On Beauty

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 3 Stars
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Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 Stars
    71
  • 3 Stars
    30
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Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 Stars
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  • 3 Stars
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • 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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

6 people found this 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.

5 people found this 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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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 people found this 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 people found this 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 people found this 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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful