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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, read by Chiwetel Ejiofor.

A Sunday Times best seller.

A New York Times best seller.

The spectacular new novel from the best-selling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, ‘one of our greatest living authors.’ (New York Magazine)

Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.

In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone.

Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims?

Lost texts must be found; secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous.

The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.

©2020 Susanna Clarke (P)2020 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"A book to look out for in 2020." (Guardian)

"Just read Susanna Clarke’s extraordinary Piranesi.... Like nothing else." (Justine Jordan, Guardian)

"Piranesi astonished me. It is a miraculous and luminous feat of storytelling, at once a gripping mystery, an adventure through a brilliant new fantasy world, and a deep meditation on the human condition: feeling lost, and being found. I already want to be back in its haunting and beautiful halls!" (Madeline Miller) 

What listeners say about Piranesi

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Strange & Pointless

I read all the raving reviews so I went back & listened to it a 2nd time. I wanted more of “Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” , but this is nothing like that. The world created in this book is not magical, but just boring. The narration was great. I wanted to like it after reading the reviews, but it just isn’t for me.

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Never heard a story like this one, but hoped to

I’ve been waiting for this story for so long, even though I had no idea what Susanna Clarke would craft next. But here she is, offering yet another world that is complex and eerie but beautiful and worthy of spending time in. Piranesi and his labyrinth will break your heart then put it back together again. ‘The beauty of the House is immeasurable; it’s kindness infinite.’

4 people found this helpful

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Random Scenes Strung Together

Do not both reading this book. The author has strung together random scenes and not bothered to create a story. It's a complete mess.

3 people found this helpful

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Magnificent

A magical book, almost a fairy tale, with amazing writing enhanced by perfect narration. Relatively short but massive in its weight. I really loved this story.

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Hauntingly Beautiful

I love this book. it was deep and beautiful and sad. I finished it in one day and this story will stay with me forever.

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Extraordinary!

Loved every word of this book. Just a wonderfully creative, well-written, fully dimensional story. Perfectly narrated. Kind of creates its own genre in a way.

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Simply amazing. In the original sense of the word.

This was a perfection in writing augmented only further (if that was possible) by the delivery.

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Excellent narration of an excellent story.

Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a wondrous voice to Susanna Clarke's beautiful prose. The story is fantastical and moving, gentle and mysterious, and Mr. Ejiofor's pacing and character development add even more layers of complexity and wonder. I will happily listen to this again and again.

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Another Susanna Clarke Masterpiece

Well worth the wait. This is a beautiful book with a world to get lost in. Susanna Clarke is a master at world-building, engaging characters, and storytelling. Chiwetel Ejiofor does a wonderful job narrating. Can't wait to listen to it again and read it too!

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Gripping and poignant

Amazing! Wraps a modern mystery up in a magical tale, creating an entirely believable world, with characters so expertly drawn you feel you know them. The eponymous character is such a lovely person you at the same time want that person in your life and want to protect them. The narration fits the story and character so incredibly well. At times his voice makes you feel like you’re wrapped in a warm fluffy blanket. Sheer brilliance

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  • Miko
  • 09-19-20

Beautiful and Brilliant

Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi is compelling, clever, and couldn’t be a more fitting return for the the author who sixteen years ago brought us the brilliant Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. A modern allegoric tale that works beautifully on all its levels; I’ve never regretted my spoiler-free approach to reviews more, as I really want to discuss the allegory at the heart of this intriguing story. Simultaneously simple and complex, every piece seems to have its place both on the surface and below, the labyrinth setting layered and reflected in characters and themes. As I say, it seems the perfect return for Clarke and it made me wonder, on top of the dominant metaphor, how much her own experience was was imbued into the foundation. She’d been so wildly successful with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, then became ill, leading to the long gap between novels. As someone who’s followed a similar (if more humble) path, I can’t help but feel this novel may be closer to the author’s heart and mind than perhaps any of us can know. But, this theory is another indicator of the brilliance of the book—it’s one of the stories that will probably mean something different to everyone, allowing readers to find in it pieces of themselves, their own rooms to explore within their own labyrinthine interior worlds. It’s the first book I’ve heard narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor and I hope it won’t be the last—his voice is so easy to listen to and his intonation is lovely and subtle. Not all actors are fantastic narrators, but he definitely is. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mum of wrestling fan
  • 09-17-20

Breathtakingly beautiful

A wonderfully written story perfectly narrated. I could have listened forever. What an excellent follow-up to Strange and Norrell.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Liz
  • 09-16-20

Bewitching

Strange, beautiful and filled with the magical. We spend our time with the delightful creature Piranesi who lives an odd life in an even odder place. Gradually we learn his story and although it's signalled well in advance it is no less beautiful for that. After a 17 year wait for a second book from Susanna Clarke it would be easy for it to be a disappointment. This most definitely is worth the wait. I found myself smiling often as I read, there is so much to enjoy here from the sublime writing to the gentle character of Piranesi himself and the odd and glittering world he inhabits. I recently re-read Mister Norrel and Jonathan Strange and loved it again, though it is punishingly long and could definitely have been shorter and just as good. This is book is a short and delightful thing. Strongly recommend.

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  • Colin Consterdine
  • 10-12-20

Dark but compelling

An exploration of altered states and Outsider concepts. Well crafted but may have complex impact on those with some mental illnesses.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Pete D
  • 09-24-20

Over long short story

What a disappointment. The start is really dragged out and so is the end. The early spoilers give away enough of the plot that intrigue doesn't last. The key scenes are great but then back to slow predictability for the wind up. Not what I had hoped for...

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  • Jennifer McGlade
  • 09-18-20

Not for me

I wanted to love this book, but I found it tedious. The narration was spot on, but the storyline was lacking for me.

2 people found this helpful

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  • indigoblue
  • 10-22-20

Slow grind, for me

Notwithstanding the sophistication attested to many listeners, I have to be honest and admit that I reached halfway without experiencing any spark of interest or emotional connection with the text. The story and I just did not gel, though it evidently turned on the lights for other listers/readers.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Csuti
  • 10-12-20

I nearly gave up at the start

Struggled with the monotony and tinnelessnness at the beginning but slowly the book reveals itself and by the end, it is beautiful.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Busy bee
  • 09-25-20

Beautifully written but story transparent

I was so looking forward to this as her first book is one of my all time favourites. This was never going to be that but I was open minded, however, it was a tedious start and the plot is easily guessed from the first few chapters. The quality of the writing saves it and the imagination of Clarke is extra special and the narration is one of the best I’ve heard.

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  • Joseph Alford
  • 12-02-20

Magnificent

This story is an absolute joy. A worthy successor to Clarke's previous novels. More absurd, and perhaps a little sadder, but the hero and his resourcefulness are charming company. Perhaps also more universal, and could still appeal to listeners who are generally put off by tales of magic and other worlds. Ultimately, it's not about those things, it's about identity, and how it is shaped by the environment and knowledge. As for the performance, I would listen to Ejiefor read the phone book.

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  • AC
  • 11-22-20

“The Beauty of the House is Immeasurable”: “Piranesi” is exquisite.

“The beauty of the House is immeasurable”. A man explores and catalogues findings in a labyrinthine house, so vast it has its own tides. What is this place? Who is he? Why is he there? Transcending genres, “Piranesi” unfolds like an exquisite and intricate puzzle. Quite simply, this is one of the most unusual and brilliant books I have read. Susannah Clarke’s writing is elegant and restrained. The audiobook, narrated by Oscar-nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor, is flawless. “Piranesi” is a perfect book for the Pandemic and destined to be a classic.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-11-20

Exquisite

From the moment I started listening to this book, I didn't want to stop listening, causing me to lose sleep! The performance perfectly fits the words, and Piranesi's world is so entrancing and evocatively described. I will listen to this again!

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  • Ben
  • 10-27-20

A stunning, otherworldly book

A beautifully written and performed work. highly recommended for its delicate writing and fascinating protagonist.

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  • Sonya Holmes
  • 10-01-20

Beautiful, baffling and poignant

A lesser writer would have fallen into the syrupy traps this story presented. A lesser performer would have condescended to the material and listener. Recommended!

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  • Louise Angrilli
  • 09-26-20

A beautiful journey

This book is a beautiful journey. The text is delicate and subdued - with moments of sharpness. It is an elusive exploration on the meaning of self. I find myself still wondering at underlying meanings. It's just the kind of book I needed - it brings me a sense of quiet reflection at a time when the world seems to be an oppressive and frightful place.