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The Book of Speculation Audiobook

The Book of Speculation: A Novel

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Publisher's Summary

"Dear Mr. Watson, I came across this book at auction as part of a larger lot I purchased on speculation. The damage renders it useless to me, but a name inside it - Verona Bonn - led me to believe it might be of interest to you or your family...."

Simon Watson, a young librarian on the verge of losing his job, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home - a house, perched on the edge of a bluff, that is slowly crumbling toward the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, works for a traveling carnival reading tarot cards and seldom calls.

In late June Simon receives a mysterious package from an antiquarian bookseller. The book tells the story of Amos and Evangeline, doomed lovers who worked in a traveling circus more than 200 years ago. The paper crackles with age as Simon turns the yellowed pages filled with notes, sketches, and whimsical flourishes. His best friend and fellow librarian, Alice, looks on in increasing alarm.

Why does his grandmother's name, Verona Bonn, appear in this book? Why do so many women in his family drown on July 24? Is there a curse on his family - and could Enola, who has suddenly turned up at home for the first time in six years, risk the same fate in just a few weeks? In order to save her - and perhaps himself - Simon must try urgently to decode his family history while moving on from the past.

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler's gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books and family and magic.

©2015 Macmillan Audio (P)2015 Macmillan Audio

What the Critics Say

"Narrator Ari Fliakos has complete control over this tale of magical realism as he underplays the drama and makes the outlandish seem plausible.... Fliakos's performance enhances a terrific book. Listeners will enjoy letting him guide them through the surreal elements of Swyler's story." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Gypsycat Madison, WI, United States 07-20-15
    Gypsycat Madison, WI, United States 07-20-15 Member Since 2017

    audiobook addict

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "traveling carnival, tarot, love, fate, secrets"

    A thoroughly enjoyable book that I savored and kept making excuses NOT to listen to as I got closer and closer to the end. The story starts off as contemporary fiction, and slowly a sort of magic creeps in around the edges until the book becomes what I'd call magical realism. It's akin to Alice Hoffman's stories or Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle in that way. The themes were practically custom-selected for me: librarians, a traveling carnival, tarot card readers, a family with tragic history that is slowly revealed, an ancient manuscript that is the key to it all. The plot of the book is low but twisty, and I loved guessing the connections as they were hinted at and exposed. The setting of the book is very atmospheric too - a New England seaside small town, where the houses are literally being pulled back into the sound by time and weather. The characters are small town personalities, where everyone knows everyone but some secrets lurk unspoken beneath the surface. The emotional feel of the book is lovely and delicate, melancholy and dark. Love is all powerful, but not always as a redemptive force.

    The audiobook was beautifully narrated by Ari Fliakos. I highly recommend this book to fans of Maggie Stiefvater, Erin Morgenstern, Alice Hoffman, and Neil Gaiman's writing styles.

    29 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annie M. 08-11-15
    Annie M. 08-11-15 Member Since 2009

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Definitely worth a credit"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I really enjoyed this book. When I first began it, I thought, "Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?" Turns out, I'd fallen asleep (it was nighttime, in fairness to the very lyrical and creative author of this tome). I'm very glad I went back and started over.


    What other book might you compare The Book of Speculation to and why?

    There is a firm degree of magical realism here, which brought to mind Alice Hoffman and also Audrey Neffigneger. And the excellent writing made me think of Julia Glass, Richard Russo, and Kate Atkinson.


    What about Ari Fliakos’s performance did you like?

    I really loved every single aspect of Ari Fliakos's work here. In fact, he is part of the reason I decided to start over. He has brilliant nuances that are particular to each character. Honestly, it's one of the best narrations I've ever heard (and I read/listen to about four books a week).


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I found the relationship between the main character and his sister to be very touching. There were a lot of scenes between them that I re-listened to, just because they did move me so. I also loved Enola's adorable, tattooed-man boyfriend. And...yep, there's another...I really, really loved the love story between the main character and his object of adoration, Alice.


    25 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    professor mom 07-13-15 Member Since 2015

    The Homeschool Librarian

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    "Loved this book!"

    I have already recommended this book to all my friends. Fantastic story and beautiful writing. Most books I've read with a metaphysical theme have a female narrator - it was nice to have a male voice in this one. I would recommend The Book of Speculation to anyone who enjoyed The Night Circus, A Discovery of Witches, or Shadow of the Wind.

    23 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barb gfeller 07-30-15 Member Since 2008
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    "I lost myself in this book"

    Multi generational saga with bits office and folklore woven into the story line.

    This book has become one of my favorites and would list it as a must read. If you liked, "Water For Elephants ", and "Night Circus", you will love "The Book of Speculation".

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Anne Philadelphia, PA, United States 11-12-15
    Beth Anne Philadelphia, PA, United States 11-12-15 Member Since 2012

    i like to read. i like to listen.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "didn't want this story to end"

    circus acts, magical realism, a mysterious book within the book, a strange family history...come on. this book was written for me. i loved every word, every page, every bit of it.

    i could have read this book forever.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L.W. 09-01-15
    L.W. 09-01-15

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Story that never leaves you"
    Where does The Book of Speculation rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I am not good at ranking. It is a part of me the way some books become. You never forget them. It is haunting, remarkable. I am not sure I even liked it but it is so memorable.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way it unfolded. The way the magic the something has a life of it's own. It isn't evil it just is.


    What about Ari Fliakos’s performance did you like?

    Extremely good. Wonderful character portrayal. I was able to separate them. It was great.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    You think of a better question.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is fascinating. Any book that grabs you in this way is well written, well thought out and well executed. You may not love it but you won't forget it. Those are the best books.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan 01-21-16
    Jan 01-21-16
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    "Mystery, Magic, and An Old House By The Sea"


    I was mesmerized by this novel. It floated along with wonderful visuals and beautiful prose, but was as captivating as a thriller.

    The story follows a librarian from a small coastal town as he fights to save his family's home while wrapping himself in the mystery of his eccentric family's past...and the ride is nothing short of magical.

    This book falls under Magical Realism, and you would shelf "The Book of Speculation" somewhere near the novels of Margaret Atwood in your mental library.

    Highly recommended. It was a great read to start off 2016.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 07-23-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Five Stars All the Way"

    Ari Fliakos has a wonderful voice and does a great job narrating this story. The story is well written with interesting characters and an original premise. I loved this book from the very first page to the very end.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. L. Walker Montgomery, Al, USA 07-05-15
    T. L. Walker Montgomery, Al, USA 07-05-15 Member Since 2017

    Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane. Reviewer at BiblioSanctum.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A wonderful blend of magical realism and fantasy"

    This book plays around with the Slavic myth of the Rusalka, a type of water nymph. At one point, the Rusalka was a symbol of fertility, but in later years, they became malevolent in stories. They’re believed to be the result of a woman committing suicide by drowning or being violently murdered by drowning. Since their life was fated to be a full one, they continue their lives as Rusalka, luring men to their deaths. However, this is not their sole way of being created. I did a Google search to get all this information since I love learning about new mythology, but the book does a fair job of painting a portrait of the tragic story of the Rusalka. I would call this fantasy, but it is very light fantasy with the magic realism being much more pronounced throughout the story. Much like Mandel’s Station Eleven, this is one of those books that defies it genre by being moving and poetically written. There’s so much going on with family secrets, betrayals, old pains, and how one’s past can come together to be an almost self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a painful read with so many wins being punctuated by devastating defeats that shapes the history of not only the Watson family but the families that are interconnected with the Watsons.

    I probably would’ve rated this book much higher, but I did find it a little hard to connect with the characters, and while this book worked largely on the idea of a thread weaving together many lives, it still felt too coincidental rather than feeling like it smoothly pieced together the many puzzles making up a history that was larger than any of the characters could imagine. I cared more about the story being told about their ancestors than the modern day tale that was unfolding. However, Ari Fliakos was simply amazing. At first, I didn’t know if I was going to like the tone he used for Enola, but as I continued to listen and learned more about the character, that clipped, sarcastic tone he used for her fit the eccentricity of her character well. In fact, he did a wonderful job of making all the characters feel so distinct from Churchwarry’s jolliness to Peabody’s larger than life magnetism to Evangeline’s pensive wistfulness to Frank’s simple straightforwardness. I even loved his southern accents which sounded mostly right and used that softened twang just the way it’s supposed to be. Where I might’ve just rated this 3 stars, Fliakos’ narration was beautiful and swayed some of my opinion on its rating.

    The Book of Speculation is a haunting, poetic story that shows how wants, heartache, and wishes can breathe intent into actions that were done simply out of love, how generations can fall into those same cycles until someone tries to break the “curse.” This book has just the right amount amount of myth, magic, and realism that can cause its readers to ponder the ideas presented, and if I’d had the chance to care a little more about the characters that Swyler introduced me to, this book would’ve definitely been a home-run for me.

    20 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caroline D. Hayes Columbia, SC USA 07-01-15
    Caroline D. Hayes Columbia, SC USA 07-01-15 Member Since 2013

    School Teacher

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating..."

    I found this first book by this author to be fascinating. It is a book about books that captured my attention from beginning to end. It kept me going on, and on for hours. It just kept you trying to figure out what was going on. This is the kind of piece that keeps you SPECULATING, in the most literal sense of the word. It does justice to its title! It is a complete success. Plus, up until the end it keeps you on pins and needles. It left me with a desire to read more from Swyler. If she continues in this style, I see great works from her in the future. Cheers! I highly recommend. This has been the best read of the summer, so far, for me.

    18 of 21 people found this review helpful

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