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Publisher's Summary

This is a novel in the guise of the tape-recorded recollections of a black woman who has lived 110 years, who has been both a slave and a witness to the black militancy of the 1960s. In this woman, Ernest Gaines has created a legendary figure, a woman equipped to stand beside William Faulkner's Dilsey in The Sound and the Fury. Miss Jane Pittman, like Dilsey, has "endured", has seen almost everything and foretold the rest.
©1971 Bantam Books (P)1996 by Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Gaines' novel brings to mind other great works: The Odyssey, for the way his heroine's travels manage to summarize the American history of her race; and Huckleberry Finn for the clarity of her voice, for her rare capacity to sort through the mess of years and things to find the one true story of it all." (Newsweek)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    65
  • 4 Stars
    42
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    11
  • 2 Stars
    7
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    6

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    54
  • 4 Stars
    32
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    8
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    7
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    2

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    24
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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • West Granby, CT, USA
  • 11-11-08

At great listen

This was such a lovely account of a time we no longer want to think of as part of america. The story tells a sad story with a main charater that has such a positive attitude we could all learn from.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Why did I wait so long?

I cannot believe I waited until I was 52 to read this (ok, listen to) this book. I was captivated from the very beginning. I’m just sorry it isn’t a true story. Miss Jane Pittman is an interesting character that “lived” through incredible times. Many of the things she discusses in her “autobiography” sound as though they are steeped in truth (the “high water of 27” for example and the Frenchman that built the first levees). I would love to learn more about the area and the period. However, if Miss Jane and her posse aren’t there in the history books, it just wouldn’t be as much fun learning that history. I wouldn’t have a vested interest. I wouldn’t be as interested in learning about the general history of an area or era as I would be in following the history of a particular family of individual through time.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mary
  • Raleigh, NC
  • 03-23-16

Great Read

My students were inspired by the story. It corresponded well with our current history studies.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

great read for 2015

this book was relevant and intriguing, and listening to it now seemed so timely it was scary. the Confederate battle flag that is the talk of the year is surely an un mentioned character. .. and you want to believe the war wasn't about slavery? Listen to this amazing women who I wish I could have met her

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Important read

Time well spent, I enjoyed the intricate details even from the earliest stages of life recalled by this 100+ Woman!!!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Story

What did you love best about The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman?

I really enjoyed this book. The story was compelling and the narration was very good. However, there were jumps and skips in the recording that were very discordant to the listening.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Nina
  • Arlington, VA, USA
  • 06-14-06

Needs an editor!

I wish I could have seen this play with Cicely Tyson in the 60's. I'm sure it was edited time-wise and very powerful. It's still a good story, and may be a true story, but the unabridged version sort of rambles, and is a few hours too long.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

So good it seems true

I have seen this in film form but had forgotten about it until I started to hear the story and remembered bits and pieces of it. I actually thought this was a true story because of how realistically it is told ad how the accounts just seem so on par with history. However, it is not a true story, despite it saying it is an autobiography, it is just as if the fictional character is being interviewed.

Jane Pittman starts her story out about how she grew up in slavery and was there when slaves were able to receive their freedom, though they weren't completely free even i they were. She is a little girl of about nine at this point and talks about the run0ins with the KKK before they were called as such and how she helped save a little boy that she started to treat as if he was her own son.

The whole book is so very good but really sad too. It really makes you see how awful life in the south was like for slaves and black people in the 1800s through the mid 1900s, since Miss Jane Pittman is telling this story as living over one hundred years!

I love how this was told, sincerely.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An Excellent Work !!!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would definitely recommend this book to a friend as though it is a work of fiction, I think it vividly depicts the experience of African Americans during slavery, the post civil war reconstruction years and the dawn of the civil rights movement.

What other book might you compare The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman to and why?

As I read the book, I was reminded of 12 Years a Slave. The description of some the experiences of African Americans in the South reminded me of incidents referenced in 12 Years a Slave.

What about Tonya Jordan’s performance did you like?

I think the reader did a fantastic job. Her intonation and inflections were on point.
I could clearly distinguish between characters as her transitions were seamless. She conveyed tremendous emotion at appropriate points.

If you could rename The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, what would you call it?

I would call it "The Rebirth of Jane Pittman". Why? I think that as the book progressed we saw Jane moving from being a passive observer and narrator of the issues/events (e.g. social and political ones) affecting African Americans, to an active participant in the struggle for the rights of the community of African Americans.

Any additional comments?

This was a really enjoyable novel!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Two Thumbs Down

What would have made The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman better?

I'm not sure if it was the story line or the narration but this was the worst book I have ever listened to. It was not a compelling story line and the "He said" "she said" "they said" was so so overused.

What was most disappointing about Ernest J. Gaines’s story?

The teaser promised a great biography, spanning 100+ years, about and told through the eyes of a former slave. In reality, this book was a collection of unrelated events that occurred over the lifetime of this woman. Most events were unremarkable and there was no conclusion.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful