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Publisher's Summary

"A powerful story of people struggling to keep their humanity in dire circumstances." (People Magazine)

"Tearjerker... The Great Believers asks big questions about redemption, tragedy, and connection." (Entertainment Weekly)

A dazzling new novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying, and after his friend Nico's funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico's little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the '80s and the chaos of the modern world as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

©2018 Rebecca Makkai (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator Michael] Crouch is expressive and empathetic, breathing life into the many characters without ever overacting or exaggerating accents. His timing is superb, rarely rushing or slowing the pace even when the novel takes circuitous routes." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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

Best book for a long time!

Loved!!! The story is poignant and beautifully depicts a subject many may not know or not know from a personal perspective and the way the aids epidemic shaped a generation ... the characters are developed sensitively and unflinchingly: love,guilt, shame,hope . Kudos to the author in weaving the story to capture the humanness in all its flaws/demonstrating eloquently frailty and the longing to make sense of senselessness... narration makes this a top pick for sure !

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A story for all time

I was so moved by this book that I wrote the author and the narrator. This is one of those books that I will be forever thankful I read it. Truly a story for all time. I’m a blind audio book junkie and Michael Crouch’s performance was amazing.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • GC
  • 07-14-18

Healing, beautiful, hopeful

Rebecca Makkai is a brilliant writer. Her characters and their circumstances are incredibly fleshed out and nuanced. She paints in a broad spectrum of colors and shades, never in black and white, making Yale and Fiona's stories achingly real. The subject matter is heavy, but do not be deterred: this book is full of life.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

WOW

It's been a while since a novel ripped at my seams and left me bleeding by the side of the road quite like this. It's not an easy book to sit through, granted, but the characters are so realistically drawn and fully fleshed out that you cannot help but fall in love in them--which is a very, very bad thing when you are forced to say goodbye to them. It hurt. I can't remember the last time a novel left me blubbering like this at the end. Wow. Just, wow.

And Michael Crouch is a master storyteller. He inhabits each character so completely that you lose yourself in his voice. The story comes alive under his nimble touch. You forget that you are listening to one man voice a dozen or more characters. He's amazing and never disappoints. Buy this today. Like, immediately. But, be prepared for the emotional roller coaster that's coming!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Menorca
  • Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 08-06-18

Surely this will become a classic

Beautifully conceived. Deals with the full ramifications of the AIDS crisis and society in general in a warm and humane fashion. I've never read anything that as fully covers what some of us lived through from the late 70s til the first decades of the 21st century and the affect it has had on so many aspects of our lives. Makkai writes fluidly. .. almost a page-turner..a marvel considering the extraordinary amount of research which has gone into this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Definitely worth the listen!

This was a really good one, both from a storytelling perspective, bringing light to how the AIDS epidemic affected a close-knit group of friends and their family members, and of course the references to Chicago, particularly Boystown, that feel so familiar.

Chapter 34, in particular, really took my breath away, arriving teary-eyed to work that morning.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great reader

Sometimes you could hear an electronic slip that was not the fault of person reading. More the recording. Great Book!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Haunting Tale

Rebecca Makkai is a brilliant storyteller, and I didn't want her sad, haunting story of the effects of the AIDS crisis to end. Michael Crouch's expert narration deserves an award. He inhabited every character, and flawlessly went from one to the another. This beautiful novel, and Michael Crouch's performance will stay with me for a long time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful novel.

A gorgeous novel, beautifully written and performed. Stings a bit and sticks with you. Highly recommend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Art and AIDS

This was relentlessly bleak. The book had a gossipy tone of being told rather than an active one of action unfurling before you. This style made me feel distanced from the characters and their travails. It started out okay but was too long and suffered in the middle from a lack of good editing.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful