The Member of the Wedding

Narrated by: Susan Sarandon
Length: 6 hrs and 7 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (916 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The best way to experience this classic of the American South is by joining five-time Academy Award nominee and Best Actress winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, Thelma & Louise) as she guides the listener on a journey through the anguish of adolescence and isolation.

"Rarely has emotional turbulence been so delicately conveyed," said The New York Times of Carson McCullers' sensitive portrayal of Frankie Addams, a disconnected 12-year-old whose only friends are her family’s maid and a six-year-old cousin. Desperate to be part of something big, she takes an overlarge interest in her brother’s wedding and dreams of following the couple on their honeymoon to the Alaskan wilderness. But as Frankie crosses into adulthood, she experiences the fantasy-shattering disillusionment that must come with it. This is a story for anybody who’s ever felt like an outsider and a natural fit for Ms. Sarandon, a master at creating authentic, sympathetic characters.

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©1946 Carson McCullers (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Sarandon uses her voice well to convey all the emotions of a troubled girl who is searching for a place to belong." (Audiofile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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It's a Classic People

Would you listen to The Member of the Wedding again? Why?

Yes. Read this book in college and all of Carson McCullers' books. She writes haunting prose and creates real, raw characters who pull you into their loneliness. Susan Sarandon was a great choice (although I didn't care for her Bernice voice). I can't help but laugh at those who wrote it was slow and boring. It's a beautifully written work of art with myriad layers. It's obviously not for your typical beach reader. I enjoyed this book for the third time and it was a great way for my 13 year old to "read" a classic. Highly recommend. Would give anything to write as well as McCullers.

What did you like best about this story?

Frankie's painful maturation, John Henry's innocence, and Bernice's wisdom

Which scene was your favorite?

It's such a simple scene, but I like when when Frankie gives in and collapses on Bernice after dinner, before she goes back to town. You know she's not ready to let go and the compassion and realization is told so simply and beautifuly in that moment with few words. Breaks my heart and makes me want to hug my Mom and never let go.

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

The end of the story always makes me shed a tear for the loss of innocence.

52 people found this helpful

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One of my favorite books

What made the experience of listening to The Member of the Wedding the most enjoyable?

This has long been a favorite book of mine and since I have read it several times, it probably would not have been one I would have downloaded but I so love Susan Sarandon I could not resist. She did not disappoint and did a wonderful job speaking in the mind of young Frankie Adams. I would certainly recommend this title to anyone.

21 people found this helpful

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Imagine Susan Sarandon Reading to Me!!

What a treat to hear that wonderful voice reading this classic. She gives the main character all the spunk that McCullers created and she pulls our emotions into the story to care about what happens to the girl. (Okay, it takes a few minutes to forget the sultry actress, but she soon does make you hear the girl.)

The richness of this book commonly referred to as a "coming of age novel" is that it is about so much more than sex. In fact, it is about the experience of loss, loss of dreams, of naive acceptance and of people, which, I believe, matures us far more radically than lust or even love. Central to the plot is the girl's belief that she will be leaving her small community with her brother and his wife right after the wedding. This fantasy colors all her experiences and touches the listener's heart.

14 people found this helpful

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Growing Up

Would you consider the audio edition of The Member of the Wedding to be better than the print version?

I enjoyed it. I think the audio version is the better choice.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There aren't very many characters in this story. Frankie is the main character and the most interesting, most fleshed-out.

What does Susan Sarandon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I really like her voice and her southern drawl.

If you could take any character from The Member of the Wedding out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Frankie's father.

Any additional comments?

No.

14 people found this helpful

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Sweet story about a girl in love with a wedding

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

Just hearing Susan Sarandon's wonderful narration is worth it, but the story is lovely and interesting, with great characters. It's one of those audiobooks that you want to listen to on a warm sunny day, lying on a blanket, or staring out of the window. Almost like a girl's version of Huckleberry Finn - in an odd way!

What other book might you compare The Member of the Wedding to and why?

It reminds me of The Harp in the South by Australian author Ruth Park, which portrays a poor Catholic family during the Depression. The main character is a girl also growing up too quickly.

Have you listened to any of Susan Sarandon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No I haven't but I'd listen to anything she does

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Laughed a lot and was worried about the incident with the soldier!

Any additional comments?

I loved Berenice and John Henry more than Frankie! Great characters!

6 people found this helpful

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Very slow story

Susan Sarandon's narration was excellent. The story, however, was slow. The musings of a young teenage girl overwhelmed and confused by life. But very little happens. I only finished listening because I am away from WiFi sufficient enough to download a new book.

12 people found this helpful

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Actresses are not necessarily good narrators

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I purchased this book thinking that I would really enjoy it since Susan Sarandon was reading it. I was disappointed. I did not feel that she brought the characters to life, and since I recognized her voice throughout, it even took away from the experience.

21 people found this helpful

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“We all of us somehow are caught”

The twelfth summer of nearly thirteen-year-old Frankie Addams has been a "long season of trouble," and now she's caught in its never-ending August dog days. The imaginative tomboy has suddenly grown to 5’ 5" and is now too tall to stand under the bower she and some other kids have used as a stage for their dramas (of which she has written many, though never any featuring romance). Not that Frankie has any friends her own age anymore: she’s been kicked out of her girl’s club, and her best friend has moved away. She feels the world cracking and turning too fast. World War II drags on: the allies are in Paris and soldiers are passing through Frankie's hometown. Her cat Charles has disappeared. She has turned into a secret criminal, having pilfered a knife (she excels at throwing knives) and having sneaked her father's pistol out of the house and fired it. She wants to live somewhere else and wants to be someone else. Her summer has consisted mostly of hanging out with Berenice Sadie Brown, her family's ever 35-year-old African American cook with a blue glass eye, and John Henry West, her bespectacled, six-year-old cousin.

But as Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding (1946) begins, something has just happened to wrack Frankie with undefinable, strange, and disturbing new questions and feelings: Her big brother Jaris and his fiance Janice visited, shocking Frankie with their intimacy and beauty. They'll be married this coming Sunday a hundred miles away in Winter Hill, and Frankie and her father are going, and she's decided that she's not coming back home after the wedding, because she’ll go live Jaris and Janice wherever they go. “You are the we of me.” Berenice has seen all kinds of crazy love, from men who fall in love with ugly women to women who fall in love with cloven-footed devils, but "I never heard of anyone falling in love with a wedding." When Berenice warningly asks Frankie, "What if they don't want you?" she replies, "I'll kill myself. But they will."

The novel centers on the most crucial day in Frankie’s life, the day before the wedding, the last one (she passionately hopes) that she’ll spend in her southern hometown. The novel also relates Frankie’s memories of the ways in which she and Berenice and John Henry have spent the summer: playing bridge with a sticky deck, listening to the radio turned up loud, desultorily arguing with each other, listening to Berenice’s stories about her four husbands (each new one worse than the last), recalling the freaks at the county fair, and eating southern food (like Jumping Henry—peas and rice—ham knuckles, sweet potatoes, cornbread, and buttermilk). The novel also depicts Frankie’s wanderings around her home town, passing by the miserable prison, entering the shabby Blue Moon bar/hotel, shopping for an orange satin dress to wear to the wedding (tomorrow!), following the Monkey Man and his monkey (both of whom wear the expression of someone afraid of having done something wrong), getting her fortune told, and encountering a drunk soldier who thinks Frankie is older than she is. The novel does all that in three parts, each one featuring a different girl: Part One features Frankie (her nickname), Part Two F. Jasmine (her name to join Jaris and Janice), and Part Three Frances (her birth name).

The interactions between Frankie and Berenice and John Henry are funny, charming, and touching, the three people of different ages, races, and genders treating each other with honesty (as when Berenice tells Frankie about her wedding dress, “I’m not accustomed to human Christmas trees in August") and circumspection (as when Berenice stops short of telling the kids about something appalling her fourth husband did to her). Sometimes they hurt each other; sometimes they hold each other. Younger and more innocent than Frankie, John Henry steals the show, often plaintively asking, “Why?”

McCullers writes great descriptions, like "The sun drunk blue jays screamed and murdered among themselves," and “The sound was enough to shiver the gizzards of musicians and make listeners feel queer,” not to mention "The cars drove slowly in a browsing way."

She writes potent lines about life, like “We all of us somehow are caught. We born this way or that way and we don’t know why. But we caught anyhow. I born Berenice. You born Frankie. John Henry born John Henry. And maybe we wants to widen and bust free. But no matter what we do we still caught. Me is me and you is you and he is he. We each one of us somehow caught all by ourself. Is that what you was trying to say?”

Susan Sarandon reads the audiobook luminously, with a clear, compassionate voice and a complete understanding of everything going on above and below the surface, always managing to keep herself in the background while enhancing the text, never over acting, unlike the many professional actors who “perform” audiobooks, drawing attention to their virtuosity and distracting attention from the book itself. It's a pleasure to listen to her read the novel. She does a great Berenice ("dark gold voice" rough and low, earthy and wise, honest and kind), John Henry (high and sweet voice questioning and cute), Frankie (sensitive, self-centered, and imaginative voice between Berenice and John Henry in tone and pitch).

The Member of the Wedding is a southern novel (with the food, climate, pace, race, etc.), but also a universal one (with the painful and clumsy and frank development of an exceedingly sensitive and imaginative girl into an adolescent). People who like that kind of thing, along with lots of humor and lots of pain, all beautifully written, should like it.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Love Susan! Story, not so much.

What did you like best about The Member of the Wedding? What did you like least?

Would listen to anything Susan Sarandon read. The story was slow and without Susan S's performance I wouldn't have finished the book.

Could you see The Member of the Wedding being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Absolutely not!

5 people found this helpful

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Boredom

What disappointed you about The Member of the Wedding?

I found this book to have no real story line. Not one person held my interest. The story kept jumping from one topic to another as if the author couldn't figure out who to focus on. The story touched briefly on the persecution of the Jews, to the lack of civil rights in America and switched back again to the plight of the lead character's insecurity. She was practically invisible to her father.

What was most disappointing about Carson McCullers’s story?

The name change took a bit of getting used to. Apparently, the young girl only relied on the tales told to her by the housekeeper. (Who had a false eye that was blue?) the housekeeper told more about her life than the primary character. This young girl, left on her own for most of the day, walked around barefoot, digging splinters out of her foot with a knife. She also walked around town, talking to strangers encountering a drunken soldier who assumed she was a prostitute and took her to his cheap hotel room. Obviously bored and wanting to escape her hum drum life, she planned to join her brother and his bride; to live with them in another town after the wedding. There was little or no dialogue from the brother or his bride. The main character also decided that if her plan did not work, she was going to commit suicide. She told this to the housekeeper, who was not alarmed and made no real attempt to stop her. Instead, she went to the wedding and made a fool of herself. Not one person noticved that this was clearly a disturbed young girl who walked about in a dreamlike state.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Susan Sarandon?

Susan Sarandon is one of my favorite actresses. I was surprised that she leant her name and talent to this nonsensicle story. No one else could have narrated it better. She had no story to work with.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

The story kept going in circles.

Any additional comments?

I wish I'd read other reviews before I wasted over seven hours of my time.

10 people found this helpful