Your audiobook is waiting…

The Wych Elm

Narrated by: Paul Nugent
Length: 22 hrs and 7 mins
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)
Regular price: $28.35
$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

For me it all goes back to that night, the dark corroded hinge between before and after, the slipped-in sheet of trick glass that tints everything on one side in its own murky colours and leaves everything on the other luminous and untouchable. 

One night changes everything for Toby. A brutal attack leaves him traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his uncle's rambling home, the Ivy House, filled with cherished memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.

But not long after Toby's arrival, a discovery is made. A skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden. 

As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past and himself.

A spellbinding stand-alone from a literary writer who turns the crime genre inside out, The Wych Elm asks what we become, and what we're capable of, if we no longer know who we are.

©2018 Tana French (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    0
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • the typist
  • 03-02-19

Long, dull and poorly narrated.

This book needs editing. A lot of editing. So much detail, so little story. I’ve never been a huge fan of the author and this long winded, dull tome has only served to cement my feelings. The plot never gets going and although the character descriptions are penned perfectly, I just didn’t care about the people they described.

As for the narrator, I thought initially that he was being ironic doing a ‘girly’ voice for the lead’s girlfriend. But no, that’s just how he sees women clearly. Absolutely cringe inducing.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Roger
  • 03-12-19

I reluctantly returned this book after 8 hours

I have thoroughly enjoyed Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books and thought that Paul Nugent’s narration here was superb. However after 8 hours’ listening I became exasperated with the apparent lack of any coherent thread to this story and even more so with the characters who seem to treat every event as a major catastrophe. Being beaten up is pretty major, finding a skull in the garden rather less so, and being unable to hang washing on the line even less. But each gets the full drama queen treatment.
I was desperately hoping that a clear story line would emerge, but after 8 hours’ listening I reluctantly returned the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Karen 32
  • 03-04-19

Depressing

I am a huge fan of Tana French, I love the Murder squad series, but this book (brilliantly narrated by the way) was double the length it should be and for me it didn’t feel that I got anything from this story and was left feeling depressed and a bit... meh by the end.


2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • MS T.
  • 03-22-19

excellent

This is a pleasure, beautifully written, expertly plotted and narrated with great skill. I can't praise it highly enough.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sandie
  • 03-22-19

Brilliant

I haven’t read anything by Tana French that I haven’t enjoyed but this is outstanding. Paul Nugent’s performance is faultless.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Raine
  • 03-17-19

Bloated, with melodramatic narration

I’m on the verge of not finishing this which is a shame because I’m kind of curious about what will happen. The problem is the main character combined with the very dramatic narration. Because every little event (and MANY little events are described) is treated with a kind of breathless ‘reveal’ with over-emphasis by the narrator it becomes numbing. By the time an actual plot reveal occurs the reaction is basically ‘meh’ because it’s told with the same intensity as minor grievances.

Because of this style, Toby comes across as so insufferably self-obsessed and whiny that it’s hard to continue feeling sympathy for him. It gets to the stage where awful things are happening to other people and we are treated to several minutes of him bitching and complaining about how bad it makes him feel. I get that he is supposed to be a bit of a snowflake and unable to cope with the one negative event that has ever happened in his otherwise easygoing life .. and perhaps reading instead of listening would have made his moaning less annoying. But when combined with the OTT narration it becomes annoying to the point where you just want Toby to stfu. Which is a shame because interesting events are starting to occur and many of the other characters are intriguing. Just don’t think I’ve got enough Toby patience left to find out how they develop.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 03-17-19

Disturbing

Firstly I must say the narrator was outstanding - the best on any audible book I have listened to.
The book itself is thought provoking, eerie, disturbing and I could not stop listening. Will stay with me for a long time - in a good way. A bit overlong and dragged in places but would recommend it over all.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Erin McLean
  • 03-17-19

Exhausting

Initially I thought that the book started off as promising, however the in depth pointless revelations are so tiring, you feel like you’re trudging through each chapter to make a hint of progress in the storyline. Which in itself is emotionally draining, anxiety inducing and ultimately depressing. I’m seriously disappointed as there were so many points in the book where French could have made the story more meaningful but instead she chose to go for a relentless downward spiral

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jings
  • 03-16-19

Awful ending, no resolution

Loved the book until the last couple of chapters then I hated it 😑
Felt like a total cop out as if the author didn’t know how to close the story
The narrator is excellent and probably saved it

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rachel Redford
  • 03-13-19

FAR TOO LONG!

This psychological thriller-mystery (whatever it is) has a lot of strengths and is very powerful. But it's FAR TOO LONG! 22 hours?? Tana French is asking too much from us to stick with her over-indulgence. Radical editing was needed.

It's a pity because with pruning it would have been first class, but I was longing for it to finish. Not another twist PLEASE! Just end it, Tana!

Much of it is excellent - Toby's struggle with a brain injury following his being beaten up during an apparent break-in; and his cherished uncle Hugo's living with terminal cancer are both superbly conveyed in visceral detail. The central plot is who murdered the sex pest Dominic 10 years previously and dumped his garotted body in the hollow wych elm in Hugo's lovely garden where the extended family of cousins spent so much time. The truths (in the plural) are disclosed achingly slowly. The final truth about the break-in was an anti-climax.

What is excellent is the language: a mix of Irish colloquial now argot rich in expletives alongside some very subtle elegant writing crammed with starling detail and imagery.

The other excellence is the narration. What a fantastic performance from the Irish Paul Nugent! The range of convincing characters, the inner moods of Toby, the increasingly threatening presence of Rafferty the detective, the nuances within the hours and hours of dialogue are all presented brilliantly.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • biker girl
  • 03-02-19

Very well written and performed but...

I found this book really bleak and without any humour at all, which disappointed me as I was expecting to have the usual Tana French style, full of quirky humour. I also found the plot cumbersome and the story implausible.
To me there was not one major character that was likeable.
Although it was very well written and very well performed, I could not wait for it to finish.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • christine Fiske
  • 02-28-19

A Master Weaver

I must admit for the first few chapters I was considering the thought of returning this book. However , I am so happy that I persisted because I became so engrossed in the intricately woven story that I felt part of the whole tapestry. A masterpiece of literature .

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Michaela
  • 03-19-19

Not as great as her other work

Look, I love Tana French. This one though... the protagonist is less engaging, it feels very slow. It’s interesting in that things you normally like about her work don’t quite click here. All her other work I’ll listen to over and over. This one, no.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 03-18-19

Enjoyable performance

While the story was hit and miss, the performance was fantastic. Overall, worth a listen if you like Tana French books.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • MissMetalNeen
  • 03-07-19

Disappointing

I have been waiting on this novel for ages. I love the Dublin Murder Squad series so I had high hopes for this.
This just did not meet my expectations and fell flat for me. I disliked the characters, except Hugo. Toby bothered me, he just grated on my nerves.
The storyline just didn’t grab or hold my attention.
The book ended depressingly too. All in all I just didn’t like it and would not recommend.