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The Years  By  cover art

The Years

By: Virginia Woolf
Narrated by: Finty Williams
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Publisher's Summary

Written in 1937, The Years was the most popular of Virginia Woolf's novels during her lifetime. It explores a rich variety of themes such as sex, feminism, family life, education, and politics in English society from 1800 to the 1930s, as they affect one large upper-class London family.

The principal theme of this ambitious book is time, threading together three generations of the Pargiter family. The story begins on a day in 1880 in the household of Colonel Abel Pargiter, his dying wife, and their seven children, and it ends in the 1930s with a brilliantly depicted party at which the Pargiters, young and old, pass in review.

Important events - births, deaths, marriages, wars - occur in the wings; it is the commonplace moments that are captured here in a sequence of perfectly drawn scenes. As the Pargiters move from the oppressive confines of the Victorian home of the 1880s to the 1930s, they are weighed down by the pressures of war, capitalism, empire, and the rise of Fascism.

Finalist for the 2007 Audie Award for Classics.

©2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc. (P)1965 Leonard Woolf

What listeners say about The Years

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Just Beautiful

I was so sorry when this book ended. I could have gone on listening for hours. Virginia Woolf...her story, her characters, her genius, lives on! I can’t say enough words to describe Finty Williams’ excellent narration...just beautiful. Finished listening to The Years on a beautiful day as I was gardening and the perfection of the moment will stay with me.

17 people found this helpful

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Entertaining from beginning to end

Beautifully written,scenes so detailed I could smell the flowers and see the fine stitching in their wardrobe. Most of all I enjoyed the conversations, the banter, self reflection, clarity and confusion of these wonderful people. The narrator is top of the tree.

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Loved it!

Why has it taken me so long to read Virginia Wolff's work? This is my third of her books to read, one after the other. There are several uses of politically incorrect words in this volume. We must remember the period in which this book was written.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautiful but flawed

The reader is terrific and the first two thirds of the novel are magnificent but the gratuitous nastiness of the description of Jews becomes disturbing

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Took a long time to adjust to the story style

It can be discouraging in the beginning when there were so many characters with a mix of timelines. But once you get used to it, you will be brought into their world and feel you are right there.

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Les temps perdus

A wonderful evocation of the years between the 1880s and the mid-1930s. The prose is remarkable for its ability to draw pictures of the inner lives of the members of the Pargiter family and to subtly point out the enormous changes in England during those decades. Superb narration.

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Not great

I really didn't enjoy this book.
I agree with other reviews that it's hard to follow as it jumps, so maybe reading it instead of listening to it might help, but aside from that I think it's just not an overly pleasing book to read. I didn't find the characters overly developed, there were holes in the story and very little closure about any of the family members. I can see how Woolf may have found herself to be very clever with this innuendo and that, but overall it's not a great story and the detail is in the wrong places. I've read Woolf before and enjoyed it, but this book is a pass. Three narrator did an excellent job for what she was asked to read, though, so two thumbs up there.

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My first Virginia Wolfe

Sure I had heard of her. I had just finished a Tom Hardy novel I really liked and was in the mood to be transported to someone else’s world again. That she does- amazing insight and description. But I did start wishing that the characters would do something. Since then I googled her and am glad I finally got around to hearing her. Will check out Mrs Dalloway but will put her in the category of not back to back ( like Cormac McCarthy I worship him but in measured doses)

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A long story about nothing

I have absolutely no idea what this was supposed to be about. I am not sure why this is some fantastic novel I’m not sure why I continue to listen.

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Love it

I could and have listened to this over and over again. When I was in school I don’t think I would have enjoyed it, but now being older, and reading it for pleasure, I get it.

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  • Fothergill
  • 08-14-18

Perhaps a different reader?

Virginia Woolf and her unique observations, does require a more ‘poetic’ voice, perhaps?
This voice too thin, lost some of the delicious timing, and humour, after all it is for listening,
Nice to have another VW though, more please, Juliet Stevenson ? Alex Jennings?

4 people found this helpful

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  • ROSALIND BUCK
  • 02-25-19

timeless insight

lovely as usual. such insight into people's thoughts. it doesn't age and gives us a window onto that time.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Emma Simms
  • 10-28-22

Tried and tried but failed

Hours and hours I have re listened to each chapter. I just can’t get to grips with this, my first Virginia Woolf. Probably my last. I have no clue what’s going on and now yearn to read an Elizabeth Gaskell. Probably too ‘modern’ and high brow for me! First book I’ve left in chapter 11.

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  • Jamie Barron
  • 09-19-22

Engaging performance of engaging novel

Woolf’s prose is hypnotic, it draws me in and engages me in everything of hers I’ve read, and this is no exception. She makes the everyday remarkable and has an amazing ability to use little details to delineate character. Here, she focuses on one extended family as they develop between the 1880s and the 1930s - their characters and relationships altering subtly over that time.
Finty Williams does a great job with her performance of this, distinguishing characters’ voices elegantly and finding just the right tones for Woolf’s writing.

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  • Abusam
  • 12-30-21

Unsuitable Narrator

Virginia Woolf is one author I found difficult to read, but marvellous to listen to.

However, this complex multi-generational story was impaired not aided by the choice of narrator.

She has a high-pitched voice and is poor at accents, so that all the characters merged into each other.

I'm sure I would have a better appreciation of this interesting story if someone with more range and gravity had been chosen.

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  • RUTH
  • 09-11-22

Poetic writing.

Wolf's writing is wonderful but this story is lacking in plot. Great performance by the narrator. The poetic description of seasons people and places is engaging. But it was a struggle to keep going to the end.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-10-22

Like dropping acid while watching paint dry

I found this book confusing. it is beautifully articulated and the imagery is sublime. It is perhaps one of the first forms of mindfulness without intending to be. Wolfe invests her creative energy into observing and documenting the world around her, the seasons, the weather and the impact of which form the opening of each chapter. While this is mesmerising to get lost in, I expect it to lead somewhere and form a connection with the characters. For me this was lacking, as was any substance in the story and the character development. They get older, that's all. I am one chapter shy of finishing and I have waited too long for a reason to continue.