White Elephant

A Novel
Narrated by: Allyson Ryan
Length: 9 hrs and 53 mins
3.6 out of 5 stars (40 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A turf war between neighbors leads to a small-town crisis in this hilarious, addictive, and sharply observant debut novel.

The White Elephant looms large over the quaint suburban town of Willard Park: a gaudy, newly constructed behemoth of a home, it soars over the neighborhood, dwarfing the houses that surround it. When owner Nick Cox cuts down Allison and Ted Millers’ precious red maple - in an effort to make his unsightly property more appealing to buyers - their once serene town becomes a battleground.

While tensions between Ted and Nick escalate, other dysfunctions abound: Allison finds herself compulsively drawn to the man who is threatening to upend her quietly organized life. A lawyer with a pot habit and a serious midlife crisis skirts his responsibilities. And in a quest for popularity, a teenage girl gets caught up in a not-so-harmless prank. Newcomers and longtime residents alike begin to clash in conflicting pursuits of the American dream, with trees mysteriously uprooted, fires set, fingers pointed, and lines drawn.

White Elephant is an uproarious, tangled-web tale of neighbor hating neighbor (and neighbor falling head over heels for neighbor). Soon, peaceful Willard Park becomes a tinderbox with nowhere to go but up in flames.

©2019 Julia Langsdorf (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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What listeners say about White Elephant

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Pretty Mundane

I found this on a list of the best books of 2019. Short listen but probably not worth the time. Mundane would describe it best.

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Could have been

The general plot sounded fun and intriguing, but it never developed. I was disappointed in the character development and the lack of fully developed plot. She didn’t love any of her characters enough to make them 3D. I found it sadly one note.

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Boring and Predictable

While I liked the narration, I found the story to utterly lack organization and the character development was terrible. There are really no likable characters in the novel, and it lacks any sort of depth and flow. It was hard to follow and quite boring.

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Ho hum

Okay story, somewhat interesting characters. But neither very believable nor profound. At best, a decent beach read.

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Like "Game of Thrones" set in a sleepy suburb!

"This is war!" White Elephant deftly creates a living picture of the tension, intrigue, competition, envy and lust hidden in the sedate tree-lined streets of a sleepy D.C. suburb. All of the competing families and characters are so well described that you will swear you know one or two of them, and might even have one living next door to you. When one neighbor builds the proverbial "white elephant" of a house it sets off ripple effects that rebound throughout the entire neighborhood. This is a very insightful, wry chronicle of life in suburbia that reflects universal human themes. The narrator does a great job of bringing the warring "clans" to life, picking up on the repressed energy and emotion that is carefully buried in the seemingly polite interactions of "life in the burbs." I wanted more...this book ended too soon! I am sure it will be a book club favorite. I can't wait for the author's next story!

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Insightful and suprisngly pleasing.

I found the book slow to start as the web of several families in a small community come into focus. Once the groundwork was laid the intertwining stories and voices were compelling, full and quirky. This book was good company as I finished a project at home and I am better for it.

1 person found this helpful