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Publisher's Summary

A Top 10 Sunday Times best seller.

When we go through something impossible, someone, or something, will help us, if we let them....

It is October 1966 and William Lavery is having the night of his life at his first black-tie do. But, as the evening unfolds, news hits of a landslide at a coal mine. It has buried a school: Aberfan.

William decides he must act, so he stands and volunteers to attend. It will be his first job as an embalmer, and it will be one he never forgets.

His work that night will force him to think about the little boy he was, and the losses he has worked so hard to forget. But compassion can have surprising consequences, because - as William discovers - giving so much to others can sometimes help us heal ourselves.

©2022 Jo Browning Wroe (P)2022 Faber Audio

Critic Reviews

"It's a long time since I've read a debut novel that moved me so much." (Rachel Joyce)

"Extraordinary." (Sophie Hannah)

"A brave and tender novel." (Joanna Glen)

What listeners say about A Terrible Kindness

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  • Tracy morgan
  • 01-20-22

A terrible kindness

I am welsh and lived in south wales Not far from ABERFAN. My father was one of the first men that ran to the scene immediately after the slag slipped.onto the school. My mother didn't see him for 3days as he tried to rescue and recover the children and adults. He has NEVER spoken about what happened in those 3days. I tried to broach the subject with my father once and he quickly closed the conversation down with a description about the disaster that is not appropriate for this review. The audio book was just wonderful and a insight to what really happened behind those closed doors of the chapels. The accents were right on. Thank you for putting this book onto the audiobook collection.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-21-22

Wonderful.

Of all the people affected by the Aberfan disaster I had never stopped to consider the embalmers and how heart rendering it must have been for them too. Wonderfully written.

9 people found this helpful

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  • The Signal Box Community Centre
  • 01-15-22

A stunning book, beautifully read

I cannot praise this book highly enough. The characters connected with me from the first pages and then developed in beautifully crafted lines through the different themes and years.

The book seems personal to me. I lived in Bristol as a child when the disaster happened. The city has deep links with the valleys and many of my father’s fellow teacher came from there. The sense of shock was massive and came through to us. Similarly I am very familiar with Cambridge but cannot claim any link to embalming. These connections allowed me to recognise the places but the story resonated because it is so well crafted with the plot lines carefully moving back and forward through time and peopled by characters that are well drawn and believable.

David Dawson reads the book superbly. He manages to find the voice for each character while never over dramatising. I can’t imagine another voice for William’s physical and metaphoric journey.

Thank you both Jo and David for an incredible listen.

I can’t wait for the next book.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Edwin Hayward
  • 01-18-22

I really enjoyed this moving book. It made me cry. It made me smile. It left me with a warm glow.

The story opens with William Lavery, a young embalmer who has recently joined the family business, responding to an urgent call for volunteers to go to Aberfan to help in the immediate aftermath of the colliery disaster. Jo Browning Wroe evokes the horror of working on the bodies with deft understatement, never graphic, yet leaving no mystery as to its grim essence. Despite advice from an experienced fellow embalmer to "keep your head down and your heart hard", William cannot help but be deeply affected by all he has witnessed and done: "Aberfan has scooped out the core of him, stretched it thin, and catapulted it into the wild blue yonder."

From there, the book plunges into the past, showing us William as a boy chorister in Cambridge, and the genesis of his friendship with Martin. We see the conflicting pulls of his love of singing and the call of his family trade, and his blossoming romance with Gloria.

Everyone comes into difficult situations with unique emotional baggage, and William is no exception. As time spools forward past the tragedy of Aberfan, the latter continues to exert outsize influence over him. To discuss the plot in greater detail would be to veer too far into spoiler territory, but safe to say that the ending ties up many strands of William's life in a deeply satisfying way.

Normally, I absorb audiobooks in 90-minute installments on my daily 10K (steps!) walk. However, I ended up taking greedy bonus gulps of A Terrible Kindness, sitting on my livingroom sofa, eager to find out out what would happen to William next.

7 people found this helpful

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  • pookie2shoes
  • 03-14-22

My favourite book for a long time!

I loved the characters in this book. They are real and believable. I cared for them. The main character, William... wow, one of the loveliest people. I didn't want this book to stop!!!

5 people found this helpful

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  • barbara
  • 03-11-22

A touching yet unsentimental story.

I’m quite picky, but this fitted the bill. Every now and again I choose a book that isn’t in my usual genre of Crime and thrillers. This was a good choice with an intriguing story and believable characters. Very touching and enjoyable listen .

5 people found this helpful

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  • KF
  • 03-05-22

A story within a story.

I absolutely loved this from start to finish. beautifully written and fabulously narrated! Highly recommend this audible book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Granny J
  • 02-27-22

Beautifully written

A story based on the recent tragedy at Aberfan but written from a very unusual viewpoint. Not for the faint hearted the detailed descriptions of embalming are graphic mixed with great tenderness. Heart rending a box of tissues is needed but the characters have such warmth and kindness. The beautiful descriptions show us the resilience of the human spirit and concludes on a positive joyful note. The narrator is perfect.

3 people found this helpful

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  • LizLoz
  • 02-22-22

Wonderful!

This story is nourishment for the soul. Beautifully read, with great characterisation for each voice. Lovely

3 people found this helpful

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  • miss a c wykes
  • 02-21-22

Just lovely

Brilliant narration. Brilliant characters you feel like you can reach out and touch. Atmospheric. Suprising. Original.

3 people found this helpful