• The Widower's Tale

  • A Novel
  • By: Julia Glass
  • Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
  • Length: 17 hrs and 49 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (526 ratings)

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The Widower's Tale

By: Julia Glass
Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
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Publisher's Summary

In a historic farmhouse outside Boston, 70-year-old Percy Darling is settling happily into retirement: Reading novels, watching old movies, and swimming naked in his pond. His routines are disrupted, however, when he is persuaded to let a locally beloved preschool take over his barn. As Percy sees his rural refuge overrun by children, parents, and teachers, he must reexamine the solitary life he has made in the three decades since the sudden death of his wife. No longer can he remain aloof from his community, his two grown daughters, or, to his shock, the precarious joy of falling in love.

One relationship Percy treasures is the bond with his oldest grandchild, Robert, a premed student at Harvard. Robert has long assumed he will follow in the footsteps of his mother, a prominent physician, but he begins to question his ambitions when confronted by a charismatic roommate who preaches - and begins to practice - an extreme form of ecological activism, targeting Boston’s most affluent suburbs. Meanwhile, two other men become fatefully involved with Percy and Robert: Ira, a gay teacher at the preschool, and Celestino, a Guatemalan gardener who works for Percy’s neighbor, each one striving to overcome a sense of personal exile.

Choices made by all four men, as well as by the women around them, collide forcefully on one lovely spring evening, upending everyone’s lives, but none more radically than Percy’s. With equal parts affection and satire, Julia Glass spins a captivating tale about the loyalties, rivalries, and secrets of a very particular family. Yet again, she plumbs the human heart brilliantly, dramatically, and movingly.

©2010 Random House Audio; 2010 Julia Glass

Critic Reviews

“Elaborately plotted and luxuriously paced, Glass’s inquisitive, compassionate, funny, and suspenseful saga addresses significant and thorny social issues with emotional veracity, artistic nuance, and a profound perception of the grand interconnectivity of life.” ( Booklist)

What listeners say about The Widower's Tale

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Shedding old skin ...

A thoroughly enjoyable book who's main charactar is a curmudgeonly, newly-retired 70 year old widower whose comfortable but rather boring existence is first upset then enriched by newcomers in his life. His willingness, although begrudgingly, to open his property to an up-scaled nursery school that renovates and relocates into his barn also begins to open his previously sheltered life. Every door that opens seems to bring struggle and disappointment and eventually growth, love and maybe even a bit of happiness. The Widower Tale is endearing!

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great performance, great writing, wonderful story

This was not a reading - it was a performance! Mark Bramhall had incredible accents and emotions that add to an already wonderfully written book. This is a must listen!

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Taler Made

Julia Glass spins a tale of life in a small New England town that draws the listener into the life of Percy Darling, the eponymous widower, and his attempt to recover from his wife's death thirty years ago. Glass's insights into a senior citizen, his children, extended family, friends and acquaintances make each character real, i.e., flawed but sympathetic. There are neither heroes nor villains, yet, just as we hope we can, the characters muddle though life wiser for the experience.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Baffling choice by the Narrator.

I can't understand why the narrator chose to portray the main character in the voice of an extremely elderly man with a stereotypical Boston Brahmin accent. The man is actually 71 years old and specifically mentions that he grew up in a bookish household in Montclair New Jersey. This choice skews the entire narrative and makes the central character almost comically flat. He's not a character, but a caricature, one invented not by the author, but by the Narrator. Too bad.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it

Julia Glass has written another novel in which I could lose myself. I loved and cared about the characters and the story kept my attention from start to finish. Mark Bramhall's narration is brilliant! He clearly delineates each character and emotions come through without being overly done.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Very Boring

I was so disappointed with this book. I loved, The Three Junes, and hoped that this would be as good.The characters never came to life for me and few were likeable. I thought the plot was contrived. I stopped listening 1/2 way through, couldnt take anymore.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb story and narration

What a wonderful many-layered story of a diverse group of people! Truly a masterpiece.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Endurance Test

Great writing does not always equate to a good story. I thought this book would never end. Though the writing was excellent, the story went on, and on, and on, without any real purpose. I was relieved when I reached the finish line.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved this book!

Characters are well developed, the plot holds you to the end. Full of compassion and love.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic!

This is my first Julia Glass book but it won’t be my last. Glass tells this story of a family and its personal and professional connections to each other and the people and friends around them through the strong voice of the grandfather whose wit is without rival. The narration is as excellent as the writing deserves.