Blame

  • by Michelle Huneven
  • Narrated by Hillary Huber
  • 10 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Patsy MacLemoore, a history professor in her late 20s, has a brand-new Ph.D. from Berkeley and a wild streak. She wakes up in jail after an epic alcoholic blackout. "Okay, what'd I do?" she asks her lawyer and jailers.In fact, two Jehovah's Witnesses, a mother and daughter, are dead, run over in Patsy's driveway, and Patsy will spend the rest of her life trying to atone. She goes to prison, gets sober, and upon her release finds a new community (and a husband) in AA. She resists temptations, strives for goodness, and becomes a selfless teacher, friend, and wife.Then, decades later, another unimaginable piece of information turns up. For the reader, it is an electrifying moment; a joyous, fall-off-the-couch-with-surprise moment. For Patsy, it is more complicated. Blame must be reapportioned, her life reassessed.Blame is a spellbinding novel of guilt and love, family and shame, sobriety and the lack of it, and the moral ambiguities that ensnare us all.

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Audible Editor Reviews

Blame begins in 1980, when 29-year-old Patsy MacLemoore, a history professor with a long, buttery spill of hair, hints at an urgency for tea cups brimming with bourbon, poured neat, "the first mouthful, as big and sweet and hot as gasoline". Patsy is a blackout drunk. Nine months later, and for the third time, she lands in county jail, her hangover a "metallic gargle" souring her breath, and no memory of the previous 24 hours. Her attorney clues her in: while backing out of her driveway, Patsy, her license already revoked, has struck and killed a mother and daughter, Jehovah's Witnesses, both plowed down by her plastered disrepair. She pleads guilty, is convicted and sentenced to four years in state prison where she commits to sobriety and self-revulsion, even bleeding on her socks, "wearing and washing them in rotation" when refused a simple request for sanitary napkins.Blame by Michelle Huneven is risky, prickly, and astonishingly lovely. Patsy's redemption is anchored by being good, not staying clean, even though she never relapses. Huneven approaches addiction as a messy, elemental impulse that crushes some with liquor and pills, while collapsing others, like Cal Sharp — Patsy's three-decades-older husband, a pillar of AA — with the compulsion to save as many lost souls as can be crammed into their ranch home. Hillary Huber narrates Blame and her hypnotic storyteller's voice coaxes a rich, rhythmic word flow out of Huneven's droll language. There is empathy as well as a sneaky, subversive acidity to Huber's logic-driven Patsy; a deliberate, academic pacing. Patsy's rakish ex-boyfriend, Brice, is also humanized by Huber, who registers Brice's grief over losing his lover, Gilles, by curdling his surfer drawl with a gritty skim of impatience. Blame is a masterpiece, and when Huber, as Patsy, observes, "Guilt was like the check on a table. Somebody had to pick it up", it clicks that yes, finally, this is the meaning of recovery. —Nita Rao

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What the Critics Say

"Brilliant observations, excellent characters, spiffy dialogue and a clever plot keep readers hooked, and the final twist turns Patsy's new life on its ear. Huneven's exploration of misdeeds real and imagined is humane, insightful and beautiful." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Amazing character study!

I found this novel by Michelle Huneven, to be an amazing character study. Her (the protagonist Patsy) fall and eventual redemption following a horrible accident done in an alcoholic blackout was believable and compelling. So often a person is judged by their worst act but in Patsy's case, her friends, family, and victims family are the first to forgive. Long before she is able to forgive herself. Some of the most telling parts in this novel are scenes between Patsy and her victims husband. I found the AA program sections and scenes with her therapist both compelling and informative. The reader, Hillary Huber, was one of the best readers I have heard in along time. All in all, an amazing reading/listening experience!
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- Rex

narrative whiplash

This book has an excellent premise, but it is not even slightly evident that the protagonist "spends the rest of her life trying to atone". Perhaps the writer had some sort of internal angst in mind when she created this character and her situation, but actually from the reader's point of view, this person suffers very little for her misdeeds, and any spiritual growth experienced by "Patsy", does not come across. After her minimum sentence she goes blithely back into her previous life, where her employer(s) don't care the slightest bit about a felony in her resume, and proceeds to engage in a life of privilege, parties and serial monogamy. The AA stuff is strictly background noise, and the handily-acquired AA husband described in the publisher's summary is already discarded by the end of the book.

I was seriously looking forward to this read, but I only found too many shallow characters whose behaviors lack consequence, too much dialogue - the lazy way to tell a story - and just too many names to remember. If my attention drifted the slightest bit, I was all of a sudden in the midst of an entirely new cast!
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- Pamela Harvey

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-09-2009
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.