The Burgess Boys

  • by Elizabeth Strout
  • Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
  • 13 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan - the Burgess sibling who stayed behind - urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.
With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with listeners long after the ausiobook is over. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.


Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, March 2013 - Jim and Bob Burgess escaped their Maine hometown just as soon as they could…but now their nephew’s ‘antics’ have brought them back home where they’re forced to relive the accident that killed their father and deal with the (not-so-pretty) realities of their relationships. Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her last book, Olive Kitteridge, which I loved, so my expectations were high for this new novel. Similar to Olive, the protagonists here aren’t necessarily likeable, but the character studies are so insightful, so raw and real, you can’t help but be drawn in – especially with Cassandra Campbell at the helm. —Diana D., Audible Editor


What the Critics Say

"Deeply human... Though loneliness and loss haunt these pages, Strout also supplies gentle humor and a nourishing dose of hope.” (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Some Secrets Shouldn't be Kept

With apologies to Shakespeare, "some men are born sad and some men have sadness thrust upon them." Bob Burgess is one of the latter. Years ago, a freak car accident with toddler Bob in the front seat claimed the life of Bob's father. Modern psychology sometimes distinguishes guilt from shame this way: Guilt says, "What I did was bad " and Shame says "Who I am is bad." Bob could be the poster child for what happens when blame hardens into shame which results in a life that never really gets off the ground. Nevertheless, it is Bob who is the heart and soul of "The Burgess Boys." He lives his blighted life with humility, intelligence, and humor while struggling to keep his old personal demons from affecting his current relationships. Big brother Jim is a successful go getter who works hard, plays hard, and when he wants your opinion, he'll give it to you. Jim Burgess has achieved worldly success but is not the guy you trust to have your back. Just when you mentally roll your eyes convinced the author's description of Jim is veering into an obnoxious caricature, the origins of his larger-than-life personality begin to emerge. Jim begins to make sense, and this adds to our understanding of his siblings as well. Layers are peeled away as each character responds to unexpected events, and each other.

I found this book captivating and extremely well written. The story describes what happens to the Burgess family when an impulsive, foolish act becomes a catalyst for life changes and truth telling. The characters are fantastic - very human in the best sense of the word: life bats them about, but they find enough courage and tenacity to rise above worn grooves of resignation. Even if the players in the story aren't the most likable at times, they each are worth getting to know. Strout's plot is compelling and raises complex moral questions that have no easy answers. I'm still pondering some points a day after finishing the book. Finally, narrator Cassandra Campbell is perfection. She narrates "The Burgess Boys" with warmth, intelligence and a wicked Maine accent. Ayuh.
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- Susianna "Susianna"

Great character analysis

The reason I have enjoyed all Elizabeth's Straut's books are because she is amazing at character analysis. I wonder if she has a degree in psychology? She expertly crafts a story and while she does you slowly come to understand what makes each person who they are and why they do what they do. In this book a dysfunctional family is dissected, most of the characters are quite unlikeable but we grow to understand them. You so often wonder how certain roles are "assigned" in families during childhood and continue on throughout the lives of the siblings. The Burgess boys have these assigned roles and only through a major crisis do they finally learn some difficult truths, change their assumptions about themselves and their siblings, grow emotionally and move forward. I think the narrator was excellent, she totally kept my interest. I highly recommend this book.
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- Taryn "Addicted to Audible!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-26-2013
  • Publisher: Random House Audio