• The Fourth Hand

  • By: John Irving
  • Narrated by: Jason Culp
  • Length: 11 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Release date: 06-25-01
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Random House AudioBooks
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars 3.6 (358 ratings)

Regular price: $31.93

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Publisher's Summary

While reporting a story from India, a New York television journalist has his left hand eaten by a lion; millions of TV viewers witness the accident. In Boston, a renowned hand surgeon awaits the opportunity to perform the nation's first hand transplant; meanwhile, in the distracting aftermath of an acrimonious divorce, the surgeon is seduced by his housekeeper. A married woman in Wisconsin wants to give the one-handed reporter her husband's left hand - that is, after her husband dies. But the husband is alive, relatively young, and healthy.
This is how John Irving's tenth novel begins; it seems, at first, to be a comedy, perhaps a satire, almost certainly a sexual farce. Yet, in the end, The Fourth Hand is as realistic and emotionally moving as any of Mr. Irving's previous novels.
The Fourth Hand is characteristic of John Irving's seamless storytelling and further explores some of the author's recurring themes - loss, grief, love as redemption. But this novel also breaks new ground; it offers a penetrating look at the power of second chances and the will to change.
©2001 by Garp Enterprises (P)2001 Random House, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

“A rich and deeply moving tale . . . Vintage Irving: a story of two very disparate people, and the strange and unexpected ways we grow . . . Irving’s novels are perceptive and precise reflections of the world around us.” ( The Washington Post Book World)
“A riveting entertainment and certainly one of the funniest novels of the year. The authoritative control of Irving’s storytelling has never been more impressive. . . . The delighted reader is powerless to look away.” ( Chicago Sun-Times)
"Written with a new crispness, this fast-paced novel will do more than please Irving's numerous fans; it will garner him new ones." ( Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Suzn F on 08-31-08


It seems that one either loves this book or hates it. For those who say they hated it and that "nothing ever happens", I suggest a lack of a sense of humor.
I just adored this story, the characters were quirky funny and I looked forward to each new chapter. So if you don't need to have your read be an exciting page turner at each moment, and if you possess a sense of humor, you'll just love this listen.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By angel on 11-12-04

Strange but Fascinating

This is the first Irving book I've "read," and I enjoyed it a lot. The narrator, Jason Culp, is what sold me on listening in the first place, because I had greatly enjoyed his excellent narration of "Last Man Standing." I found "Fourth Hand" fascinating because, in a manner similar to "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues," it swirls in a vortex of sexuality without being dominated by it. I've actually known a man like the main character, so as improbable as he seems, he does exist out there. As a character, he may not have been as compelling without the gruesome mayhem aspect, but strangely, that aspect lends him credibility. I admit I fell into the trap of expecting a more profound outcome, thus almost gave it four stars instead of five. But then I realized it's character driven, rather than plot driven. As such, the characters find themselves in multiple laugh-out-loud situations. Bottom line: It's a fascinating ADULT listen, and it may very well be that my slight disappointment at the end had more to do with the fact that the story was over than the fact that it didnt end differently.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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