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Publisher's Summary

In The Master, his brilliant and profoundly moving fifth novel, Colm Toibin tells the story of Henry James, a famous novelist born into one of America's intellectual first families two decades before the Civil War. James left his country to live in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London among privileged artists and writers. In stunningly resonant prose, Toibin captures the loneliness and longing, the hope and despair of a man who never married, never resolved his sexual identity, and whose forays into intimacy inevitably failed him and those he tried to love. The emotional intensity of Toibin 's portrait of James is riveting. Time and again, James, a master of psychological subtlety in his fiction, proves blind to his own heart.
Toibin is a "great and humanizing writer" who describes complex relationships in "supple, beautifully modulated prose" (Washington Post Book World). In The Master, he has written his most ambitious novel, an extraordinarily inventive encounter with a character at the cusp of the modern age, elusive to his own friends and even family, yet astonishingly vivid and moving in these pages.
©2004 Colm Toibin (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks
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Critic Reviews

Audie Award Finalist, Literary Fiction, 2005
IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, 2006
"Perhaps the book’s greatest achievement—one of many—is the gentle understatement it employs to connect James’ personal uncertainties at mid-career to a broader shift in the literary current at the turn of the century. … The story’s greater energy lies in the linkage that Tóibín forges among James’s emotional and physical exile, the subjects of his novels, and certain key episodes in his past." (Boston Globe)
"The subtlety and empathy with which Toibin inhabits James's psyche and captures the fleeting emotional nuances of his world are beyond praise, and even the echoes of the master's style ring true." (Publishers Weekly)
"Even the reader who knows little about Henry James or his work can enjoy this marvelously intelligent and engaging novel, which presents not on a silver platter but in tender, opened hands a beautifully nuanced psychological portrait." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Kathy on 05-06-05


I'm not normally a biography reader and didn't know much about Henry James before reading this, so it's hard to say really why I ordered "The Master." But I am so glad I did.
My interest in James arose while listening to "Reading Lolita in Tehran." James was one of the authors the Iranian women studied. I thought, here I am, able to read anything I want, and I don?t know anything about this writer that these people risked arrest to read.

And, what a wonderful book. Toibin is himself "The Master," his manner and style of writing are superb. This is what people really mean when they say someone "has a way with words."
For much of his life, Henry James lived as an American expatriate in England and Italy. The life and times of those countries are as much of James's story as the man himself. Toibin sketches the locales and cultures so vividly that I could see the garden outside the window of the house in the English countryside where James finally settled.
For anyone whose only experience with James was "Portrait of a Lady" in tenth grade, you owe it to yourself to learn something about this American legend.
Narration by Geoffrey Howard is excellent, the perfect voice for this perfect story.

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21 of 21 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Yennta on 04-05-05


A book about Henry James in sort of the style of Henry James, the same reticence and provocative hinting, the same restrained but intense examination of every word, every thought and mood. I'm a Henry James fan and thought I'd get mad at somebody who presumed to embellish and explain the life of a real person. I usually get annoyed by such hubris. But in this case I just can't. It is so so so good. And the sources of all the stories and books are stated (or implied) so satisfyingly. I adored it, and the reader was perfect for it.

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15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Kakabeak on 02-04-06

Elegant prose: beatifully read

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004, this book has been deservedly highly acclaimed. The author delicately explores the life of author Henry James, and probes with great subtlety the essentially fragile relationships he formed over the course of his life with both men and women. But what makes this audiobook completely outstanding is its telling. The book's elegantly structured English is rendered with poignant sensitivity by narrator Geoffrey Howard. I will be on the lookout for his readings of other books of merit.

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