The Master

  • by Colm Toibin
  • Narrated by Geoffrey Howard
  • 12 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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What the Critics Say



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

A Gentle Story

I couldn't get any of my friends or relatives to read this with me, and they were all wrong to avoid it--it is a sensitive and gentle rendering of certain segments of James' life, easy to follow in this recorded form, and not reminiscent of those tangled James short stories you never finished in college. Toibin keeps it believable and doesn't charge in and detail torrid love affairs (of any orientation). Unlike other novels 'from a life' this didn't make me worry whether Toibin had guessed correctly at the deepest secrets of James' personal life. It's a great portrait with a nice "nuanced" narration that suits the material very well.
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- Anne

Perfect

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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- Kathy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-24-2004
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.