The World Below

  • by Sue Miller
  • Narrated by Judith Ivey
  • 10 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Maine, 1919. Georgia Rice, who has cared for her father and two siblings since her mother's death, is diagnosed, at 19, with tuberculosis and sent away to a sanitarium. Freed from the burdens of caretaking, she discovers a nearly lost world of youth and possibility, and meets the doomed young man who will become her lover. Vermont, the present. On the heels of a divorce, Catherine Hubbard, Georgia's granddaughter, takes up residence in Georgia's old house. Sorting through her own affairs, Cath stumbles upon the true story of Georgia's life and marriage, and of the misunderstanding upon which she built a lasting love. With the tales of these two women - one a country doctor's wife with a haunting past, the other a twice-divorced San Francisco schoolteacher casting about at midlife for answers to her future - Millers offers us a novel of astonishing richness and emotional depth. Linked by bitter disappointments, compromise, and powerful grace, the lives of Georgia and Cath begin to seem remarkably similar, despite their distinctly different times: two young girls, generations apart, motherless at nearly the same age, thrust into early adulthood, struggling with confusing bonds of attachment and guilt; both of them in marriages that are not what they seem, forced to make choices that call into question the very nature of intimacy, faithfulness, betrayal, and love.

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What the Critics Say

"Unfailingly artful...Miller has never written better." (The New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

5 enthusiastic stars- compelling, a joy to read

The World Below was among the most spirited, insightful, and engaging books I've read/heard in a long time. I found that the somewhat tired story of a tired mom, empty-nested and nearly joyless (save the phone calls and visits with her adult children) was made fresh again by Miller's thoughtful prose, layered plot, and generational shifts of narratorial perspective.
The main character is a 50-something woman who can't shake the feeling that she is in some way abnormal, partly stemming from a disappointing childhood abruptly shortened by the demands of a mentally ill mother. What's more, she feels she has fallen short of the expectations thrust upon her by two ex-husbands, and with believable self-doubt she ponders how in the world she had become "one of those women" with two failed marriages.
It happens that she must decide the fate of her grandparents' home. It is a family duty which affords her, if nothing else, something useful to do that is refreshingly removed from her current state of affairs. When she visits the estate- packed with dusty artifacts of family history-- she slowly begins piecing together the chronology of a mysterious and taboo period in her late grandmother's life. As she struggles to make sense of terse diary entries, she is both intrigued and somehow strengthened by what she learns of her grandmother's imperfect past.
For me, it was fascinating to glimpse the grandmother's life as a patient in an early 1900's sanitorium. Also interesting was the friendship which developed between the (present day) granddaughter and an elderly neighbor-- a chivalrous gentlemen who had been a diligent "caretaker" of the quaint New England home.
Miller is masterful in the art of character development; even minor characters are infused with personality and are strikingly believable. It is a thoughtful story of self-discovery and personal growth, of familial strengths and the flaws which must always coexist.
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- Sanford Rosenberg "eggdoc"

Boring Boring Boring

This is the worst book I've heard in a long time. The charaters barely developed, nothing happened, nothing grew, the story was lame, there was nothing interesting, and to top it off, the narrator has an annoying way of ending her sentences. I only listened to the whole thing because I kept hoping something would happen.
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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-01-2001
  • Publisher: Random House AudioBooks