The Orphanmaster

  • by Jean Zimmerman
  • Narrated by George Guidall
  • 15 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From a debut novelist, a gripping historical thriller and rousing love story set in 17th-century Manhattan.
It’s 1663 in the tiny, hardscrabble Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now present-day southern Manhattan. Orphan children are going missing, and among those looking into the mysterious state of affairs are a quick-witted 22-year-old trader, Blandine von Couvering, herself an orphan, and a dashing British spy named Edward Drummond.
Suspects abound, including the governor’s wealthy nephew, a green-eyed aristocrat with decadent tastes; an Algonquin trapper who may be possessed by a demon that turns people into cannibals; and the colony’s own corrupt and conflicted orphanmaster. Both the search for the killer and Edward and Blandine’s newfound romance are endangered, however, when Blandine is accused of being a witch and Edward is sentenced to hang for espionage. Meanwhile, war looms as the English king plans to wrest control of the colony.
Jean Zimmerman brings New Amsterdam and its surrounding wilderness alive for modern-day readers with exacting period detail. Lively, fast paced, and full of colorful characters, The Orphanmaster is a dramatic page-turner that will appeal to fans of Hilary Mantel and Geraldine Brooks.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Bizarre at times

In the young New Netherlands colony, orphans are disappearing. The evidence recovered suggests some may have even been partially eaten. The leading theory is a Native American beast who consumes children. Terrifying an entire community, but irrevocably changing the town’s Orphanmaster, a she-merchant and an English spy hunting fugitives.

For such a dark story, I was surprised at how well it was researched. In fact some of the chapters open with headlines. You get a good sense of the politics, social protocol and economic feel of the time period. You can’t help but come away with a better understanding of the origins of Manhattan.

Some warnings:
-The story is gruesome throughout
-The story’s romance is contrived. It feels sort of forced amongst the rest of the subject matter.
- There are also many narrators telling the story. They are all pretty roughly sketched (but eerily memorable). The collective tells the story of the colony and it’s time more than any one character. The timeline isn’t fluid either. At times this ensures the reader is lost, and that the author may even be employing the confusion.

So it’s not for everyone. But if you keep to it, the novel really picks up momentum towards the end of the story and even becomes focused.

The novel’s narrator George Guidall was perfect. He reads the entire novel as if he’s voicing over a movie trailer. I will definitely be on the lookout for more performances from him.
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- Amazon Customer

Fascinating Story

Based on the other reviews of this novel, this audio book may or may not be for you. I enjoyed it. George Guidall is an excellent actor (I believe the term "narrator" is too limiting for a person who acts the many characters of a given book. Try Charles Dickens for example). This story of early Manhattan, the struggle between the Dutch and English, the love between two unlikely people, an English spy and a strong female trader, the clash of cultures among native Americans, the Dutch colonists, the local authorities and restrictive religion and most of all the degrading and deplorable life and death of young orphans make for a rich story.
Yes, there are some gruesome scenes but that's hardly different from your regular TV programming.
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- Dave

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-19-2012
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio