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Blonde

Narrated by: Jayne Atkinson
Length: 8 hrs and 19 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4 out of 5 stars (27 ratings)

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Summary

She was an all-American girl who became a legend of unparalleled stature. She inspired the adoration of millions, and her life has beguiled generations of fans and fellow artists. The story of Norma Jeane Baker, better known by her studio name, Marilyn Monroe, has been dissected for more than three decades, but never has it been captured in a narrative as breathtaking and transforming as Blonde.

In her most ambitious work to date, Joyce Carol Oates, one of America's most distinguished writers, reimagines the inner, poetic, and spiritual life of Norma Jeane Baker, the child, the woman, the fated celebrity, and tells the story in Norma Jeane's own voice: startling, rich, and shattering.

Drawing on biographical and historical sources, Joyce Carol Oates evokes the distinct consciousness of the woman and the unsparing reflection of the myth, writing as she has never written before, ecstatic, completely absorbed, inhabited as if by the spirit of her extraordinary subject. Rich with psychological insight and disturbing irony, this mesmerizing narrative illumines Norma Jeane's lonely childhood, wrenching adolescence, and the creation of Marilyn Monroe.

With fresh insights into the heart of a celebrity culture hypnotized by its own myths, Blonde is a sweeping novel about the elusive magic of a woman, the lasting legacy of a star, and the heartbreak behind the creation of the most evocative icon of the 20th century.

©2001 Joyce Carol Oates (P)2001 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Atkinson narrates Oates's fictional biography of Marilyn Monroe in an intense, slightly husky voice that immediately grabs and holds the listener's attention." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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Brilliant performance of an astonishing narrative.

Truly gripping performance of a great work of imaginative literature. Brings alive the period and the extraordinary unsung genius of Marilyn Monroe. If an audio book can be unputdownable this was it. Bravo Jayne Atkinson!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Sensational novel

Great listen. Joyce Carol Oates never fails to please I was hooked from first page!

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Poor book

Not a book that I enjoyed. I returned it after 1.5 hours of listening. The narrative style didn't suit me.

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Liked it

Extremely well told, the husky voice of the narrator really added character and back bone to the book and opened my eyes. Wasn't sure at first about the book in the first 30 minutes but glad i stuck with it.

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COMPLETE RUBBISH

A fictionalised account of Marilyn Munroe's life - why? Why leave the reader/listener wondering how much is true and how much is made up. It is also reads like a cheap pot-boiler most of the time. I gave up half way through and regretted getting even that far.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Tia
  • 10-06-15

Why not "unabridged"

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I hate when publishers only support a summary of the book or an "abridged" version. It's offensive to people with reading disorders who will not receive the full benefit of the book.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • C. Boatenreiter
  • 07-02-13

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? NO UNABRIDGED VERSION?

What would have made Blonde better?

If I could have listened to the entire darned thing, instead of quitting 1/10 of the way through to read the REAL book. The narration was fantastic, and this is an incredible work of literature. WHY it had to be ruined...I have no idea.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved everything about it...too bad I was missing a HUGE part of the point.

Which scene was your favorite?

The one that I read afterwards when I had to RE READ THE BOOK to get the whole story. Possibly the one with Norma in the car, since THAT WAS COMPLETELY LEFT OUT AND CHANGED THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I absolutely adore this book. It's just too bad that it has been decided for us that we aren't intelligent or patient or deep enough to listen to the entire thing. JCO, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING????

Any additional comments?

I am so disappointed. I'd love a refund since I had to stop listening and buy the book anyway, once I realized all that I was missing out on.

33 of 35 people found this review helpful

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  • Jesse
  • 28-12-15

Seriously need to redo the audio!!!

The narrations jumps all over the fucking place, skips some chapters and hundreds of paragraphs!? This seriously annoying and horrible, the book is great though the audible narration is a hot fucking mess omg!!!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Celina
  • 21-04-14

This bombshell keeps making her way into my heart!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely! the author of this book and narrator really brought you close to Marilyn. It was a pleasure to listen to. I couldn't put it down.

What did you like best about this story?

The intimacy you got to share with marilyn from her fist moments to her last.

If you could rename Blonde, what would you call it?

i Wouldn't i think this title was perfectly chosen. it really is a metaphor for the story.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • cocopuff
  • 27-09-12

Couldn't stop listening

Rarely write a review, but the melding of prose and reader was so perfect. I don't care about the historical accuracy ... it was psychologically convincing and mesmerizing.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lesley
  • 18-09-12

Interesting take on Marilyn

Overall, this book was a good listen. It was for my book club and was my first time to listen instead of read a fiction book. I definitely had a different take on the story compared to the ladies who read the book. I liked it a lot more than they did, but I think it's because the audio version is abridged. The narrator's imitation of Marilyn was annoying at times, but the story was great to listen to and kept me interested.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kyle
  • 18-03-17

5 stars

The narrator's smoky, Peggy Lee voice pairs perfectly with JCO's emotional, sinister, always real take on Marilyn's life. A must read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Maya A.
  • 07-07-16

Amazing writing and narration, what a treat!

I've never read a real biography written this way before. Blew me away, so fun. Loved the narrator making the story come to life In a whole new way with her changes in tones and voices.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • TiffanyD
  • 17-03-19

Always Beware the Abridged Version

I assiduously avoid abridged versions but somehow I accidentally bought this one, which meant I had to get the text and read it to get the full story.

As a novel: I think JCO's novel is way too long and could definitely have used some cutting. But one thing that wasn't included were any of MM's female friendships after the age of 17. The author freely admits she takes liberty with the real life of MM but why cut out female relationships and give us another story about Marilyn that makes her entire existence all about the men in her life? Haven't we seen Monroe through that lens often enough? Some parts of it are very well done--MM's insecurity, her attempts to fit in with others, her struggles to live up to her public image. But I don't really "get" why JCO wrote this fiction-not-fiction novel and in some ways it feels like yet another person trying to imprint their own narrative on this human being, facts be damned and that human being's consent be damned.

As an audio book: like I said, I think the regular book was too long and could have used cutting. On the other hand, I didn't care for what they cut to make the audio book more manageable. There were pieces I listened to in the audio book where I thought "why on earth didn't they take this out?" and pieces I read where I thought "how could they possibly take this out?" The last section of the book, in which Marilyn is involved with JFK, was so abridged in the audio version that it felt like it didn't belong to the narrative at all. Which is extra weird considering the end of the book, which entertains a JFK/CIA conspiracy theory (I have quibbles with that too).

All in all, I was mildly entertained and I learned an important lesson about checking for the words "UNABRIDGED" under everything I buy.

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  • Reggie
  • 16-03-19

My Own Fault for Not Noticing

I finished this audiobook thinking, "man, that book could have been awesome, but it felt like the skeleton of an amazing book." It was only then that I saw the word, "abridged," on the file. Curse me for being stupid and curse the monster who invented abridgments and curse the punk who thought this book should abridged.

As it stands, this abridgement was fine. JCO makes a few speculative leaps about the inner workings of Norma Jean cum Marilyn, that feel spot-on. It was the first book I've read where someone really tried to understand the mechanisms of Marilyn's genius. ...and she as a genius at what she did, unquestionably. She was just so good; so talented; so funny.

When JCO comes to Marilyn's sing-song at JFK's birthday I stopped listening and watched the footage on Youtube. She's clearly a little tipsy, and perhaps out of her league in that den of Ivy League privilege, but they were only more educated than Marilyn. They were not smarter, and they might scorn her, but they absolutely bowed to her genius too. All she does is take off a coat and take a breath, and the room is hers. It's incredible.

Anyway, I don't know if I'll go back and read the unabridged version now. Marilyn had a hard life, and this is an equally hard book. It's brilliant, but not pretty.