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Summary

Beloved writer J. California Cooper has won a legion of loyal fans and much critical acclaim for her powerful storytelling gifts. In language both spare and direct yet wondrously lyrical, Life is Short but Wide is an irresistible story of family that proves no matter who you are or what you do, you are never too old to chase your dreams.

Like the small towns J. California Cooper has so vividly portrayed in her previous novels and story collections, Wideland, Oklahoma, is home to ordinary Americans struggling to raise families, eke out a living, and fulfill their dreams. In the early 20th century, Irene and Val fall in love in Wideland. While carving out a home for themselves, they also allow neighbors Bertha and Joseph to build a house and live on their land. The next generation brings two girls for Irene and Val, and a daughter for Bertha and Joseph. As the families cope with the hardships that come with changing times and fortunes, and people are born and pass away, the characters learn the importance of living one's life boldly and squeezing out every possible moment of joy.

Cooper brilliantly captures the cadences of the South and draws a picture of American life at once down-to-earth and heartwarming in this-as her wise narrator will tell you-"strange, sad, kind'a beautiful, life story." It is a story about love that leads to the ultimate realization that whoever you are, and whatever you do, life is short, but it is also wide.

©2009 Doubleday (P)2009 Random House

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Marlene
  • Marlene
  • 01-12-09

Never Disappointed!

J.California Cooper has never disappointed me and "Life Is Short and Wide" is no exception. This story touched me and spoke to life's twist a turns, as well as, the unexpected changes and how these changes affect the lives of those you love beyond the length of your life. Highly recommened.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for milton
  • milton
  • 19-12-11

A Whole Lotta Soul!

Would you listen to Life Is Short but Wide again? Why?

Yes. This was the second listen. I drove family members from Atlanta to Savannah (and back) and played it for them. They Loved it; they actually cheered out loud!

What other book might you compare Life Is Short but Wide to and why?

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Which character – as performed by Adenrele Ojo – was your favorite?

Tot was too much!

If you could rename Life Is Short but Wide, what would you call it?

Wouldn't change a thing

Any additional comments?

J. California Cooper is a treasure!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-05-09

Author that never disappoint

I love reading or listening to book written by J. California Cooper. The author is one of my favorites. I am never disappointed when I read a book written by this author. The author really digs deep and develope a great novel.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-11-15

Great for a long car ride...

I've been a lover of J. California Cooper's work for over 20 years. Her short stories are wonderfully entertaining. The ease with which they flow is a true testament to the author's storytelling abilities.

This novel seemed to be a long, drawn out version of her signature short-story style. For some characters, the author skipped years, even decades, without comprehensive explanation. Three-quarters of the way through, I was begging for the novel's end! I forced myself to keep listening out of respect for the author and literature in-general.

The narrator hit her stride about 30-60 minutes into the story. She was initially irritating, seemingly trying to force a "countrified" accent. But when she hit her stride, she nailed it; both her diction and tonal inflections became on point! The narration then flowed mellifluously!

Curiously, at the very end, the author introduced the ideology of Jehovah's Witnesses. It made the ending a bit disjointed.

I'd recommend listening to this novel if one is taking a long car ride.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • DJW
  • 28-02-18

A Rare Pearl

This novel contains more than just one rare pearl of wisdom. It's more like a gorgeous, three-strand necklace of infinitely beautiful, yet practical tenets for living a good life. The narrator is a wisened, saucy, irreverent every woman. A model of how to live according to what is truly important, she puts vanity into perspective and clarifies "healthy relationship" as well as anyone can.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 20-10-17

Definitely for the Dreamers

I love the imagery in this book. Very special story telling. Although i didn't care for the religious undertones.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Natasha
  • Natasha
  • 11-04-17

Wish I could give a higher rating

started as an intriguing read

Ending seemed to have a subliminal message to convert religions

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Profile Image for Jacqueline
  • Jacqueline
  • 09-12-16

Excellent Story

This book was a well told story of pain, sorrow, and love. Kept me wondering what was going to happen next.

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Profile Image for mildred reeves wilburn
  • mildred reeves wilburn
  • 30-09-16

GREAT STORY!!!

Great story!!
Typical J California Cooper!
I laughed,cried,cringed and smiled.
Felt liked i was looking thru the windows of THIS family's life.

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Profile Image for Michelle Lee
  • Michelle Lee
  • 12-09-16

awesome read

phenomenal book. definitely will recommend to family and friends. kept me wanting more, couldn't stop listening to it,day and night. thank you