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Summary

A breathtaking novel from Orange Prize short-listed and Commonwealth Writers' Prize-winning author Aminatta Forna.

Waterloo Bridge, London. Two strangers collide. Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist, and Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes. From this chance encounter in the midst of the rush of a great city, numerous moments of connections span out and interweave, bringing disparate lives together.

Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma and to check up on the daughter of friends, his 'niece', Ama, who hasn't called home in a while. It soon emerges that she has been swept up in an immigration crackdown - and now her young son, Tano, is missing.

When by chance Attila bumps into Jean again, she joins him in his search for Tano, mobilising into action the network she has built up, mainly from the many West African immigrants working London's myriad streets, of volunteer fox-spotters: security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens. All unite to help, and as the search continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds.

In this delicate yet powerful novel of loves lost and new, of past griefs and of the hidden side of a multicultural metropolis, Aminatta Forna asks us to consider the values of the society we live in, our coexistence with one another and all living creatures - and the true nature of happiness.

©2018 Aminatta Forna (P)2018 Recorded Books Inc

Critic reviews

"Her prose quietly grips us by the throat and then tightens its hold. It is storytelling at its most taut...A gifted writer." (Independent)

"A fresh, immaculate stylist and an unsparing chronicler of human vices...Profound." (The Times)

What listeners say about Happiness

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Robotic meandering

Was definitely not my favourite book I have listened to. I often felt like the narrator sounded robotic and her accents felt awkward.

4 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

Will certainly read more from Aminatta Forna. What a pleasure to listen to Robin Miles! Great!

3 people found this helpful

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Wholesome, rich and reassuring.

Simple story weaving in insights into lives of people who are often overlooked. Narrator struggled with British accents.

2 people found this helpful

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terrible accents may have ruined this book

the plot didn't seem to go anywhere and this was made worse by the terrible accents that were used throughout, I wouldn't have finished it if it wasn't a reading for book club

2 people found this helpful

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wonderful book, let down a little by the narration

The book is beautiful, a story and characters who will stay with me for years. But the narrator was disappointing - accents all over the place, some words mispronouned, etc, etc.

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting and unexpected

A slow burn of a book which holds the attention. You get glimpses of back story to explain the current situation.
Fully formed characters - I could picture them in my head. It gave an interesting take on the ‘underworld’ of London after dark - the street sweeping, traffic wardens ,hotel workers etc and the lovely strength of community within. I feel drawn to the Old Kent Rd. As an animal lover did feel a little concerned about the graphic descriptions of the animals that were killed at different stages- not what I’d expected from reading the back cover!
It was beautifully read but the narrator did struggle with the word pasty (as in Cornish pasty!!!) which made me smile!!

1 person found this helpful

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Sublime

An refreshingly original novel. Humans as well as animals are protagonists, and they are beautifully drawn. The different love stories are gripping and heartwarming. Forna is an amazing storyteller but also an educator.

1 person found this helpful

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Incredibly dull, meandering story

Ordinarily I like Aminatta’s novels hence why I purchased this one but my goodness, this is dull. Neither Attila nor Jean is particularly captivating or memorable. Dull, dull, dull...

Also, the narrator does a poor Ghanaian accent and an equally poor British one.

Couldn’t continue and I’ve decided to return the audiobook.

1 person found this helpful

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Not for me

I kept this book because I bought it as part of a buy one get one free deal. I started it a d read five other books before I came back to try and finish it and still couldn't get through it.
The descriptions of the fox and various wildlife felt a long-winded. The narration was also not favourite.
The Author's works could be an acquired taste but sure I won't be buying books by this author again.

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Aminatta Forma is brilliant

this author has become one of my favourites
loved the characters each with a brief background story. the narrator was excellent in her delivery of the voices of the characters