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History of Wolves

Narrated by: Caitlin Thorburn
Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (128 ratings)

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Summary

Shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize

Even a lone wolf wants to belong....

Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in an ex-commune beside a lake in the beautiful, austere backwoods of Northern Minnesota. The other girls at school call Linda 'Freak' or 'Commie'. Her parents mostly leave her to her own devices whilst the other inhabitants have grown up and moved on.

So when the perfect family - mother, father and their little boy, Paul - move into the cabin across the lake, Linda insinuates her way into the family's orbit. She begins to babysit Paul and feels that she finally has a place to belong. But something isn't right. Drawn into secrets she doesn't understand, Linda must make a choice. But how can a girl with no real knowledge of the world understand what the consequences will be?

©2017 Emily Fridlund (P)2016 Orion Publishing Group Limited

What listeners say about History of Wolves

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An absorbing novel, with hidden depths.

At a very basic level this novel seems very simple, a tale of a young girl growing up in an unusual environment ( an ex-commune) who becomes attracted to the life of a seemingly ordinary family who live nearby. She becomes drawn in by that family and becomes implicated in the secrets that bind them. It all ends in tragedy and the girl has to examine her part in it.

But this novel is so much more than that straightforward narrative. It examines bullying in all its forms, by adults and children; secrets and lies; the nature of truth; coercion within relationships; religion and the choices that it forces upon vulnerable people; the rights of children; alleged paedophiles and their 'victims'.

It is very atmospheric and the descriptions of the remote area in which the story is set are very vivid. The only thing that bothered me was the voice of the narrator. Someone with a little more gravitas would have been more suitable, I felt. but overall, it didn't spoil the story.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good but Bloopers

I found this dark coming-of-age story extremely compelling and it has more emotional resonance for me than anything else on the Booker shortlist this year. Caitlin Thorburn read very well, although the voice was a little teenagy for a woman in her 30's as Madeline is when she narrates the story.

What annoyed me though were the bloopers, when a word was misread and became non-sensical in the context of the sentence - there were quite a few and they were majorly jarring and pulled me out of the story each time. How hard would it be to stop the recording and rerecord that section and get it right? This is a question for all publishers of audiobooks.

10 people found this helpful

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Woah.

Slow burner but worth the wait. DEFINITELY re-read the first 70 ish pages once you're done.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Compelling and rather odd

History of Wolves is a coming of age story that will resonate with many people. Linda, mostly left to raise herself by hippy, laid back parents, lives in Northern Minnesota, on grounds that used to belong to a commune, of which her parents were members.

Linda is 14, melodramatic and poetic. She's somewhat obsessed with a classmate, Lily, who spread rumours that their teacher, Me Grierson, molested her though this is questionable. Linda's narrative often veers off into dark corners, and the way the story is told (going back and forth, from teenage Linda to older Linda, reminiscing) only serves to increase the feeling of unease as the reader continues through the story.

The girl also spends a lot of time babysitting Paul, a toddler who moved into a cabin across the lake with his mother, Patra. Paul's father, Leo, is often working away, but when he arrives, Linda's relationship with Petra becomes strained. Patra's youth becomes glaringly obvious when her older husband appears. As a reader you're aware that something terrible has happened, but author Emily Fridlund trickled the information into your mind, keeping you reading until the end. The story surrounds Linda feeling both as a victim and a wrongdoer.

It's not the best Man Booker long list read as at times the narrative is far too disjointed. But the author writes very well.

1 person found this helpful

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Outstanding - such great scenes, so tense, so real

Don't know why this book hasn't garnered many rave reviews yet - it is a excellently-written novel, fantastically staged scenes with a believable and fascinating heroine. The tension is built up slowly and effectively. Narration is expertly done too. Not a dull moment in the whole book, it's wonderful.

1 person found this helpful

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Intriguing and enjoyable

This didn't blow my mind, but I'd certainly recommend it. I had no idea what was going to happen and it was compelling.

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Not for everyone

Maybe it's just me or not... but for some reason I didn't enjoy the book.
It goes from one time period to another then back again. It feels like someone reads a diary and jumps back and forth. It is a bit hard to keep p with the action.
I could only listed to half of the audio book and I gave up.
Maybe someone else will like it.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Confusing switch between irrelevant time periods

difficult read but was very drawn in at the beginning. after halfway the time periods started to switch, which usually adds more depth to a story, but it made following the storylines confusing and some areas didn't seem to add any value. nothing added up at the end, the last chapter doesn't fit with the rest of the book.

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If only something would have happened

This book suffers from revealing its hand too early, then failing to make the interim interesting or having enough to say about its biggest topic. Instead a listless narrator of little depth fails to see something, then fails to have the capacity to help us explore it in any useful depth. A shame.

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Well written and original

Interesting story that defies expectation. Central character has a unique voice. The prose style is direct, concise, and easy to listen to.

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  • Mallika
  • 17-06-18

Terrible

The book shifts between the past and present and there is no real development. It's a twisted way of stating what bad things happened in the past and Linda never going past it. There is no resolution and the ending is pointless. I believe I wasted my time listening to this one. In the end I wanted the ending to justify my reading this book but I was frustrated.

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  • JohnyCash
  • 15-06-17

The worst piece of art i listened to

Just a collection of unimportant chats and thoughts that doesn't make any sense. It is very poor attempt to attract some listeners.