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Milkman

Narrated by: Bríd Brennan
Length: 14 hrs and 11 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (814 ratings)
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Summary

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2018 

In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. 

But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous.

Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

©2018 Anna Burns (P)2018 Faber Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant but terrifying!

The Troubles in N. Ireland back then seemed largely a world away from the Midlands of England growing up. This an account of a teenager’s life on the Catholic side of town is beautifully written yet terrifying how what happened almost felt normal.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker this year and has to be a worthy contender to win.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Very, Very Good

This is about Middle Sister, 18 years old, perhaps slightly geeky and a social misfit trying to cope with the troubles by avoiding them. She doesn't like the 20th Century so absorbs herself in 19th Century literature which she reads while walking in the park. That in itself upsets the community.

Anna Burns' writing gives us insight into what it was like to live amidst the Northern Ireland troubles of the 70s and 80s. The no-go areas, over the road, over the water, our religion, the other religion, punishment, behaviour beyond the pale.

Mostly the characters are only given nick-names; Ma, Pa, Elder Sister, Second Sister, First Brother-in-Law, Tablet Girl, Nuclear Boy etc. This makes it really easy to keep track of who everybody is. I wish more books would do that.

There are some wonderful snippets such as...'the only time anybody would call the police would be to shoot them. They know that and don't come.' While the reader is absorbing such snippets the narrator continues relentlessly,so you have to keep stopping and winding back 30 seconds.

Mostly the story is told by a sometimes complex series of diversions before getting back to where the author left off. The reader is tempted to lose concentration during such diversions, but shouldn't. The diversions are really what the book is all about and contain the finest writing. I love the way the author seems to delve into a thesaurus to find the best word to use and finds she can't choose the best word so we get them all... it really amazes me how the author kept up the fine writing for all 14 hours 11 minutes. There really is no padding.

I particularly liked the narration by Brid Brennan, unlike Ian Paisley, she really makes the N. Ireland accent sound quite beautiful. She seemed to have an appreciation of the work and relished every word that she was reading.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Excellent narration and a good book

Third booker read/listen this year and certainly the best so far (Donal Ryan and Michael Ondaatje were a little disappointing). It is about an 18-year old girl and how she tries not to care about what the people in her paranoid and gossip-sick neighbourhood in Northern-Ireland during the troubles think about her. And then how her trying not to care makes things only get worse.

There is a section around half-way where things move a little slow and at some point I was even tempted to give it up, but I am very glad I continued as the end is the best. The beautiful voice of the narrator certainly helped in persevering!

27 of 29 people found this review helpful

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Hugely Enjoyable

Firstly, Brid Brennan delivers an outstanding narration of Anna Burns work. You can hear her own love for the work she's narrating in every sentence spoken.

The work itself is stunning. Yes, it's set in the time of The Troubles and it's depiction of that place is detailed. But it's the way Anna Burns writes about people, their 'psychologicals', their complex, contradictory simple behaviour that makes this so compelling. Special mention to the 4 hour passage that takes us from a classroom to outside the family home in a stream of divergencies. You wonder at Burns skill holding the narrative together but she does. This is one of those rare books that you keep within you. I loved it. "Yes but"...

34 of 37 people found this review helpful

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what a great book

I loved it from start to finish , stimulating and unusual, great narration too. I will be listening to it again soon.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Remarkable and important

This astonishing book, with a unique voice, is a profound reconstruction of what it was like for an under confident 18 year old girl to live through and be formed by the Northern Irish troubles in the 1970s. Essentially this is a story about stalking and psychological terror. It is sad, gripping, funny and compelling. The reading by Bríd Brennan is flawless, with particular good rendition of child voices (the wee sisters).

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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absolutely divine comedy

loved, loved loved this! funny, witty, enthralling, evocative of exacty how life was in '80s Belfast, thank you Anna for such amazing writing and Brid for such fantastic delivery

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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BRILLIANT

This book is just simply fabulous. The audible version was a little slow to start, but once I adjusted to the pace and language I raced through it! I am not surprised it's on the Booker shortlist. Would Highly Recommend. BRILLIANT

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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An insight into 'the troubles'.

I was glad I got this book via Audible, as it was a 'hard enough listen' and would certainly have been an extrenely 'hard read' in places. The style of giving multiple choices or nuances of meanings (and even lists in places) I found quirky, and at first, enjoyable and interesting, as she was obviously trying to find the right word for a tricky feeling or experience. But that initial enjoyment moved to mild iritation and occasional annoyance further into the book as, surely no one can be THAT unsure of how they felt, on EVERY situation!
On a positive note, I enjoyed the: 'Nuclear boy', '3rd Sister' etc convention of referring to people, refreshing and really helpful. As a 'person from over the water', I found the book a reminder of just how much we had added to the already tense and complex lives that were lived, particularly during the period covered by the book.
I'm glad I was patient and stayed with it to the end.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant but miserable

A languid and literary read that draws you in and comforts you, before you realise how relentlessly miserable it is. I learned alot about The Troubles, and the main character's internal narrative and poetic, bluntly literal turn of phrase is brilliant. Not surprising it won the Booker, but there were times i just wanted to get to the end. The 'wee sisters' - child geniuses, whose existence in the novel was clearly making some grand intellectual point that went straight over my head - were the most charming characters i've come across in a while.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicole Del Sesto
  • 27-07-18

Beyond the Pale

What a great start to Booker season!  I loved this book.  I thought the writing clever and the story engrossing.  It's an unnamed time and an unnamed place (actually Northern Ireland during the "troubles") with unnamed characters.  

Through the voice of our narrator ("middle sister" and "maybe girlfriend" and "friend") we explore issues of the time including: politics; feminism; family; individuality, conformity and love.   What it's like to group up in a place where everybody knows you and if you stick out even a little bit, to assume the worst about you.

There's a psychological  element as well, which added a layer of suspense to the whole story which I thought was done extremely well. 

I listened to the audio which only added to my enjoyment.  The narrator was perfect and the parts of the writing which would have been outstanding in the reading of them were really enhanced. 

A top 2018 read for me.   

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Jennifer S. Leblanc
  • 20-08-18

Exquisitely narrated!

The narration is so good on this wild story that it makes it worth reading.
I struggled thru the first half of this book, confused by the circumstances and what seemed like to much character development without enough context development. By the last hour, it all came together beautifully and I loved the story. But I admit that I might not have gotten that far without the brilliant work of the narrator.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • kurdis teed
  • 30-09-18

Shortlisted for the Booker...and for good reason

Finally, something a bit different. Anna Burns' manages to do something different in an age when everything has already been done. It's nothing drastic, but Milkman really is a good book. I had my doubts at first, but I hung in there due to one of the best performances I've ever heard. Brid Brennan is a goddess when it comes to narration.

As I make my way through the Booker longlist, Milkman is my pick as of now. Sadly, I predict many people will give up on it too soon, as not a lot happens immediately. I also enjoyed The Mars Room and Snap. Warlight is my least favorite of the four contenders I've listened to. While I'm not sure if Milkman is the best written story of this bunch, it's the best audiobook. If there's a better one on the list, I'll be glad to hear it. Overall rating:

4.46 stars

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Andre
  • 23-12-18

Supremely entertaining!

This book allowed me to understand the trials and tribulations of being a woman in a conflicted corner of the world in a difficult period. But I am sure that a lot of it holds true for any place and any time. And, we get a peek of the toll of the conflict to daily existence, without sermonizing or without the sheen of ideology. I am happy to have gotten the chance to listen to the book. The reader is amazing.

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  • Justin Z.
  • 11-12-18

Best #Metoo themed yet

This is a convincing and compelling exploration of the many ways in which women (and men) can be subtly trapped in invisible tyrannies. Unlike other more pretentious works (esp recent dystopian #metoo works) Milkman does this in a grounded way without resorting to gimmicks. Anna Burns’ voice is unique and the reading in the vernacular is fantastic.

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  • E.M. Biggs
  • 09-12-18

Brilliant narration

This excellent novel, set in the 1970s in a divided and violent North Ireland, hinged on the psychological effects of a stalker on an eighteen year old girl. It was brilliantly and evocatively read by the narrator.

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  • J. Houlding
  • 08-12-18

Incredible! Must listen!

This is an amazing novel with a perfect narrator and a compelling story in a unique voice. Listen now.

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  • Robin
  • 05-12-18

Brilliantly read

I approached this book warily, having found most previous Booker winners unreadable, and I’m pretty sure I would find this unreadable too in text form. It’s written from deep inside the narrator’s head, with many lengthy stream-of-consciousness passages of a type that I usually find impenetrable.

What saves it is the absolutely brilliant reading by Brid Brennan. She brings an enormous intelligence to the reading, and has obviously done an enormous amount of work to understand the rhythms and complexity of the prose, and as a result the attentive listener will have little difficulty following the narrative and the flow of events.

Others have written about the subject matter more or less informatively. For me what stands out is the powerlessness of the 18-year-old narrator to resist the restrictions that surround her and the constraints that are put upon her by the overwhelmingly oppressive society and circumstances into which she was born and in which she lives. The sense of foreboding is so intense that at times I was reluctant to read further for fear of what might happen next.

This is a highly rewarding book, and I cannot speak highly enough of Brid Brennan’s reading.

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  • xx
  • 04-11-18

Marvelous

Book itself astounding and clever. I am very familiar with Irish history so viewed the story through the intended lens, however, it is easily perceived as a universal story even if you don’t know the name of the “country across the water” or “over the border.” The non use of proper names is not at all confusing and I rather don’t understand why this book has a difficult reputation. Narration was perfect. Accent authentic with the correct blend of Irish and near Scottish indicative of Northern Irish. (As opposed to English narrator to Sebastian Barry book - just so WRONG!) embark upon this journey today! Book underestimated even. And Booker prize wildly biased typically against Irish authors so know this novel met an even higher standard than other winners. Enjoy. I envy you experiencing it for the first time.

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  • Ereader
  • 26-10-18

Magnificent

Unforgettable and unique. A tour de force. This is such a deserving winner of the Man Booker.