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My Real Children

By: Jo Walton
Narrated by: Alison Larkin
Length: 9 hrs and 30 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Summary

It's 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. "Confused today," read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know - what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don't seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.

Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War - those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?

Two lives, two worlds, two versions of modern history; each with their loves and losses, their sorrows and triumphs. Jo Walton's My Real Children is the tale of both of Patricia Cowan's lives... and of how every life means the entire world.​

©2014 Jo Walton (P)2014 Audible Inc.

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Profile Image for RueRue
  • RueRue
  • 17-04-15

Great story, intriguing concept

Loved the concept and the story built from the choice made by Patricia. A very intriguing and interesting story. Very much a character-driven plot, and very little "science fiction". Alison Larkin was the perfect narrator for this.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Lauren
  • 08-01-15

A strange take on an otherwise simple story.

What did you like best about My Real Children? What did you like least?

I liked the alternate history elements mentioned in the background of the main story, The main story itself, both Pat and Trish was engaging enough, but slow paced and without tension. The ending was ultimately unfulfilling, and i would have enjoyed some kind of exploration into the "why" of the parallel worlds. Was a little depressing overall.

Would you be willing to try another book from Jo Walton? Why or why not?

Probably not, a little substanceless and slow paced for my liking. not a bad book overall however.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Alison Larkin?

yes. she did a good job.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Amanda Whipp
  • 06-08-18

Such a lovely book

This is what I would classify as a “soft sci-fi.” It is about a woman who lives two lives, and no different lives were ever lived.

I love this book! It takes a little while to get used to the narrator, but I wouldn’t want anyone else to read it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Safe Mommy
  • 29-12-15

Intriguing

What did you love best about My Real Children?

Nothing is decided at the end of this book. Which path did Patricia (Pat) really take? Did she marry the man who would make her life miserable? Did she take the unconventional path? Why can't she figure out which of her memories are real? Which of the dear children she remembers are her real children? Are the others really a figment of her imagination? Does she even really want to know or would she rather just keep her happy memories?

Who was your favorite character and why?

Things are clear in the memory of sweet Patricia until dementia takes over and she can't remember the details of her life after a life-changing decision. Did she say yes to the overbearing man who would become her husband or did she say no and follow a completely unconventional and controversial path. Was she known to those she loved as Patricia or as Pat?

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Nothing about this novel is ordinary. This book will leave you guessing long after the last page has been read. It leaves you wondering about Patricia (Pat's) choices in life as well as your own.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Don Chartock
  • 24-01-15

Beautiful and Sad

Two lives lived. Do you like thinking about alternative timelines and character development? Then this may be a good book for you.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Jeff Koeppen
  • Jeff Koeppen
  • 02-11-19

Excellent Tale of Patricia's Two Lives

I've said it a number of times, these books in which a character lives multiple lives fascinate me to no end. I can't help to think back on my own life and the the pivotal decisions I made which brought me to where I currently am. It all could've been so different!

My Real Children begins and ends with Patricia Cowan in a nursing home in England suffering from dementia while trying to keep straight the memories of her past life (lives). Memories of two sets of families and two world history timelines are swirling around in her head, and she can remember details of both when her memory is functioning. In between the beginning and ending chapters we live both of her lives with her. Her life seems to have diverged when, as a young lady, she was given an ultimatum from her boyfriend that they had to wed "now or never".

I was really impressed how fleshed out the characters were, and there were many; a unique set in each timeline. Both timelines contained alternate world histories, which were also interesting, but confusing. Living in Europe from the 1920s to the 2010s, world events had a major effect on the lives of Pat and her families as you would expect. I believe it would've made more sense to have one timeline consist of real world history which I already knew, so I wouldn't have to wrack my brain to try to remember what was going on in whichever of the two worlds each chapter happened to be set in. My own failing memory would've appreciated getting a break on half of the chapters.

Overall, this was a very well written tale and a fun read. The Audible narrator Alison Larkin was excellent and a pleasure to listen to. 4.5 stars.

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  • Don Norman
  • 20-09-19

A beautiful performance of an extraordinary story.

I wont go on and on. This one is worth your time. It is full of unpresupposing wisdom and simple beauty. The reader made me love.