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Summary

A rueful, funny examination of love, marriage, infidelity and origami. Simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, this sensational debut will appeal to fans of David Nicholls, Nick Hornby, Nora Ephron and Lorrie Moore.

Graham Cavanaugh's second wife, Audra, is everything his first wife was not. She considers herself privileged to live in the age of the hair towel; talks nonstop through her epidural, labour and delivery; invites the doorman to move in and the eccentric members of their son's Origami Club to Thanksgiving. She is charming and spontaneous and fun, but life with her can be exhausting.

In the midst of the day-to-day difficulties and delights of marriage and raising a child with Asperger's, his first wife, Elspeth, reenters Graham's life. Former spouses are hard to categorize - are they friends, enemies, old flames or just people who know you really, really well? Graham starts to wonder: how can anyone love two such different women? Did he make the right choice? Is there a right choice?

©2017 Katherine Heiny (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Audra Daltry is a singular creation - a character so funny, so appealing, so sure that she can change the world for her family that she will jump right off the page and take up permanent residence in your heart. Standard Deviation is a marvel." (Kate Atkinson, author of Life After Life)
"A book so funny and perceptive I want to be friends with its author." (Laline Paull, author of The Bees)
"I have been a fan of Katherine Heiny's writing for years but my adoration of her reaches a new apex with this, her first novel, Standard Deviation. It's an irresistibly charming novel about age-old institutions: marriage and parenting. But Heiny's brilliantly drawn characters and her keen insights make both topics feel brand new. A delightful, refreshing novel that illuminates the world of complicated relationships." (Elin Hilderbrand, author of Here's to Us)

What listeners say about Standard Deviation

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

Achingly funny, sad and heartwarming

If you are looking for a book that with make you smile, laugh out loud and occasionally make your heart ache, then you will adore this. This is about Graham and Audra, a middle aged married couple bringing up their son who had Asperger’s syndrome in a New York apartment. Graham is quiet and reflective whereas Audra is an outgoing woman who for whom red lights don’t exist and often behaves outrageously mostly to Graham’s chagrin. In the background is Graham’s ex-wife, Elspeth a woman much closer to Graham’s personality and during the course of the story he reflects on whether he did the right thing in leaving Elspeth for Audra.
This is a story about guilt, infidelity, love and eccentricity and it revolves around tricky situations, mostly created by Audra, which Graham has to navigate as time goes by. I loved both Graham and Audra, despite the fact they were occasionally selfish and heartless, sometimes in surprising and shocking ways. There is a fantastic cast of characters, ranging from Mathew the son, the various people Audra invites to stay at the apartment, the origami club, the parents of Matthew’s friends and of course Elspeth herself, all taking us on a journey that I wanted to go on forever.
I was wondering whether I wanted to read this or listen to the Audible version and I am very glad I chose the latter as it was superbly narrated.
This gets a 100% A++++ recommendation from me and I know I will go back to it again and again.

14 people found this helpful

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Disappointed

This is supposed to be a comedy? Full of doom gloom and totally unrelatable characters. I struggled through to Chapter 5 and couldn't take any more.

4 people found this helpful

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Well written but boring to extreme.

The story lacks a plot and gumption. I have patiently waited until the end for something to happen and nothing did. It felt tediously mundane and ordinary. Such a pity for an otherwise well written book...

3 people found this helpful

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Boring, plotless, ramble

It has no plot, it is not funny. It rambles on. I listened on audible, I found the characters unlikeable and annoying.. and then it just stops. An odd book!

2 people found this helpful

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Dull and aimless

This novel had a few moments where I cracked a smile but not laugh out loud funny as has been said by other reviewers. My main criticisms of the novel are that it didn't go anywhere, there wasn't a single character I particularly cared about and that the author's writing style involved endless comparisons which became grating. I'm amazed that for a novel set in New York the only person in the story that wasn't white was the friendly doorman. This is a story about boring privileged people and the little bubble they live in. Perhaps that works for some but I couldn't wait to finish this and move on to something else.

2 people found this helpful

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Fun and sadness - chalk and cheese

Unusually I chose this book in a hurry without knowing anything about the writer. I loved it. The characters are so well drawn they stay with you. There is a great current of understated humour which made me laugh often on my way through the book. There is delight, disappointment, sadness and optimism. Read it!

2 people found this helpful

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Everyone knows at least one “Audra”!

A funny and feel good novel about a married couple and their son. I really enjoyed it, the narration was excellent but I agree that the story appeared to end abruptly. Perhaps there might be a sequel. Loved the stack contrast in personalities between the couple, literally chalk and cheese but they make it work - like lots of people. Definitely made me smile and laugh out loud.

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Enjoyable, funny and poignant

I enjoyed listening to this story, well read by Cassandra Campbell. It’s an acutely well-observed account of everyday family life when the family have adjusted to the differences that come with having a neuro-atypical child. It’s at times laugh-out-loud funny (Audra is one of the great comic characters) and unexpectedly moving. For me it’s not in the canon of literary classics but definitely worth listening to and I will go and explore other novels by Katherine Heiny.

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WOW

Very enjoyable. Defo recommend. well worth a listen. Narration was good and so was performance and story. This book is brilliant, funny and different.

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Delightful and real

More and more these days, I"m finding books have sections that need to be powered through to get to the good stuff. Not so with Standard Deviation which is such a delightful story full of humour, relatable relationships, weirdness, love, loss and just the way life is. It's intriguing and engrossing from the start, and every listening session was a complete joy.
Cassandra Campbell was the perfect choice for narration and I loved every moment and was sorry to come to the end of this beautiful human story about Audra, Graham, and Matthew.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-06-18

Loved the Narrator

For me this book started off well but but the 4th Chapter it became a whole lot of the same story line for the next 5 chapters. I did appreciate the reflections on parenthood but constantly wondering who is cheating on who annoyed me. ONLY reason I finished the book was because I really enjoyed the narrator.