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Summary

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and true identity, how they shape us and how we can survive them. Moving from Northwest London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.

Two brown girls dream of being dancers - but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early 20s, never to be revisited but never quite forgotten, either....

©2016 Zadie Smith (P)2016 Penguin Books Ltd.

What members say

Average customer ratings

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

Smith's best yet with perfect narrator

I choose Swing Time because all my friends were raving about it. They were right! This is a gripping, perfectly-paced read which explores our main character's challenging relationships with her mother, employer and - above all - her childhood best friend. There is a toxic dimension to all these key female relationships but Smith excels in showing the complicity and complexity of each. Bennett-Warner provides the perfect reading (especially of our insecure main character) and I hope this will be the first of many recordings for audible.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Couldn't stop reading

Loved the story, the subtlety of the characterisations and thoughtful insights into race celebrity, power of money. I think this is Zadie Smith's best book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Tailed off into a confusing narrative

Would you try another book written by Zadie Smith or narrated by Pippa Bennett-Warner?

The narration was fine.

Any additional comments?

The story jumped around a lot and I didn't find the characters likeable. Disappointing.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

Such a let down, no real substance. Fewer words with developed characters and some plot needed here.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

excellent narrator and wonderful story

narrator was so good. really giving life to the characters. the story was great too. gently unpicking the subtleties of childhood friendships

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Just brilliant

Acute observations that all can relate to here, characterisation so visual, really didn't want the story to end, sad but true to life events, narrated brilliantly, great read.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

begins OK, but gets really dull.

This has a few funny observations of life in the 70S / 80S , bit the story is weak, and some chapters too dull to bother with. The characters were pretty much 1dimensional.
boring
don't waste a credit on it

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant

Great writing and a perfect performance. Pippa Bennett-Warner’s read is brilliant. I highly recommend this book.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Rob
  • London, UK
  • 28-04-18

Really disappointing, despite a decent narration.

Zadie Smith has long been a writer I’ve admired and often loved, but this book is seriously turgid stuff. You keep waiting to care, and it never comes. The characters are mostly ciphers (often patronising ones), except for the narrator, who’s... well, *nothing*, really. She’s so boring, such a non-person.

Pippa Bennett-Warner does a creditable job (despite being a bit inconsistent with accents: the narrator’s mother often slips from her established light Jamaican-English into Bennett-Warner’s own pleasant default RP), but she can’t save this from being a really disappointing novel.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

confusing to follow at times

audio kept skipping parts so had to keep going back who h spoilt the story line.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • FRANCINE TAFFIN
  • 07-01-17

A good story, shame about the narrator

Zadie Smith has not disappointed. I wouldn't have imagined following a main character (the narrator) that seems so clueless about the world around her, be it her family, her boss, the African village where she spends weeks, or her erstwhile bff Tracey, but Smith manages to get us to tag along. And at the end of the story, she does seem to connect with reality at last!

What really spoiled my enjoyment was the reader, with her soporific tone. But that wasn't the worst. I just wish she'd refrained from doing accents, they just sounded so off and daft.