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The Bricks That Built the Houses

Narrated by: Kate Tempest
Length: 9 hrs and 56 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (166 ratings)

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Summary

The Sunday Times best seller.

Award-winning poet and rapper Kate Tempest's electrifying debut novel takes us into the beating heart of the capital in this multigenerational tale of drugs, desire and belonging.

It gets into your bones. You don't even realise it until you're driving through it, watching all the things you've always known and leaving them behind.

Young Londoners Becky, Harry and Leon are leaving town in a fourth-hand Ford Cortina with a suitcase full of money. They are running from jealous boyfriends, dead-end jobs, violent maniacs and disgruntled drug dealers, in the hope of escaping the restless tedium of life in Southeast London - the place they have always called home.

As the story moves back in time, to before they had to leave, we see them torn between confidence and self-loathing, between loneliness and desire, between desperate ambition and the terrifying prospect of getting nothing done.

In The Bricks That Built the Houses, Kate Tempest explores contemporary city life with a powerful moral microscope, giving us irresistible stories of hidden lives and showing us how the best intentions don't always lead to the right decisions.

Cover designed by Greg Heinimann.

©2016 Kate Tempest (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

Critic reviews

"One of the leading wordsmiths of our time. She turns her raw, observational skills in book form to the urban young growing up poor - sex, drugs and increasing poverty amid the looming threat of gentrification." (Jon Snow)
"This is a bold, bright, beguiling novel; a lustrous pageant that dazzles and grips. An irresistible, immersive snapshot of a changing world, delivered in woozy, staccato sentences. There's great pleasure to be taken from Tempest's debut. She may well be unstoppable." ( Sunday Telegraph)
"It's hard not to be blown away by Kate Tempest. A stirring, post-Dickensian lens trained on London's lonely underbelly." ( Evening Standard)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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

Stunning use of language

To be honest, I had never heard of Kate Tempest before listening to this audio book. I cannot believe what a gap that was in my life. Her use of language ranks with the very, very best. Dylan Thomas, Ernest Hemingway, Arundhati Roy and the like. I found that the language of The Bricks that Built the Houses conjured vivid images for me. I could see the people and places being described, and could feel the emotions and tactile descriptions. The book is a poem and the story feels real, but despite the grim and gritty background to the story there is beauty and love, joy and passion that deserve to be recognized and nodded to. I absolutely loved this book and would recommend it to anyone with an open mind and heart.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Step back into 1990s South London

I'm not certain exactly when this story is set but it took me right back to my youth in 1990s South London. The characters feel genuine - I met so many people just like them at the time - and the story weaves them together, gradually, perfectly.
The ending manages to swerve shy of clichés and I could just about believe it could work out that way.
I knew of Kate Tempest before listening to this book but am now a firm fan. I love her voice but wasn't sure if her spoken-word/street-poet style of narration would "do my head in" after a while. It didn't! She provides the perfect beat and pause for the descriptive parts, but the conversations sound natural and I was totally absorbed.
I'm sad to have finished it and will be looking out for more of her work in future.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding, in every way

Kate Tempest is a words smith of huge magnitude. I loved every crafted description and found myself recounting phases like "she was as skinny as rain" "their bags were as full as the night bus". Wonderfully read and a joy to hear even when the story content tells of the sometimes harshness in individual lives. Can't wait to hear more from Kate Tempest.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A grimey tale of south London bought to life

I really like Kate Tempest and it was great to hear her narrate this book herself. Her delivery is rhythmic and direct and the storyline pulls no punches in its description of south Londoners in their struggles through life in a similar vein to her Let Them Eat Chaos work. Kate is fantastic at building complex characters that are realistic and believable and her word play is incredibly detailed and compelling. The rounded vowels of her south London dialect provide authenticity which I cannot imagine for someone reading this story themselves.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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poetic justice

I really liked the structure of this story with the characters backstories interwining from the main one.
I thought it was a good insight into modern day life and really liked the characters, especially Harry. would recommend this book and am definitely going to listen to it again with my boyfriend

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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such easy effortless conversational writing.

loved it, like her music but deeper, more conversational, didn't want it to finish.
brilliant

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Just listen.

I have been obsessed with this book ever since listening to “everybody down” it feels like my understanding has been has been expanded and I have seen the same scenes from different angles. Anything by Kate is gold and the fact she reads it herself makes it so much better.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Donn
  • Ireland
  • 10-02-18

rich and recommended

Taking the basic storyline from 'Everybody Down, Tempests album, expanding the story, filling out the characters and making small but important changes.

One of the major strengths of this book are the rich and evocative characters, filled out in descriptor's, and Joycean expositions of their inner landscapes. Though circulating primarily around a group of twenty something young people, great care is paid in building images of their parents and full background, how this has played into the inheritance of the central characters, and how historical ancedents have a legacy.

Set in south London on the backdrop of poverty and dreams, Tempests rich and playful use of language makes this book, and her reading of it (more aptly perhaps performance) makes it an act of pure genius.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The best contemporary fiction I've read in a while

If you could sum up The Bricks That Built the Houses in three words, what would they be?

Edgy, piercing, beautiful.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Bricks That Built the Houses?

I personally enjoyed the beginning of the book and its take down of the London elite's culture. She summed it up perfectly.

What does Kate Tempest bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Her performance is unique in comparison to any other audiobook I have listened to. Nobody else could have gotten close to expressing the essence of the book than Kate herself (something which isn't always to be taken for granted).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing book, modern day shakespear...

Would you consider the audio edition of The Bricks That Built the Houses to be better than the print version?

Yes - Kate's reading is part of the lyrical mastery of this production. Her delivery and character portrayal are just outstanding.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Pete's birthday at the pub, becasue it is the perfect climax to the setup.

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

So many moments that moved me! Her character portraits are mu favourite thing about her writing.

Any additional comments?

I honestly think that listening to Kate Tempest is like what it must have been listening to Shakespear at the time - her word economy, and detailed picture painting is phenomenal. This is an unpredictable and exciting first novel which I inhaled as it was so good.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-10-17

Beautifully written but disappointing narration

The narrator's accent was grating and distracting. Once you get past the accent the story is beautifully told though. Wonderfully descriptive text.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful