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Summary

Bloomsbury presents The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley, read by Theo Solomon.

Come home, if you remember.

The postcard has been held at the sorting office for 91 years, waiting to be delivered to Joe Tournier. On the front is a lighthouse - Eilean Mor, in the Outer Hebrides.

Joe has never left England, never even left London. He is a British slave, one of thousands throughout the French Empire. He has a job, a wife, a baby daughter.

But he also has flashes of a life he cannot remember and of a world that never existed - a world where English is spoken in England and not French.

And now he has a postcard of a lighthouse built just six months ago, that was first written nearly 100 years ago, by a stranger who seems to know him very well.

Joe’s journey to unravel the truth will take him from French-occupied London to a remote Scottish island and back through time itself as he battles for his life - and for a very different future.

©2021 Natasha Pulley (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic reviews

"I loved the vivid and intricate alternate universes of The Kingdoms, and the flawed and complicated people who inhabit them." (Katherine Addison)

"At once fiercely original, joyous and horrifying, The Kingdoms is an awe-inspiring feat of imagination and passion which had me in tears by the end." (Catriona Ward)

"The Kingdoms is an intricate and complex but ultimately very satisfying read, blending time slip and historical fiction with the pace of a thriller and the sweetness of a love story. A unique book." (Sinead Crowley)

What listeners say about The Kingdoms

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book but ...

I have loved all Natasha Pulley’s books to date and it’s possible, with a different narrator, I would love this book too. However, I’ve got to chapter 21 and I am so distracted by Theo Solomon’s delivery, that I’m not sure I’m going to carry on. I think I’ll buy a hard copy instead.
Update: increasing the speed to 1.2x helps - well it does me anyway.
Update 2: I'm sorry to say that with less than 3 hours to go, I have given up and returned the book. I never felt anything for any of the characters and was totally confused by the plot. I think that, with a different narrator, I would try again but for some reason this narrator just grated on me.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A beautiful story

I love Natasha Pulley’s novels and this is no exception. The writing is gorgeous and the characters are just wonderful. Another one, please.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Absolutely brilliant!

Really enjoyed this book. Much as I have all the other Natasha Pulley books.
Can’t wait for the next

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    1 out of 5 stars

Couldn't finish it.

I very quickly found I didn't know or care what was going on.
I chose this book because I am interested in the Napoleonic wars and naval warfare but it was a mistake.
The dialogue throughout is anachronistic, even when the twofold timeframe is taken into account.
The central character (I can't even remember his name) is a complete void. His lack of a past doesn't explain his lack of personality. He has no defining characteristic whatsoever apart from his strange circumstances. He's annoyingly passive, always 'wondering' and never bloody 'doing.' The author seems to have mistakingly formed the impression that this is compelling stuff.
The narration is excruciating. He was obviously told to speak slowly but the effect is that he sounds put-upon and peevish. When he tries to
imitate a woman he uses a strained, feeble voice, like a child pretending to be an old lady. There's a longish section narrated by a female character (don't know who, don't care) and that's when I gave up.
A badly constructed story inhabited by forgettable characters, poorly read.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Clever writing as ever from Natasha Pulley

Clever writing as ever from Natasha Pulley. I’m a bit of a dozer and found I had to keep going back a couple of chapters and then decided to go right back to the beginning and start again as I kept losing the gist, with dates, places etc changing from chapter to chapter. Very complex piece of writing and once again a clever & great story by Natasha Pulley.

Narration was excellent- Theo Solomon has a lovely velvety voice and great phrasing which suits Natasha’s style of writing. Excellent

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Brilliant historical fiction

No spoilers!
Story: fascinating, and brilliant. There's not a lot I can say without spoilers for the story, but suffice it to say that I finished this in a few days - I couldn't put it down! I was even excitedly waiting to listen in my lunch breaks at work!

Performance: Ok, I have to admit, there were some points where the performance of this got to me a bit... The narrator was plainly being reminded to slow down at the start of some chapters - or trying to keep himself slow. It means he sometimes gets annoyingly nasal - but once he gets into his natural cadence and the speed improves, it's markedly better. Those slow bits are infrequent, so stick with it! I like the different voices of characters. Still 5*!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Overcomplicated

Found this story hard to follow with all the changes in dates and geography. Thought it was too long and the plot was extremely convoluted. I felt it kept going round in circles. I finished listening to it out of sheer determination, but didn't really enjoy it

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Brilliant

Loved this story, the narration was fantastic. Natasha Pulley you never disappoint. A creative masterpiece

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Tedious…..

Not strong…. An interesting idea , but poorly written. Characters never believable or interesting enough.
I wouldn’t bother….

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Greatly imaginative plot

I really don’t know where I sit with this book. There’s a very imaginative and complex plot and yet it feels like a book for teenagers in the style of writing and the use of a young sounding narrator for characters in their 30s. I imagine that if you’ve enjoyed her other stuff, you’d love this.