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Summary

For me it all goes back to that night, the dark corroded hinge between before and after, the slipped-in sheet of trick glass that tints everything on one side in its own murky colours and leaves everything on the other luminous and untouchable. 

One night changes everything for Toby. A brutal attack leaves him traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his uncle's rambling home, the Ivy House, filled with cherished memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.

But not long after Toby's arrival, a discovery is made. A skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden. 

As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past and himself.

A spellbinding stand-alone from a literary writer who turns the crime genre inside out, The Wych Elm asks what we become, and what we're capable of, if we no longer know who we are.

©2018 Tana French (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

What listeners say about The Wych Elm

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Long, dull and poorly narrated.

This book needs editing. A lot of editing. So much detail, so little story. I’ve never been a huge fan of the author and this long winded, dull tome has only served to cement my feelings. The plot never gets going and although the character descriptions are penned perfectly, I just didn’t care about the people they described.

As for the narrator, I thought initially that he was being ironic doing a ‘girly’ voice for the lead’s girlfriend. But no, that’s just how he sees women clearly. Absolutely cringe inducing.

21 people found this helpful

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Twenty hours too long!

Someone should have edited this much more heavily. The interior monologues from the main character Toby were tedious in the extreme and he just seemed two-dimensional.

I hung in there hoping for a big reveal that just didn't happen.

The narrator used a strange nasal voice for the girlfriend which was just irritating. This was my first Tana French book and probably the last.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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The Wych Elm

I nearly gave up on this book as it took fully half to get going. It is a good engaging story but just too long at 20 hours.

4 people found this helpful

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Tremendous book with a gripping storyline

Having relished in the Dublin Murder Squad series, I was intrigued to listen to a Tana French story from the other perspective.
Excellent characters, with some quite shocking twists which keep you fully engaged to the final lines.
What a brilliant author Tana French is - when is the next book out? I highly recommend this and all her books.
Tim D

4 people found this helpful

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Prolonged agony

A brilliant story, gripping and well conceived. Mostly really well read, though at times a bit melodramatic. There were times I wanted it over, but that said, I stuck with it to the end. There were also times when I could’ve hit the golden boy myself!! Within the framework, a not so subtle comment about the way privilege can buy a person out of trouble, where the less fortunate would undoubtedly have had to suffer the consequences much more...

3 people found this helpful

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it's very long

some good bits but overall just too long. Narrator 'put on' women's voices which was pretty grating, but was fine other than that.

5 people found this helpful

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Can't get past the narration

Maybe one day I'll buy the physical book and read as I just couldn't get into the audiobook with the narration. Putting on a silly voice to read out texts got irritating very quickly. Unfortunately a DNF from me.

5 people found this helpful

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Dull

This book is far too long and so dull I had to give up! Very disappointing. Nothing happens until the middle of the book by which time you've had enough.

1 person found this helpful

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lots of intrigue and brilliantly read

Enjoyed it because of how well it was written. It really felt like you knew all the characters and that they were part of the family. Quite disturbing in places and wished there were more high points than low points in the story.

1 person found this helpful

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Disappointing book - terrible narration

I was recommended this book as the new "Secret History"which is deeply misleading. It is so far from anything Donna Tart would write as it is simplistic, cliched, boring and predictable. Maybe the book isn't so bad but the narration is so utterly dire that it is hard to tell. Perhaps the narrator was also so bored by the story that he felt he had to liven it up with terrible camp voices and his ghastly intonation. Total waste of time.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lee Ruthenberg
  • 30-10-19

Deep inside the head of someone I can't care about

My audible list is quite full of Tana French - up till now - thoroughly enjoyed both for the excellent reading performances from various voice artists and for the slow paced but engrossing psychological narratives. Being inside the heads of interesting detectives, the realistic politics of Irish police stations and even the unusual intrigue of Irish life; from Dublin's wealthy private schools to working class neighborhoods.
The blurb of Wych Elm promised something similar - alluding to a potential situation similar to The Likeness where the house itself played as an additional rich character.
But as you begin a 22 hour audio book - you really need to start by caring about the protagonist. Empathizing, sympathizing or just intrigued by what might happen to him. Or what they may do to those around them. I disliked the reader and the character from the start. The reader sounded so insipidly weak that the characters confidence in the beginning was intangible and unbelievable. I then didn't care about his attack or what might happen to him afterwards. The prospect of another 19 hours was unbearable. Perhaps I will try and read this book myself, since it has been generally well received by critics - but I cannot listen to Nugent's version.

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  • rosemary
  • 30-08-19

Soul Searching

This is a sad, haunting tale of a young man's continual search for identity. The beautiful lyrical writing and the insightful sensitive characterisation make this one of Tana French's best novels. Excellent, sympathetic reading by Paul Nugent captures the mood and intensity of his struggle, thus giving it an authenticity that makes it a thoroughly enjoyable and compulsive listen.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-05-19

Perfect holiday novel

I really enjoyed everything about this book and listened pretty much non-stop. I went to bed early for a week so I could be alone :-) A perfectly plotty whodunnit.