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Barkskins Audiobook

Barkskins

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Publisher's Summary

From Annie Proulx, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain, comes her masterpiece, 10 years in the writing - an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about taming the wilderness and destroying the forest, set over three centuries.

In the late 17th century, two illiterate woodsmen, Rene Sel and Charles Duquet, make their way from Northern France to New France to seek a living. Bound to a feudal lord, a seigneur, for three years in exchange for land, they suffer extraordinary hardship, always in awe of the forest they are charged with clearing, sometimes brimming with dreams of its commercial potential.

Rene marries an Indian healer, and they have children, mixing the blood of two cultures. Duquet travels the globe and back, starting a logging company that will prosper for generations.

Proulx tells the stories of the children, grandchildren, and descendants of these two lineages, the Sels and the Duquets, as well as the descendants of their allies and foes, as they travel back to Europe, to China, to New England, always in quest of a livelihood or a fortune or fleeing stunningly brutal conditions - accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, the revenge of rivals.

In this feat of astonishing imagination, Proulx's inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid - in their greed, lust, vengefulness, sorrow, compassion, and hope - that we follow them with fierce attention. Annie Proulx is one of the most formidable writers of our time, and Barkskins is the story she has been writing all her life: a magnificent American novel.

©2016 Annie Proulx (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

What the Critics Say

Praise for Annie Proulx: "One of the greatest American writers." (Independent)
"A sublimely good writer." (Daily Telegraph)
"It is hard to think of any living writer who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Dickens, with the exception of Proulx." (New Statesman)
"Proulx's prose is monumental." (Observer)
"Like a mystic seeing the transfigured universe, she recreates the beauty of ordinary things." (Independent on Sunday)
"Ms. Proulx writes with all the brutal beauty of one of her Wyoming snowstorms." (Wall Street Journal)
"Annie Proulx is a true original. She has a shrewd understanding of people, a strong feeling for landscape and a wry sense of humour rather like Mark Twain's." (Los Angeles Times)
"Artful, eloquent, wondrous." (Boston Globe)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (91 )
5 star
 (42)
4 star
 (30)
3 star
 (11)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (3)
Overall
4.0 (85 )
5 star
 (36)
4 star
 (25)
3 star
 (13)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (4)
Story
4.4 (84 )
5 star
 (52)
4 star
 (20)
3 star
 (7)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (1)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Erin Aukland 10/02/2017
    Erin Aukland 10/02/2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    47
    7
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    Story
    "depressing and dull"

    The worst audio experience I have ever had. 300 years of suffering, greed and destruction of the natural world, and mercilessly boring. Awful!!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Ander 06/02/2017
    Ron Ander 06/02/2017 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    40
    7
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    Story
    "brilliant!"

    top 3 audio books i have ever listened to. the story and narration are second to none. i highly recommend it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shirley 28/09/2016
    shirley 28/09/2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
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    FOLLOWING
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    Story
    "An amazing saga"

    This book is poetry. The writing is strong and evocative but it is so long covering hundreds of years. ... Hundreds of characters ... Hundreds of stories. An important over-arching story of man's greed and destruction with small shoots of hope.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barb 19/08/2016
    Barb 19/08/2016 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Story
    "boring"

    I did not finish the story did not capture my attention, very slow and dry

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wendy Coffs Harbour, Australia 31/07/2016
    wendy Coffs Harbour, Australia 31/07/2016 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    48
    7
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    0
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    "a disappointment"

    This book seems really sprawling and disjointed. Its baffling, it seemed to try to address too many issues…everything from environmental vandalism, sexism, raciscm, colonialism …. to incest? an ambitious project and didn't quite meet the mark. I really didn't feel connected to ..or particularly like ….. any of the characters. A waste of my time really.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    zen 18/06/2017
    zen 18/06/2017 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Terrible writing"
    What would have made Barkskins better?

    Better writing, the reader did their best to make something out of nothing but reading cliches and lists for hours on end makes this a trial of endurance. Even good editing wouldnt have saved this book,


    What was most disappointing about Annie Proulx’s story?

    Terrible writing, it sounds like a first draft of research cobbled together with cliches. Not up to her usual standard.


    What aspect of Robert Petkoff’s performance might you have changed?

    The reader did just fine with poor material how he survived reading the whole book is a miracle of endurance, we couldnt listen to more than a few hours before we gave up


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Annoyance that we bought a book which was so poorly written


    Any additional comments?

    We would love our money back.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane 01/06/2017
    Jane 01/06/2017
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "slow slow"

    Sorry to say I only read to chapter 10, just couldn't get in to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Pike 30/03/2017
    John Pike 30/03/2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
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    Story
    "a Saga"

    some good characters, but overall it's the innocent natives verse the nasty invaders of North America

    I like her works

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Warwick Foster 01/08/2016
    Warwick Foster 01/08/2016 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What a journey"

    How many generations did it cover? Really recommend. Although how the writing of the first generation survived is a little far reaching.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Malcolm Hart
    Doncaster East, Vic Australia
    16/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Proulx is brilliant as always."

    An absolutely stunning novel. Proulx could not do more to show us how white colonialism has stolen and then destroyed everything it touched in the name of progress.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • DartmoorDiva
    Dartmoor
    30/09/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A real tour de force"

    The summary of this book did not appeal but, having just listened to 'The Shipping News' and loved it, I thought I would try my second Annie Proulx. Very glad I did. A fascinating book, beautifully written and well read. I felt it tailed off slightly at the end and became a little preachy, but that is a minor criticism of a long and enthralling novel. I think listening to the audiobook was a good move for me as I tend to struggle with difficult/unfamiliar names. I suspect the written version would be more of a challenge.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Scotch-writer
    24/12/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very detailed story, but couldn't finish"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Maybe. You can tell Annie Proulx researched this novel thoroughly and you do get a strong feel for the settling of North America, from both the colonizers and the colonized. Often very gritty and thorougly detailed, but after awhile the characters become character studies--summations. A character will be there for several chapters and then die out, so I never got fully invested with any of them. I have read other epic novels and loved them, but with so much years passing, it just became a thing of 'OK, what decades are we onto next? Which generation is this now?' Most of the point of views were from the male characters and rarely from the female. I was also quite annoyed by the dialogue of the Native Americans, which seemed to fall on the stereotypical speech of no reflective verbs 'am', 'is', or 'are'. I was expecting 'Me Tonto' at any moment.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Didn't finish the book.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Robert Petkoff?

    Not really. While his accent range was quite amazing and his pronunciation of French and Danish words and names equally so, his narrative voice wasn't particularly exciting or enganging.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Fiona
    Bournemouth, United Kingdom
    10/11/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A wonderful book"

    Loved this book and will feel bereft now I've finished it. So many important issues covered with an excellent portrayal of the origins of modern days ecological disasters. Captivating story line, fascinating insight into the history of the timber trade. Cannot praise it enough!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Essex , United Kingdom
    2/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Epic & intriguing"

    Great book, flawless performance. Combines family history with ecology & the changes over centuries. Recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • sora
    UK
    28/08/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great American novel status?"

    Annie Proulx manages to combine a history of North American colonialism, environmental destruction and great storytelling. It's not easy to maintain interest in characters over a period of 500 years or whatever, but I think she does it pretty well and makes you care about most of the central characters even if they only appear for a short while. It would have been nice to have a printed family tree available for reference, but mostly I managed to follow who was who. I thought the narrator was fantastic, keeping everyone clearly distinct. There were a few parts where it dragged a bit (unless you are really into trees) but I'm very glad I stuck with it. Wish Trump would read it and learn.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Averil Newsam
    Middlesbrough, UK
    4/08/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mindblowing!"

    This book is long but worth every word if you love history and want to understand how human actions and decisions will affect our environments for generations to come.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Detritus
    12/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Ambitious story, but not for one book."
    What did you like best about Barkskins? What did you like least?

    This story covers a period of about four hundred years, starting in the 16th century and finishing pretty much in the present day. It starts with two men arriving in North America as indentured workers for the same man. It follows both these men and their many descendents during the following centuries. In a way it is a story of slow and inevitable decline on the one hand and the naked exploitation of what is considered to be the infinite resources of the environment to build a business empire on the other.

    In essence one set of descendents become rich and the other essentially become increasingly impoverished and excluded. There is a strong and compelling ecological narrative throughout the story which rings through to this very day.

    The problem for me is that there are so many characters and so many relations that keeping track of, and staying interested in, two family dynasties is difficult. When introduced to a new member of one of the family dynasties you may be seeing them as young initially and then you may not see them again until there are in their final years. Their lives described in between of apparently little significance or interest. That makes it difficult for a reader to engage with the characters.

    This is a story that could easily have been expanded out to two or three books. The jumping around from character to character and in time make for difficult reading and it also makes it difficult to really care about and be absorbed by the characters. I also felt a little that by the end of the book it was getting more difficult to create distinct characters and their part of the overall story became increasingly like not much more than vignettes of peoples lives.

    There is no doubt about it, this a book with enormous ambition, but unfortunately it's not for me.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kevin C.
    8/06/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A powerful book that makes you uncomfortable"

    The book takes you through a historical journey and describes the political and commercial forces and the brutality and abhorrent ignorance with which a whole continent was raped of its ecological strength and the implications on our planet totally ignored.
    It's a clever book that makes its point in the ebb and flow of describing a family dynasty over four hundred years and describes how Native American Indian culture was overwhelmed by white determination and greed.
    It makes a point about where the global effect of stripping and changing the forests will impact on changing the earth irrevocably.
    The words reverberate in me and unsettle me.
    Not a history that we can have an ounce of pride in.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • MKL
    14/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Lacks passion"

    Long and lacklustre. Annoying narrator who repeatedly mis-pronounces common words (pasty, plaited, etc.) and read sections as if he either didn't understand them or had just lost interest. Clearly this novel contains topics about which we are meant to take up arms on the side of right. Sadly, I got to the point where I just didn't care anymore.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rose
    12/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The story of trees"

    This book is as much the story of trees as told through the generations of two French families settling in canada. it follows the history of the settlements and the obliteration of pine forests and oak as well and of course all the Indian trbes whose lands they stole along the way. However that said it has its faults. For one thing the various wars going on throughout Canada and america during the history of this book are barely touched on though they do come in to it vaguely. Also there is an awful lot of needless info dumping. it's a historical novel so there's not much plot. The dialogue is okay but too many 'saids' for my taste as usual and there's a huge amount of atmosphere and tragedy. It's not a bad book but then again it's not perfect. I'd say though if you want to learn something of the history of early canadian settlers you could do worse than read this though it is very long.

    Now for the narator. Not bad actually. He has to deal with a variety of different languages and accents and he's competent in this if not perfect. I must say when it comes to the French, Scots, English and German accents I've certainly heard worse. So overall I could never give this book five stars but it's tolerably good and the naration could be a lot worse than it is. So go ahead and give this one a go if you have the time and want to learn something of how they did things in centuries past. It says a lot about the way dollars take the place of common sense and how many lessons that could have been learned have not been.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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