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Publisher's Summary

Audible narration by Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars).
What’s a woman to do when she fails to live up to feminine ideals? It depends on what she’s willing to give up in this darkly comic short story by Caroline Kepnes, the bestselling author of You.

Shelby is struggling with parenthood, marriage, a passive-aggressive mother, and unemployment. But she also has a sweet escape in her beloved Hallmark movies. When a secret admirer promises to sweep her away into a world of those same romantic tropes, the temptation is so heady, Shelby can already smell the pumpkin spice. But this rom-com dream has a whiff of conspiracy....

Caroline Kepnes’s Sweet Virginia is part of Out of Line, an incisive collection of funny, enraging, and hopeful stories of women’s empowerment and escape. Each piece can be listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

©2020 Caroline Kepnes (P)2020 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Sweet Virginia

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Kristen Bell is amazing!

Hahaha what a funny wee story!
None of the characters were particularly likeable I found, maybe they were meant to be written like that, but I really enjoyed the take on Hallmark movies.
Fun twist at the end, and fun to a story in one sitting.

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  • jen4choice
  • 02-01-2021

What the ????

Just when you think you know where the story was going - even it it was a bit cliche - it takes 2 hard rights, a sharp left, and then some donuts in the parking lot for good measure. I finished, saying “WTF?????? Did the author mean to end it like this?!”

2 people found this helpful

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  • Elisabeth Carey
  • 10-11-2020

A somewhat muddled dystopian tale

Shelby works at the magazine Modern Love, is married, and has a new baby.

But none of her story ideas are getting accepted at the magazine. One day, she comes home from grocery shopping, and forgets to close the door door while getting things to the kitchen, and their dog gets out. He's hit by a truck and killed.

Shelby's misguided pitch of a story about Hallmark movies is the last straw that gets her fired, and the death of the dog convinces her husband and her mother that she can't be trust unsupervised with the baby. Her mother--"Mommy," to both her and her husband, which I found extremely off-putting (seriously, we get no hint that "Mommy" has any other name) moves in, and she and her son-in-law occasionally let Shelby hold the baby for a few minutes.

I can't imagine why she would find this frustrating, or have any difficulty bonding with the baby, can you? 🙄

Shelby watches her beloved Hallmark movies, and pretends to be submitting and selling stories freelance, and starts to get odd text messages, saying there's a way out of this rut, a way to fulfill some of her dreams.

Then she and her mother go to the store, and when she tries to pay, her card is declined, and the bank says the account doesn't even exist.

"Mommy" sounds completely paranoid when she says women are disappearing, and this kind of event often precedes the disappearance. Yet, it's not long before Shelby finds that the text messages were a trap, and she's been whisked away to a town called Heaven's Bottom, to be transformed from a failed woman, a "W2," into a real, proper W1, a woman who knows how to love.

And then Shelby slips very quickly into what sounds to me like Stockholm Syndrome. She's not actually achieving any change in the desired direction, but she is sure they're doing this for her own good.

And it trails off without any real ending that I could discern. Not recommended.

I received this audiobook as part of the Audible Originals program, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kathy Campbell
  • 08-09-2020

Interesting subject but too short

Audio free books are going downhill very fast. This author had an interesting subject but the writing style was confusing and I’m sick of foul language just for the sake of adding it!!!!!

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  • ajh1232
  • 07-09-2020

strange and boring

very complainy main character without substance goes from benign life to captive woman in training

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  • Georgia
  • 30-07-2021

Huh?

About halfway through, it got weird, not a good sci-fi weird, the sort of weird where nothing made sense. The narrative follows a woman bored or apathetic with life, work, and family. The second half is so absurd that I think the main character was involuntarily committed,

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  • ShannonVM
  • 12-04-2021

Ummm...

I keep typing and backspacing, typing and backspacing.
Although I may not be a member of Mensa, I'm fairly intelligent and this story just flew over my head. I love the You series by Caroline Kepnes, I think her mind is brilliantly deranged in the best way, but Sweet Virginia just did not work for me. I think in a way I understood where she was going with the story, but on the other hand, not so much. I kept hoping Shelby would wake up from a dream, like Pam did in Dallas (did I just age myself there), but that did not come to pass and I'm just left wondering what exactly I just listened to. Thankfully I enjoyed Kristen Bell's narration and was able to muddle through to the end.

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  • Linda Anderson
  • 31-12-2020

Not my favorite.

Kind of like a Hallmark movie. Not a satisfactory read. I would not chose another short story by this author.

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  • FrancoFile
  • 05-12-2020

And the point was...?

I waited in vain for the main character - actually, any of the characters - to develop. So many missed opportunities to throw serious shade on the romcomplex.

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  • Friend Zone
  • 27-11-2020

Not Caroline Kepnes best

This story was really odd. It's nothing like her YOU series, of course, and one can't expect it to be... but if you are a CK fan because of those books, you may not be able to wrap your mind around this one. The character is totally unlikeable and it's just a weird premise. Kristen Bell is a great narrator though.

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  • Brian
  • 10-10-2020

Surprised Me

The Out of Line collection has really intrigued me. I love these collections that Audible is doing, especially because they are usually a one-sitting sort of book. This collection isn’t any different. I wanted to include what Audible had to say about the collection since I went into this book pretty blind (honestly picking it first because I love Kristen Bell. Out of Line, an incisive collection of funny, enraging, and hopeful stories of women’s empowerment and escape.

So, knowing that now, this one makes sense. But Sweet Virginia tells the story of a woman who is struggling. Struggling with a lot of different aspect of being a woman. She’s a new mom but doesn’t feel that bond with her baby that everyone told her she would. She loves her husband but doesn’t seem to be sure if she’s in love with him. All of this comes to a point in the story – and I won’t ruin the ending, but it was a surprise.

The first half was sort of a “okay, we know who she is, what is going to happen?” And the second half was dystopian almost wtf-like. I genuinely didn’t see it coming and I’m glad I didn’t Kepnes threw me for a loop and I loved it. Honestly, I believe this could be a Hulu series on par with The Handmaid’s Tale.

1 person found this helpful

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