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The Book of Polly

A Novel
Narrated by: Jenna Lamia
Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

Non-member price: $41.01

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Publisher's Summary

With a kick like the best hot sauce, this is the laugh-out-loud story of a girl determined to keep up with her aging, crazy-as-a-fox mother.

Willow Havens is 10 years old and obsessed with the fear that her mother will die. Her mother, Polly, is a cantankerous, take-no-prisoners Southern woman who lives to chase varmints, drink margaritas, and antagonize the neighbors - and she sticks out like a sore thumb among the young, modern mothers of their small conventional Texas town. She was in her late 50s when Willow was born, so Willow knows she's here by accident, a late-life afterthought. Willow's father died before she was born, her much older brother and sister are long grown and gone and failing elsewhere. It's just her and bigger-than-life Polly.

Willow is desperately hungry for clues to the family life that preceded her, and especially Polly's life pre-Willow. Why did she leave her hometown of Bethel, Louisiana, 50 years ago and vow never to return? Who is Garland Jones, her long-ago suitor who possibly killed a man? And will Polly be able to outrun the Bear, the illness that finally puts her on a collision course with her past?

The Book of Polly has a great blend of humor and sadness, pathos and hilarity. This is a bittersweet novel about the grip of love in a truly quirky family, and you'll come to know one of the most unforgettable mother-daughter duos you've ever met.

©2017 Kathy Hepinstall (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"If you ever pined for a mother who would take a hunting falcon as her wingman to a parent-teacher conference, Polly is the gal for you. Delicious." (Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama)
"Narrator Jenna Lamia is just terrific as the outspoken Willow. She completely immerses herself in the child's perception and descriptions of Polly's life. When Polly takes over, Lamia is utterly convincing, showing her to be irreverent, outspoken, and cantankerous, with a take-no-prisoners attitude and a fondness for margaritas.... This story could have been sickeningly sweet, but Kathy Hepinstall's writing is crisp and never sentimental, and Lamia's character portraits are honest and engaging. Wonderful listening." ( AudioFile)

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Profile Image for Mary Smiroldo
  • Mary Smiroldo
  • 09-05-2017

The incredible Jenna Lamia!

I always choose my next audio book based on the narrators. Maybe that's not always the best thing to do, but, for me, if the narrator is bad, the book goes back! We all have our favorites, and Jenna Lamia is one of mine. She brings the story to life with the southern elegance of a summer night in Georgia.
This was my first book by Kathy Hepinstall, but will not be my last. The story kept my attention throughout, and never became boring. Each character had their distinct personality, which the reader comes to know and understand over time.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves the comfort of a southern drawl, and a warm and funny summer read.

51 of 51 people found this review helpful

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  • NMwritergal
  • 25-03-2017

Great writing, characters, story, & audio narrator

It took me about 2 hours to get into the story itself because until then it felt like a very well-written character study, but I kept listening because it was enough to keep me engaged. Once events started to happen, I was absorbed in it. Yes, one must suspend disbelief, but the writing is so strong—whenever I run into non-cliché, beautiful and interesting similes, metaphors, figurative language, etc., I’m happy—the characters so quirky, that it was a wonderful listen. I can always count on Lamia to deliver as the audio narrator.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Summer Layne
  • 13-05-2017

Outstanding In Every Way

Hepinstall has written a coming of age story that is so much more than simply a girl's coming of age - and she has woven various themes through the novel with a light, sure touch. Clearly, Hepinstall took great care in crafting her story. Every sentence, every scene, is there for a reason.

Jenna Lamia was perfection. Her voice was spot on as the young narrator Willow. The voices and accents she lent to the other characters were authentic and believable. One of the best things, for me, was that she didn't drop her voice and growl for the men, for which I was extremely grateful. No misguided attempts at masculinity distracted from the meaning of the author's words.

Other reviewers have described the plot in depth; I simply want to add that his novel is one of the best - if not *the* best - of its genre that I've read in a very long while.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Joy Custer
  • 23-03-2017

LOVE this book

This book is magical to listen to. One of my favorite narrators gives life to an amazing story. You won't be disappointed.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Patrysha
  • 13-05-2017

Delightful

I enjoyed this book immensely! Do yourself a favor and listen. It's like fireflies in wisteria! Like a popsicle on the porch in June. As good as CeeCee Honeycutt was. Full five stars.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebecca J. Leamon
  • 12-01-2018

A New Favorite with a fantastic reader

I thought The Book of Polly would be a "lite read," a pleasant story of a quirky woman--I was completely unprepared for the beautifully written, funny, thoughtful meditation on family, death, life, and love that I encountered! It's an audio book I am considering buying in hard copy, just so I can reread and treasure some of Hepinstall's comments. OUTSTANDING--moving and powerful but also laugh-out-loud funny.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • VickyJ
  • 24-05-2017

I give this book 10 stars!!

This book is amazing! The characters pull you right into the story. There is some swearing, which I'm not normally fond of. However, Polly wouldn't have been Polly without it. The narrator, Jenna Lamia, was fabulous, just fabulous. I have never heard a better southern accent! The story had some unexpected twists and turns, and Polly had you laughing out loud. If there is anyone out there that listens to this book and doesn't love it, something is wrong somewhere. I will definitely listen to more by this author and narrator. Thank you for such a good listen!

Vicky J

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Clo
  • 22-04-2017

Lovely

One of the best books I've listened to in a while. Laughed out loud in parts... totally stressed out in others. Loved it.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • lois
  • 12-04-2017

Utterly delightful!!

One of the best I've ever listened to. I love listening to Jenna Lamia. What a charming story!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Lauren Smith
  • 08-04-2017

Great plot and characters with perfect narration

Well worth the credits. Highly recommended.
At times funny and touching with a hint of mystery.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Alicia Howdle
  • 15-11-2017

Captivating

Beautifully detailed and complex characters with an intriguing story that constantly surprises and moves with equal measure. Moments that make you laugh out loud and well up with emotion are brought to life by Lamia's brilliant reading.

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  • carol
  • 16-07-2017

Enjoyable listen.

I loved this book, it's a beautiful story with lots of humour. I enjoyed it very much and was always looking forward to listening.