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Publisher's Summary

In a world of perennial fire and growing extinctions, Anna’s aged mother is dying - if her three children would just allow it. Condemned by their pity to living she increasingly escapes through her hospital window into visions of horror and delight.  

When Anna’s finger vanishes and a few months later her knee disappears, Anna too feels the pull of the window.  

She begins to see that all around her others are similarly vanishing, but no one else notices. All Anna can do is keep her mother alive. But the window keeps opening wider, taking Anna and the listener ever deeper into a strangely beautiful story about hope and love and orange-bellied parrots.

©2020 Richard Flanagan (P)2020 Penguin Random House Australia

What listeners say about The Living Sea of Waking Dreams

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Wow, just fantastic

Incredible story, fantastically written. Such amazing depth of description and beautifully read by the wonderful Essie Davis. I throughly enjoyed listening.

7 people found this helpful

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The Living Sea of Waking Dreams

A challenging, deeply confronting but endlessly astonishing book. Extraordinarily visual, beautiful writing. A book about death - and life. Moving and disturbingly thought-provoking. Also very beautifully narrated. Thank you, Essie.

4 people found this helpful

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The novel of our times

Mortality is bad enough but what comes after mortality?

The living sea of waking dreams is a riddle of sorts.

A novel beautifully layered like sedimentary rock cut open like cake and sprinkled with the careless graffiti of anthropocentric footprints. The ribbons of stories create vertigo and the sense of falling (and disappearing) creates a raw stability and clarity to the anxiety inducing clamour of white noise that shatters our ability as humans to stop, think and reflect. Rather we fly, sink and dip like a kite without a string carried in eddies and zephyrs to nowhere.

An apocalyptic novel with hope. Set in Australia. About families and love and our dwindling connection to the natural worls behind our screens (like me now).
A disturbing question is what if our demise as a species is natural and we are happy to see it happen that way? The only way to save ourselves is by dying and being reborn. I wonder if Flanagan is a Buddhist at heart.

Be prepared to be angry, smiling, smug, guilty and reminded that great books are those that tell us that we are not alone in how we think or feel. A great writer has the ability to communicate and see what we can only do in fragments of dreams or broken musings. Words are inadequate. The sea is alive in us as the most primal connection we have to the earth, life and each other. Perhaps we need to go backwards to go forwards. Or be still to feel anything at all.

The inside cover of the book with its closeup of luminous green parrot feathers is beautiful enough to captivate one for a few moments at least. But the novel will do and linger long after the book has closed like the lid of a small bird-sized coffin.

2 people found this helpful

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Narrator lets the story down

I found the voice of the narrator very abrasive and it detracted from my appreciation of the writing.

1 person found this helpful

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Simply Outstanding

Australian to the core, storytelling at it's best, narrated with absolute mastery. Thank you for this sad but brilliant gift.

1 person found this helpful

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Strange but beautifully written

Intense, moving, depressing and uplifting, fantastic language and fantastical as well as very relatable and real.

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Boring story overacted in narration

Either this narrator is a frustrated children’s television presenter, or the writing was so dull the poor narrator felt compelled to liven it up by shouting, whispering, laughing out the words where the text simply had “she said”.
It’s the kind of book I loathe: a famous author writing about a heavy/dark subject matter, which is expected to be enough to blind us to the dull rambling story, and hollow uninteresting characters. It doesn’t.

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Brutal and angry

I found this not so subtle allegory of disappearing nature and people having body parts too overstated, and the characters extremely stereotyped.
This was a very angry book, but the dying mothers plight was rendered reverently .. like a dying Mother Earth .
I continued listening because I wanted to hear Richard Flanagan’s outpouring of grief and frustration

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narrator too much

terrible narrator.. sorry. too much interpretation and unable to listen to this one.. read it instead

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Profile Image for Jenny
  • Jenny
  • 22-01-2021

A Most Remarkable Experience

I knew I would be enthralled by this latest of Richard Flanagan's books. I think it is a treasure in the lexicon of great Australian literature. The story has a deep poignancy, insight and has the unique style and completeness that marks it as another Flanagan master work. It is a story in and for Australia, however it questions some of the issues that each person on this planet would be well advised to consider, issues that confront our very humanity.
What I did not expect was the remarkable skill of Essie Davis, the narrator. The sensitivity and clarity that she brings to the already exquisite prose makes is an extra gift to the listener.
I suggest to prospective purchasers - listen to this book slowly and fully. Contemplate what you are receiving from what you hear. Be grateful that you have heard it.

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  • Kassandra Bossell
  • 10-12-2020

Appalling!

She just wouldn't die!!!!!
Intruiging disappearances, but what a diatribe!
Bad audio.
Monotones, moroseness and unrelenting vocals makes it hard to listen to.

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