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The Offing

Narrated by: Ralph Ineson
Length: 5 hrs and 33 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents The Offing by Benjamin Myers, read by Ralph Ineson.  

A BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick

A BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime

An Observer Pick for 2019  

One summer following the Second World War, Robert Appleyard sets out on foot from his Durham village. Sixteen and the son of a coal miner, he makes his way across the northern countryside until he reaches the former smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay. There he meets Dulcie, an eccentric, worldly, older woman who lives in a ramshackle cottage facing out to sea.  

Staying with Dulcie, Robert’s life opens into one of rich food, sea swimming, sunburn and poetry. The two come from different worlds, yet as the summer months pass, they form an unlikely friendship that will profoundly alter their futures.

©2019 Benjamin Myers (P)2019 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"It’s a poignant story, and Myers’ descriptions of the countryside are wonderful." (Mail on Sunday)  

"What a radical thing, these days, to have written a book so full of warmth and kindness...Gorgeous." (Max Porter, author of Lanny)

"This is a poetic book with a winning generosity of spirit, moving from a folksy celebration of the rural north to a revelation of the broader horizons that can come from reading and some serious culture." (Sunday Times)

What listeners say about The Offing

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Immersed in storytelling

Prepare to be transported in time, in possibility, in adventure and in life. I loved this story and would recommend it to cozy up with.

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  • jacqui
  • 01-09-2020

Loved This Book - Sad when it ended

When I first began to listen, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this book. However, I soon discovered that I Loved it...and devoured it in two or three sessions. We hear Robert going from an unsure and anxious 16 year old to a mature and then much older man. Everyone needs a 'D....' in their life ... irreverant. funny and abundant in her generosity. I really did not want this book to end. The narrator is excellent too. A good use of 1 credit.

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  • WhatCathyReadNext
  • 01-07-2020

Lyrical, intimate story of an unlikely friendship

The Offing is quite different in style from the author’s Walter Scott Prize-winning The Gallows Pole which I read the year it was shortlisted. It is much gentler in tone but still quietly powerful. For anyone who’s wondering about the title, the offing is the name for the distant stretch of sea where sky and water merge. The Offing involves a chance encounter between young Robert Appleyard, who has set off to explore the country beyond his home in a small mining village near Durham, and Dulcie, an older woman living in a cottage on the outskirts of Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire. It leads to a friendship that also becomes an education for Robert. Dulcie introduces him to unfamiliar foods such as lobster, to wine and to her favourite nettle tea. But she also feeds his mind, lending him books of poetry by John Clare and novels by D H Lawrence and others. For Robert, what starts as a temporary stay turns into a summer in which his mind and his horizons are widened by Dulcie’s unique take on the world. In return for her hospitality he works on clearing the meadow threatening to overwhelm her cottage and on restoring a nearby shack fallen into disuse. What he finds there unlocks memories of the past for Dulcie as well as setting Robert on a new path in life, one he never thought would be open to someone with a background like his. I loved the descriptions of the natural world and the glorious meals Dulcie prepares for Robert. More than anything, I loved Dulcie – for her generosity, wit, independent spirit, wisdom and determination to live life by her own rules. As she says, “After all, there are only a few things truly worth fighting for: freedom, of course, and all that it brings with it. Poetry, perhaps, and a good glass of wine. A nice meal. Nature. Love, if you’re lucky.” Dulcie sees the potential in Robert that he can’t see himself and is intent on nurturing it as she once nurtured the talent of someone else. I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Ralph Ineson. His deep, husky voice and northern accent were a good match for the slow unwinding of the story and its rich descriptive passages. As well as being a compelling story of an unlikely friendship, The Offing is a love letter to the natural world, to poetry and to living life to the full. Highly recommended.

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  • Kate Shepherd
  • 17-01-2020

Amazing. Loved every moment of this book.

Onto the next Ben Myers book. Got them all stacked up ready. He's absolutely brilliant.

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  • Ben The Cat
  • 05-10-2020

Overall an enjoyable sorry

I did enjoy the story. I first heard it serialised in an abridged version on radio, read by Kevin Whatley. Ralph ineson did just as good a job as the narrator.. brilliant voice. I did find some aspects of the writing jarred a bit.. the author is fond of a bit of purple prose! despite the narration being given by the adult, educated character, I felt it would have been more authentic if the language used reflected his younger, uneducated self at three time the story unfolds.

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  • A. Peacock
  • 09-09-2020

beautiful tale set in one of my favourite places

couldn't stop listening. really enjoyed the story and the atmosphere the beautifully crafted words created.

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  • Nippy
  • 27-07-2020

exceptional descriptions

Loved every bautiful word of this intricate narration of rural English countryside, nature and seascape. compelling tale of relationship between a very capable but unread 16 year old and his relationship witj a highly intelligent articulate learned oldet woman and her eventual influence on his life...I loved every sentence.

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  • sue
  • 08-06-2020

Description fiction

I loved this book. Full of wonderful descriptions of the countryside, quirky characters that I truly liked. The authors observations of dog behaviour is spot on Enjoyed every word. The narrators rich deep voice was perfect. I will be looking for more by this author.

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  • Jane Anne Bennett
  • 24-05-2020

Excellent book on many levels

This was one of the most edifying books I have read. I enjoyed every part of it and felt in tune with both of the two characters .The relationship between Robert and Dulcie was very carefully outlined and developed into one of trust,respect and love. They both benefited from knowing one another. It could be described as a coming of age story but seemed more than this. The fine detail of the natural world going on around the characters was a delight and I never tired of it. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in special relationships and personal development or simply different forms of love. I will return to this book again and feel it has something very special.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-04-2020

A beautiful read

I loved every single moment of this book. The narration and story line is excellent given how short it is. Will definitely read more of Benjamin Myers and the voice of Ralph Ineson.

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  • fieldfare
  • 15-04-2020

Perfection

This book is a careful and loving portrayal of a time and a place and of two unforgettable characters. The narration is exactly right and adds much to the experience of the story. The detailed descriptions of the English countryside in spring and summer are utterly lovely. This has just become one of my favourite ever novels.