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Publisher's Summary

England, 1930s: Christopher Banks has become the country's most celebrated detective, his cases the talk of London society. Yet one unsolved crime has always haunted him: the mysterious disappearance of his parents, in old Shanghai, when he was a small boy. 

Moving between London and Shanghai of the interwar years, When We Were Orphans is a remarkable story of memory, intrigue and the need to return.

©2000 Kazuo Ishiguro (P)2014 Faber Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

worth a listen.

not as great as NeverLetMeGo but still i engrossing. Really captured childhood naivety
Why doesn't NLMG available on audible? I had to sign up for another service to listen to it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Well written but story that goes nowhere

Beautiful literary style, but story is bewildering with no meaningful resolution questions left unanswered, so frustrating! Also audiobook is consistently interupted by old fashioned "end side one" notes that must be leftovers from the CD release??

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  • perspective
  • 21-03-2015

Nostalgic and alluring!

If you could sum up When We Were Orphans in three words, what would they be?

Nostalgic, journey, contentment.

What did you like best about this story?

The depth in the Narrator. The narrative, shows that he is merely, human. confused, most and sometimes wrong.

What does Michael Maloney bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His use of accents and dialects develops the other characters but mostly his voice as Christopher shows a vulnerability and arrogance, which helps in developing his character.

If you could take any character from When We Were Orphans out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Jenny, the other orphan, who plays a minor yet vital role.

Any additional comments?

This book is a must read or listen. It is exquisitely written. Kazou Ishiguro is becoming one of my favourite authors.

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  • Aliza Bat-Ami
  • 25-06-2016

Beautifully crafted and gripping.

Once again Kazuo Ishiguro unfolds the complex story - a sort of verbal origami. Michael Maloney gives a fittingly nuanced reading. The sort of book that I listen to in one go. Very highly recommended.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Marie
  • 10-12-2015

Loved it

May not be everyone's cup of tea but I found the psychological characterisation fascinating. Good internal dialogue as opposed to superfluous unnecessary description of periphery characters, places or things, found in so many of today's writers. . Excellent narration. I'm sad to leave the atmosphere created in this novel.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Timbob01
  • 02-05-2017

An interesting detailed well written read

I nearly gave up as the initial detail in the first few chapters were quite heavy going. However (similar to Dickens novels) the detail came together and the book then became exciting excellent listening.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Busy of Devon
  • 03-03-2016

Hypnotic and alluring

What made the experience of listening to When We Were Orphans the most enjoyable?

The writing and narration are both excellent and give the characters reality. The narration of Uncle Phillip is particularly good and rather chilling - Puffin! It's an evocative story which builds slowly and builds in pace. I enjoyed it immensely and struggled to hold back the tears towards the climax.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Christopher for his genuine innocence. It is possible to see why he is as he is in adulthood from his childhood. His background makes him believable as an adult.Christopher's mother is also a haunting character. What I like about the characters in this book is how well they convey the era and surroundings in which they are set. Ishiguro doesn't need many descriptive passages because his characters paint the scenery for him. It's very well written and very much my type of book and story. The slow speed with which it unravels and gradually gains momentum is both fluid and hypnotic. I enjoyed it immensely and found myself wishing it were much longer as I neared the end.

What aspect of Michael Maloney’s performance might you have changed?

Nothing. He is excellent in all respects and gives just the right levels of depth and intonation.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Caroline Harris
  • 28-07-2015

Outstanding in every way.

One of the best books I have ever listened to. So many layers. Moved me to tears.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jen
  • 23-03-2015

Ishiguro awesome as ever :)

Great narrator, beautifully poignant story. It will stay with me for a long time!
Ishiguro always captures the essence of 'Britishness' in his stories so effortlessly.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Paul D
  • 13-08-2016

But of a yawn of a book

Rather a struggle to finish and had it not been by such a renowned author I suspect I would have give up on it.
My main problem was the inability to empathize with any of the characters. Indeed the main character was not only difficult to like but was also exasperating coming across as having an 84 IQ .
Nope, not for me. Good writing does not always mean a good book

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kevin
  • 28-06-2017

Really good book but ...

Any additional comments?

I am still listening to this, and really enjoying it, but 'end of Side 1, 2, 3 ...'?? Come on Audible, get it sorted.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • morril
  • 11-05-2017

Lost its way

Would you try another book written by Kazuo Ishiguro or narrated by Michael Maloney?

Yes I would listen to another probably Remains of the Day. I thought this book started well and was intriguing then it seemed to lose its way and get rather silly at times

What will your next listen be?

I haven't decided yet

Have you listened to any of Michael Maloney’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Possibly

Any additional comments?

I found this book rather disappointing

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • C. Whitson
  • 16-03-2018

Frustratingly human.

I found this book to be all consuming and often listened much longer than I had originally intended. Beautifully narrated, with a real sense of the entitled English upper classes. Telling the story of Christoper Banks a young boy who has grown up in the International Settlement of Shanghai between the two world wars. The mystery surrounding his parents disappearance when he is nine, spurs him into becoming a well renowned detective as an adult, ultimately returning to Shanghai as an adult, and attempting to solve the case. Christopher is a strange man, who seems at odds with the real world. He never seems to grasp the truth of the situations he finds himself in until too late. I found this frustrating and endearing at. the same time. It made him beautifully human in his shortcomings and reluctance to face facts. Only at the very end, once all the pieces have fallen into place, do you finally get a sense of reality in his life. Finally facing up to decisions made and their consequences for all concerned. The story glosses over many details, almost assuming the reader will know what has gone before, or understand an unexplained relationship. Whilst Christopher’s shortcomings can be frustrating, he remains constant in his behaviour and attitudes. Well worth a listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful