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History of the Rain cover art

History of the Rain

By: Niall Williams
Narrated by: Jennifer McGrath
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Summary

We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling. In Faha, County Clare, everyone is a long story....

Bedbound in her attic room beneath the falling rain, Plain Ruth Swain is in search of her father. To find him Ruthie must first trace the jutting jaw lines, narrow faces, and gleamy skin of the Swains from the restless Reverend Swain, her great-grandfather, to her father, Virgil - via pole-vaulting, leaping salmon, poetry and the 3,958 books piled high beneath the two skylights in her room.

©2014 Niall Williams (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"Extremely moving, poignantly capturing Ruth's doomed childhood relationship with her twin brother. By the final chapter I was weeping." ( Sunday Times)
"A rambling, soft-hearted Irish family saga stuffed with eccentricity, literature, anecdotes, mythology, humour and heartbreak." ( Kirkus)

What listeners say about History of the Rain

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

Endless River

Ruth Swain tells her family's story from her sickbed. The story is set in the recent past, Ruth's age is not clear, somewhere around late teens; she lives beside the River Shannon in Faha, County Clare and she is probably going to die.

Her account meanders through the generations of Swains, village life, her father's book collection, salmon fishing, and the endless rain. The writing is poetic and Ruth remains upbeat, but events are mostly depressing and the narrative goes on.........and on............and on. If I had been reading this in book form I may well have given up half way through, unlike Ruth's faithful prospective boyfriend, but in the audio version Jennifer McGrath has a nice Irish accent and so the book flowed over me.

A very beautiful book but not an action thriller, bodice ripper, nor beach read.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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As Irish as you can get...

The epitome of an Irish blather: a self-described meandering tale that hides its profundity behind wave after wave of eccentric Irish country folk and their hilarious sayings and doings. The suble textual variations are many but very defly done. Laugh-out loud farcical at times, tear-wellingly cutting at others Williams promotes the joy of reading and the gift of endurance through a cunningly crafted narrative that gives and gives.

Jennifer McGrath's narration is a beautiful bath of bliss (to paraphrase Chaucer) - a voice that sounds like a non-stop smile. An excellent job.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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History of the Rain

Where does History of the Rain rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I enjoyed this book very much. It went at a good pace, was well read, and the story was engaging.

What did you like best about this story?

The laconic humour which balanced what could have been written as a very sad humour, and yet there was love and light in it all the way through.

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

No, haven't heard any other.

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4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Huge achievement, perfect prose for audio

What did you like most about History of the Rain?

The sheer scale of the achievement in conjuring the environment and characters from the books in the library surrounding Ruth.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Ruth, who was a complex and well-developed character, sensitive and indulgent, but hard as nails in many respects.

What does Jennifer McGrath bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

She seems to have a core understanding of Ruth's attitudes, and brings out the strength of her character very well. A lot of the lyrical prose is delivered in a matter-of-fact way, rather than with too much deference, which I think really helps the story along.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No; it was a joy to bask in the qualities of the prose over an extended period.

Any additional comments?

A really rewarding listen, but it's interesting that there isn't a great deal of drive to the present-day plot, which makes the whole experience somewhat diffuse and meandering. That, however, might be seen as a positive. Occasionally the narrator's differentiation between characters was a little absent, and I do wonder whether the potentially terminally ill Ruth was a bit energetic, but this was an epic task to take on, and may have dragged horribly if there'd been a more weary approach.

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5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant

Gripping story, bittersweet.
Enjoyed the narrators voice and pace.
I will most likely listen to it again as there is so much in it.

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1 person found this helpful

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

beautifully written

If you could sum up History of the Rain in three words, what would they be?

Poetic, evocative, dreamy

What did you like best about this story?

the narrator was excellent and a perfect match for this story

Which scene did you most enjoy?

descriptions of the village and the people

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No - it is a book you want to think about and reflect back on

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • jb
  • 10-12-22

engaging listen

good choice of narrator bringing story to life, had a visual image of the place

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

Speaks to my soul

A book about family, love, loss, grief, literature and Ireland. I can't recommend it too highly. Wonderful

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A book to keep going with, the imagery of individuals was beautiful

Wonderful soothing voice and I became absorbed into the world and characters. Excellent descriptions of local people everyone can relate to.
Emotive and beautiful.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Meh

I found this really dull. There were a few bits that were ok but it just didn’t do it for me at all. It felt like a long slog getting through it.

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