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  • The Book of Polly

  • A Novel
  • By: Kathy Hepinstall
  • Narrated by: Jenna Lamia
  • Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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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

"Delightful...funny and poignant." (People)

"A mother/daughter comedy steeped in quirky characters, personal history mysteries, and no small amount of love, The Book of Polly is a delightful read about one of the world's most fundamental relationships." (Refinery29)

"Hepinstall’s Southern coming-of-age novel...[is] full of laughter and warmth and sadness. This is a warm and fresh tale." (Publishers Weekly)   

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What listeners say about The Book of Polly

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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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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.

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  • Mary Smiroldo
  • 09-05-17

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.

70 people found this helpful

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  • NMwritergal
  • 25-03-17

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.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Summer Layne
  • 13-05-17

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.

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  • Joy Custer
  • 23-03-17

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 people found this helpful

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  • Patrysha
  • 13-05-17

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.

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  • Dot
  • 26-06-19

Rated X for language!

I rate this book X for language! The story line would have probably been good, but for the "EXCESSIVE" use of curse words! Way too many, way too often. I quit listening long before the story ended. I would not recommend this book to anyone!

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  • Rebecca J. Leamon
  • 12-01-18

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.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Rebecca S.
  • 14-04-17

Perfectly perfect!

A sweet, funny, genteel story of two strong southern women. The Book of Polly got the formula just right; one part eccentric characters, one part deep-dark secret and one part family devotion added up to the kind of fiction that makes readers continue to read. I will miss the characters with all my heart.

The narrator could not have done a better job understanding the nuances of southern twangs and drawls without mocking or overdoing either. Bless her heart.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Clo
  • 22-04-17

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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Lauren Smith
  • 08-04-17

Great plot and characters with perfect narration

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

6 people found this helpful