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Milkman

Written by: Anna Burns
Narrated by: Bríd Brennan
Length: 14 hrs and 11 mins
4 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2018 

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019

In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. 

But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous.

Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

©2018 Anna Burns (P)2018 Faber Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book

This was a great book. Very well narrated. Good book to start with Listening to Audiobook

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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It's beautiful, best ever words to Thoughts

I loved listening to it, i imagine i might not have liked it the same if i had read it. It's funny, dramatic, realistic at the same time.

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Thoroughly Engrossing

Brid Brennan brought to life a novel one of its kind. The reading was as appealing as the narrative style.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicole Del Sesto
  • 27-07-18

Beyond the Pale

What a great start to Booker season!  I loved this book.  I thought the writing clever and the story engrossing.  It's an unnamed time and an unnamed place (actually Northern Ireland during the "troubles") with unnamed characters.  

Through the voice of our narrator ("middle sister" and "maybe girlfriend" and "friend") we explore issues of the time including: politics; feminism; family; individuality, conformity and love.   What it's like to group up in a place where everybody knows you and if you stick out even a little bit, to assume the worst about you.

There's a psychological  element as well, which added a layer of suspense to the whole story which I thought was done extremely well. 

I listened to the audio which only added to my enjoyment.  The narrator was perfect and the parts of the writing which would have been outstanding in the reading of them were really enhanced. 

A top 2018 read for me.   

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • j phillips
  • 30-09-18

4.40 stars......different

Finally, something a bit different. Anna Burns' manages to do something different in an age when everything has already been done. It's nothing drastic, but Milkman really is a good book. I had my doubts at first, but I hung in there due to one of the best performances I've ever heard. Brid Brennan is a goddess when it comes to narration.

As I make my way through the Booker longlist, Milkman is my pick as of now. Sadly, I predict many people will give up on it too soon, as not a lot happens immediately. I also enjoyed The Mars Room and Snap. Warlight is my least favorite of the four contenders I've listened to. While I'm not sure if Milkman is the best written story of this bunch, it's the best audiobook. If there's a better one on the list, I'll be glad to hear it.

Overall rating: 4.40 stars

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Jennifer S. Leblanc
  • 20-08-18

Exquisitely narrated!

The narration is so good on this wild story that it makes it worth reading.
I struggled thru the first half of this book, confused by the circumstances and what seemed like to much character development without enough context development. By the last hour, it all came together beautifully and I loved the story. But I admit that I might not have gotten that far without the brilliant work of the narrator.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-06-19

incredibly hard listen

it was very hard to listen to this book. the unstructured sentences, the writing style, the lack of a smooth flow - pain for my ears and for my brain.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-05-19

Extraordinary

If this were the Oscars, Anna Burns would win for Best Story and Bríd Brennan for Best Performance: Really just extraordinary.

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  • Sarah
  • 08-04-19

brilliant

I loved every minute of this story. brilliant and informative. Intelligent, funny, enlightening and heartbreaking.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-03-19

Bloody amazing!!

Such a great book- listen to it now!! Best book I’ve read in such a long time

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  • Theodore
  • 11-02-19

Incredible Literary Experience!

This is my first Audible review even though I am one of the very early users of Audible and have listened to about 100 titles so far. I am making this exception because the combination of an incredible book with an incredible narrator makes the experience of listening to Milkman truly unique and wonderful. For a person not familiar with the Northern Irish accent, listening to Brid Brennan was like listening to a foreign language, only I was delighted to find that I could understand everything (with some imagination). And what a wonderful sense of humor has Anna Burns!! I keep telling people that Ms. Burns is a shining example of the fact that no matter how depressing the story you are telling, humor goes such a very very long way!! Thank you Ms. Burns, thank you Ms. Brennan, and thank you Audible!! Shalom, Teddy Weinberger

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  • Andre
  • 23-12-18

Supremely entertaining!

This book allowed me to understand the trials and tribulations of being a woman in a conflicted corner of the world in a difficult period. But I am sure that a lot of it holds true for any place and any time. And, we get a peek of the toll of the conflict to daily existence, without sermonizing or without the sheen of ideology. I am happy to have gotten the chance to listen to the book. The reader is amazing.

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  • Justin Z.
  • 11-12-18

Best #Metoo themed yet

This is a convincing and compelling exploration of the many ways in which women (and men) can be subtly trapped in invisible tyrannies. Unlike other more pretentious works (esp recent dystopian #metoo works) Milkman does this in a grounded way without resorting to gimmicks. Anna Burns’ voice is unique and the reading in the vernacular is fantastic.

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  • David M
  • 20-10-18

Very, Very Good

This is about Middle Sister, 18 years old, perhaps slightly geeky and a social misfit trying to cope with the troubles by avoiding them. She doesn't like the 20th Century so absorbs herself in 19th Century literature which she reads while walking in the park. That in itself upsets the community.

Anna Burns' writing gives us insight into what it was like to live amidst the Northern Ireland troubles of the 70s and 80s. The no-go areas, over the road, over the water, our religion, the other religion, punishment, behaviour beyond the pale.

Mostly the characters are only given nick-names; Ma, Pa, Elder Sister, Second Sister, First Brother-in-Law, Tablet Girl, Nuclear Boy etc. This makes it really easy to keep track of who everybody is. I wish more books would do that.

There are some wonderful snippets such as...'the only time anybody would call the police would be to shoot them. They know that and don't come.' While the reader is absorbing such snippets the narrator continues relentlessly,so you have to keep stopping and winding back 30 seconds.

Mostly the story is told by a sometimes complex series of diversions before getting back to where the author left off. The reader is tempted to lose concentration during such diversions, but shouldn't. The diversions are really what the book is all about and contain the finest writing. I love the way the author seems to delve into a thesaurus to find the best word to use and finds she can't choose the best word so we get them all... it really amazes me how the author kept up the fine writing for all 14 hours 11 minutes. There really is no padding.

I particularly liked the narration by Brid Brennan, unlike Ian Paisley, she really makes the N. Ireland accent sound quite beautiful. She seemed to have an appreciation of the work and relished every word that she was reading.

80 of 82 people found this review helpful

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  • janien
  • 06-10-18

Brilliant but terrifying!

The Troubles in N. Ireland back then seemed largely a world away from the Midlands of England growing up. This an account of a teenager’s life on the Catholic side of town is beautifully written yet terrifying how what happened almost felt normal.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker this year and has to be a worthy contender to win.

31 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • Mixed Feelings
  • 19-11-18

Brilliant!

I feel like I've been waiting for this book to come along for years. Beautifully written prose that reflects the fractured and disjointed culture of a society that has been deeply divided by political and religious factions as seen through the eyes of a teenage girl who is trying to make sense of it all as she is innocently and helplessly drawn into the web of local political 'players', gossips and rumor-mongers.
Anna Burns' beautiful language echo's the rhythm and repetition of the Northern Irish colloquialisms and is brought to life by the wonderful narration of Brid Breenan which gives the novel a living dimension.
Beautifully paced, touching, quietly threatening and laugh out loud in places the incidents and accidents of the main characters made this novel an instant classic for me and is firmly placed in my all time top 10. I just didn't want this to end as I know the next novel I listen to has such a lot to live up to.....I may just listen to it again. Did I say this is a beautiful book? It is, just that.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Clare L Hutton
  • 29-09-18

Remarkable and important

This astonishing book, with a unique voice, is a profound reconstruction of what it was like for an under confident 18 year old girl to live through and be formed by the Northern Irish troubles in the 1970s. Essentially this is a story about stalking and psychological terror. It is sad, gripping, funny and compelling. The reading by Bríd Brennan is flawless, with a particularly good rendition of child voices (the wee sisters).

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • William
  • 19-11-18

Just wonderful...

Beautifully written, constructive and narrated (possibly the best I’ve ever heard) Caught magnificently the atmosphere, the tension, the language, the humour, family life, the underwritten dos and the don’ts of the community, resourcefulness of character needed to survive, live and despite the background of hopeless enjoy life in that unnamed city that I also grew up in in the seventies. What a heroine and why aren’t there more third brother in law’s!
Just brilliant, best novel I’ve read in 2018

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Anthony
  • 18-11-18

Growing up with the Troubles

Beautifully written this story offers insights into the relationships within families and the community during Northern Ireland's political struggles. The insights, the humour and the melancholy are all observed close-up, in the day-to-day lives of people trying to live their lives while being drawn into the politics, the suspicion, and the violence of everyday life.

The author barely presents a single name throughout the story - always talking about the milkman, the first sister, third sister, brother-in-law, nearly boyfriend, and a range of others. This conveys the sense that these events and relationships could have occurred, or indeed did occur, in every family, and how disruptive and destructive this was.

It's also a coming of age novel in which the narrator established what her own life and loves are about while trying to fend off the powerful influences and imposed stereotypes of others. The twists and turns reveal some unexpected casualties and events, sensitively shared and narrated.

One of the most distressing scenes I've ever read describes the vicious throat-slitting of all the dogs in a small town by UK government-supported paramilitaries (or perhaps they are UK forces themselves). It brings home, like few passages, the dreadful nature of internal conflict and of the attempts to silence others to gain political advantage. The dogs' crime? To alert the community about the presence of strangers and their foul activities. One can feel the pain, the sorrow, the mournfulness of community members searching through blood-soaked canine cadavers, retrieving their own 'best friend' to cuddle and carry home for burial.

Lots of other by-the-by insights into the undermining of communities resulting from surveillance, false accusations, suspicion, and surreptitious acts of terror. It's easy to see how longstanding the corrosive impact of political violence can be within communities, and invariably is...

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Ruben
  • 24-08-18

Excellent narration and a good book

Third booker read/listen this year and certainly the best so far (Donal Ryan and Michael Ondaatje were a little disappointing). It is about an 18-year old girl and how she tries not to care about what the people in her paranoid and gossip-sick neighbourhood in Northern-Ireland during the troubles think about her. And then how her trying not to care makes things only get worse.

There is a section around half-way where things move a little slow and at some point I was even tempted to give it up, but I am very glad I continued as the end is the best. The beautiful voice of the narrator certainly helped in persevering!

29 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • John Blair
  • 11-08-18

Hugely Enjoyable

Firstly, Brid Brennan delivers an outstanding narration of Anna Burns work. You can hear her own love for the work she's narrating in every sentence spoken.

The work itself is stunning. Yes, it's set in the time of The Troubles and it's depiction of that place is detailed. But it's the way Anna Burns writes about people, their 'psychologicals', their complex, contradictory simple behaviour that makes this so compelling. Special mention to the 4 hour passage that takes us from a classroom to outside the family home in a stream of divergencies. You wonder at Burns skill holding the narrative together but she does. This is one of those rare books that you keep within you. I loved it. "Yes but"...

43 of 48 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-10-18

best journey into the young female psyche ever

memorable Joycean brutal beauty with
blow your mind honesty and exploratory prose- engaging from first sentence



6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • JST
  • 07-02-19

Outstanding narration

I absolutely loved this book, which I think is mostly down to Brid Brennan's totally believable delivery of every word.
She made listening to this book an absolute pleasure.
That's not to make light of the excellent story, Anna Burns descriptions of Ireland in the 70's, living in 'The Troubles' and the stifling power of Men, Religion and social expectations, at that time, was amusing and disturbing. Written with humour, it still gets the point across, that if you dare to be different, you can expect to pay for it and if people don't know something, then they will make it up.

I'm off to see if there are any more of Anna Burn's books on here.....

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr. Sue Tait
  • 12-09-18

magic

I love the way these words are put together. I want to listen again now. I miss these people. The narrator is amazing.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-07-18

Unique

Such a unique ,humorous, well written book. Anna Burns has build on her previous novels' subject of The Troubles to create this masterpiece. Brid Brennan's Irish lilt and delivery suits the book's pace and narrator.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • sally
  • 08-11-18

Too much waffle for me

Firstly the narrator was excellent. I enjoyed listening to her voice but not enough to finish the book.
For me there was waaaaay too much waffle. Story seemed to go around in circles, it was repetitive (just with slightly different words). I found myself losing interest, thinking "just get to the point already".
The book starts talking about one thing and then deviates off and dribbles on... and on.... before getting back to the original topic. I abandoned the book after about 2 hours.
Someone with a lot of patience that is in for the long haul will enjoy it.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-10-18

Thought provoking & timely

Very quirky, unusual style which creates a compelling story and unique perspective of The Troubles in late 1970’s Northern Ireland. It underscores aspects of toxic violence, particularly male violence which share common threads with all conflict zones, from Ireland to Afghanistan, Iraq and the burgeoning far-right gangs such as the Proud Boys in contemporary US culture. Really interesting, particularly as it’s written in the voice of a young woman wishing to simply avoid the violence and go about her teenaged life freely without threat and harassment.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Paula Clayton-Beatts
  • 25-11-18

Sorry - I had to return this book

I tried for quite some time to listen to this book and while the history included was interesting I could not tolerate the writing style. I had to return this book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachael
  • 05-11-18

my new favourite

If people think this book is a hard read then they should listen to it. The combination of writer and reader is superb. Together they lay bare both familiar and surprising quirks of family, religion, sexual politics. This book is a tribute to women and girls set in and spoken in the beautiful Irish. Outstanding.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Lynlee
  • 22-11-18

Just couldn’t get into it

Just couldn’t get into it. Might be better to read from paper but the accent of narrator, added with the long winded descriptions replacing character names a lot of the time, just made it hard to engage with over audio.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • M Kelly
  • 18-11-18

Great narrator

The narration makes this wonderful story even better. It is a perfect match. Gorgeous lyrical writing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Michelle
  • 18-11-18

Speechless

OMG, I loved it, blew my mind, couldn’t put it down! Highly recommended this story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Pamela Taverniti
  • 17-07-19

Quite strange!

A very different style. It took me about one hour to get used to the narrator and then I was hooked! It is a strange mesmerising listen, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.