The Long Embrace

  • by Judith Freeman
  • Narrated by Suzanne Toren
  • 12 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Raymond Chandler was one of the most original and enduring crime novelists of the 20th century. Yet much of his pre-writing life, including his unconventional marriage, has remained shrouded in mystery. In this compelling, wholly original book, Judith Freeman sets out to solve the puzzle of who Chandler was and how he became the writer who would create in Philip Marlowe, an icon of American culture.Freeman uncovers vestiges of the Los Angeles that was terrain and inspiration for Chandler's imagination, including the nearly two dozen apartments and houses the Chandlers moved into and out of over the course of two decades. She also uncovers the life of Cissy Pascal, the older, twice-divorced woman Chandler married in 1924, who would play an essential role in how he came to understand not only his female characters - and Marlowe's relation to them - but himself as well.A revelation of a marriage that was a wellspring of need, illusion, and creativity, The Long Embrace provides us with a more complete picture of Raymond Chandler's life and art than any we have had before.

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What the Critics Say

"The Long Embrace may be the essential book on Raymond Chandler. Like his books, it offers a rational solution to a puzzle while at the same time retaining a sense of mystery." (The Chicago Tribune)
"A beautiful and original book....Freeman writes about L.A. with a tender precision and yearning that borders on the religious....Freeman's identification with her subject is so complete we feel we're there with Chandler too." (The Los Angeles Times)
"A compelling picture of present-day Los Angeles and a compelling dual portrait of Chandler and his wife....Ms. Freeman knows the territory as well as Marlowe himself....she feels the language and captures the mood. Like Cissy, when she crooks her finger, it's impossible not to follow." (The New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Beautifully written, beautifully read

I was unsure whether to buy and listen to this book because of the low star rating and what I considered might be ambiguous review extracts. However, I am glad that I bought it, although it will not be to everyone's taste.

Freeman seems to have become obsessed by Chandler as an author and of his marriage to an older woman. She wanted to write a book about these topics, but for some reason she put it off for many years. Eventually she decided to do it. She thoroughly researched Chandler's life, by accessing university archives as well as visiting the many addresses of places he lived, which seemed to give her real inspiration. The result is a very well written account of Chandler's life that is also really well read by Suzanne Toren. Toren gives a wonderful perfomance, and she has a voice with more than a hint of Lauren Bacall; perfect for this subject.

I imagine that the author is an academic, as she is so thorough in her research. Her prose is also out of the top drawer, which makes listening a pleasure in itself. In fact the prose is so good that you do not notice it. On the other hand, the narrative is a little re-enterant, with little eddys that come around and revisit an issue now and again. Also, although there is a lot of factual information, there is also a great deal of speculation, but that too is a pleasure of the book that Freeman has shared her obsession with us in such an open and compelling way.

It is hard to know who will like this book. I suspect that you will either love it or hate it. If you like biographies then you will probably like this. If you do not like Jane Austin then you will probably not like this. These are the best two steers that I can give.
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- Mark H

A confidence trick!

This book gives us no insight whatsoever into its subject. It would seem the only qualification the author had for writing about Raymond chandler is the same as mine - that of having read his books! Her research seemed only to consist of visits to locations where he and his wife once lived! A complete waste of time and money!
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- grampian1

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-09-2008
  • Publisher: Audible Studios