Benediction : Plainsong

  • by Kent Haruf
  • Narrated by Mark Bramhall
  • Series: Plainsong
  • 8 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for The Folio Prize 2014
From the beloved and best-selling author of Plainsong and Eventide comes a story of life and death, and the ties that bind, once again set out on the High Plains in Holt, Colorado.
When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife, Mary, must work together to make his final days as comfortable as possible. Their daughter, Lorraine, hastens back from Denver to help look after him; her devotion softens the bitter absence of their estranged son, Frank, but this cannot be willed away and remains a palpable presence for all three of them. Next door, a young girl named Alice moves in with her grandmother and contends with the painful memories that Dad's condition stirs up of her own mother's death. Meanwhile, the town's newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and teenaged son, a task that proves all the more challenging when he faces the disdain of his congregation after offering more than they are accustomed to getting on a Sunday morning. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do everything they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.
Despite the travails that each of these families faces, together they form bonds strong enough to carry them through the most difficult of times. Bracing, sad and deeply illuminating, Benediction captures the fullness of life by representing every stage of it, including its extinction, as well as the hopes and dreams that sustain us along the way. Here Kent Haruf gives us his most indelible portrait yet of this small town and reveals, with grace and insight, the compassion, the suffering and, above all, the humanity of its inhabitants.

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What the Critics Say

“Reverberant… From the terroir and populace of his native American West, the author of Plainsong and Eventide again draws a story elegant in its simple telling and remarkable in its authentic capture of universal human emotions.” (Brad Hooper, Booklist

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Melancholy and memorable

The book seems slow at first as the daily life is described of a family in a small town a few hours drive from Denver, Colorado. Latterly I realised that this seemingly parochial beginning gets one well acquainted with the characters so that their feelings and fate matter as gradually family tensions and resentments are revealed.

A melancholy mood pervades the book as the patriarch of the family learns he has terminal cancer. A diagnosis that leads him to think about his life and his relationships with his family. He’s been an unforgiving father at times, bearing grudges and not showing enough affection to his family. A subsidiary story involving the local minister echoes the theme of forgiveness, even of ones enemies.

If you’ve been with a loved one as they die the final scenes will bring tears to your eyes as upsetting memories are revived.

The narrator’s voice catches perfectly the sombre tone of the book.

Not a happy listen but a memorable one that made me think about important issues.
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- Kirstine

Great book enhanced by the narration

What made the experience of listening to Benediction the most enjoyable?

A sensitive, well written novel enhanced by the excellent narration


What did you like best about this story?

It is a story about normal everyday experiences - in this case a long life and marriage, family relationships and social history.


What about Mark Bramhall’s performance did you like?

Great characterisation.


Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me sad but I enjoyed it if that makes sense!


Any additional comments?

Kent Haruf is an outstanding writer and I have enjoyed all of his books.

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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 26-02-2013
  • Publisher: Random House Audio