History of the Rain

  • by Niall Williams
  • Narrated by Jennifer McGrath
  • 11 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's 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.

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What the Critics Say

"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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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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- Maggie

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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- Nettlewine

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-09-2014
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks