We All Begin as Strangers

  • by Harriet Cummings
  • Narrated by Rachel Atkins
  • 8 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Heathcote, England, 1984. A mysterious figure is sneaking into homes through backdoors and open windows. Known locally as 'the Fox', he knows everything about everyone, leaving curious objects in their homes or taking things from them.
When beloved Anna disappears, everyone believes the Fox is responsible. For the villagers, finding Anna will be difficult - but stopping the Fox from exposing their darkest secrets might just be impossible.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Outstanding debut novel

Would you listen to We All Begin as Strangers again? Why?

I would listen to this novel again just to absorb the level of fine detail Harriet Cummings weaved through this tale. It had excellent character studies and story twists that had me wanting more.The conclusion was unexpected but spot on.

Who was your favorite character and why?

It's difficult to chose a favourite character because they were all so well rounded and real.

Which character – as performed by Rachel Atkins – was your favourite?

Rachel Atkins voiced each character with just the right amount of deviation so you new exactly who it was even before the narrative told you so. And again, to pick a favourite would be impossible.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I couldn't and didn't read it in one sitting. Which I felt was a good thing as it gave me time to digest each segment. Which I then eagerly looked forward to the next instalment.

Any additional comments?

This book reminded me of A Casual Vacancy. By JK Rowling with it's view of not quite so quaint village life. That was a book I thoroughly enjoyed, but this I felt equaled it. So I feel to compare Harriet Cummings to the most successful author of our age is a worthy and deserved accolade.

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- Philip

Exploring life behind Heathcote's closed curtains

I really enjoyed this, Harriet Cummings's first novel. It's set in the year of her birth 1984 when there was a true case of an intruder who was entering people's houses, leaving objects and taking others. The community here is Heathcote, frightened and upset by a series of intrusions into people's homes. The villagers call the intruder The Fox and as his unsettling visits continue and he seems to know things kept hidden about them, they become suspicious of one another and personal relationships are under strain.

Little by little, the unsatisfactory inner lives and intimacies of the various villagers are presented with all their human weaknesses and disappointments. Cummings has researched the 1980s background beautifully so that it rings absolutely true in all the many details, from social values to the details of the interior of the villagers' houses, what they eat and where they shop. Heathcote itself is created so that you can imagine the lanes and streets in which live these unassuming people whose lives Cummings makes increasingly engaging and complex the deeper she delves.

The heart of the story which reveals the identity of The Fox is dark and tragic and discovered only after much-loved, faithful church-goer Anna goes missing, but what makes this novel refreshing and unusual is that the whole is gentle and kind so that the focus is on these quiet and kind lives temporarily derailed by the threat posed by the perplexing presence of The Fox.

The narration added a great deal to my enjoyment. Rachel Atkins brought out the subtleties of each character and was particularly good on dialogue. The four parts of the novel are 'spoken' by four different characters with Doloris (whose miserable marriage is so well created) as the only woman. I wonder whether it might have been clearer if the other 3 three parts had been narrated on the download by three different male narrators?

I will be looking out for Harriet Cummings's next novel!
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- Rachel Redford

Book Details

  • Release Date: 20-04-2017
  • Publisher: Orion