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Narrator Rating (70)

My Dark Vanessa: A Novel

Unabridged Audio Book

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Grace Gummer

16 Hours 3 Minutes

HarperCollins Publishers

March 2020

Audio Book Summary


“Brilliant and stunning . . . an absolute must read.” – GILLIAN FLYNN

“A well-constructed package of dynamite.” – STEPHEN KING

A most anticipated book by The New York Times • USA Today • Entertainment Weekly • Marie Claire • Elle • Harper's Bazaar • Bustle • Newsweek • New York Post • Esquire •  Real Simple • The Sunday Times • The Guardian 



Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

Includes a bonus conversation with Kate Elizabeth Russell, Grace Gummer, and Jessica Williams (editor of My Dark Vanessa).

This audiobook includes an episode of the Book Club Girl Podcast, featuring an interview with Kate Elizabeth Russell about My Dark Vanessa.

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  • Mallory C.

    Great acting voice, a truly captivating read, no pun intended.

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  • Egle Z.

    A book that hits so closely to home. I read and I cried. The narration is absolutely beautiful as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Love love loved this. Didn’t want it to end. Really liked the characters and narration. Modern day Lolita.

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  • Anonymous

    All over, a thought provoking and well written book, but I find I cannot listen to the narration for too long, as I find the tone and manner of the narrator’s voice depressing.

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  • Anonymous

    Great so far

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  • Leslie P.

    Sleazy. Made me cringe. The narrator's male voice was annoying at first but I kept listening to find out if...well just finish it. Good story though.

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  • Anonymous

    honestly depressing kept listening thinking there might be something redeeming no even the author interview at the end was terrible very dark as the title notes

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  • Kristy A.

    It was very long and drawn out but I really liked the meaning behind it

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  • Savannah S.

    The book was very good, well written and interesting. The narrator was somewhat painful to listen to though

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  • Candace C.

    This was a very dark book. I identify with many of the feelings that I have overcome in my life. I felt the author enjoyed wallowing in the negativity instead of allowing the character to grow. At some point, in life or literature, you have to take responsibility, regardless of what happens ,and overcome. This author states she lived this character for years. Why? Why would you take years of your life to wallow in abuse without finding the way to redemption? Isn’t that what we all must find in our own way? Yes, life is hard ,but you chose to be a victim or an overcomer. If I’d known this was a book that dwells so much on victim hood I would not have allowed it in my life.

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