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Bellevue Square

Written by: Michael Redhill
Narrated by: Sarah Mennell
Length: 8 hrs and 4 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (212 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist

A darkly comic literary thriller about a woman who fears for her sanity - and then her life - when she learns that her doppelganger has appeared in a local park.

Jean Mason has a doppelganger. She's never seen her, but others swear they have. Apparently, her identical twin hangs out in Kensington Market, where she sometimes buys churros and drags an empty shopping cart down the streets, like she's looking for something to put in it. Jean's a grown woman with a husband and two kids as well as a thriving bookstore in downtown Toronto, and she doesn't rattle easily - not like she used to. But after two customers insist they've seen her double, Jean decides to investigate.

She begins at the crossroads of Kensington Market: a city park called Bellevue Square. Although she sees no one who looks like her, it only takes a few visits to the park for her to become obsessed with the possibility of encountering her twin in the flesh. With the aid of a small army of locals who hang around in the park, she expands her surveillance, making it known she'll pay for information or sightings. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers, and vagrants - the regulars of Bellevue Square - are eager to contribute to Jean's investigation. But when some of them start disappearing, she fears her alleged double has a sinister agenda. Unless Jean stops her, she and everyone she cares about will face a fate much stranger than death.

©2017 Michael Redhill (P)2017 Doubleday Canada

What the critics say

" Bellevue Square is something of a performance.... In its taut span... Bellevue Square features several narrative and tonal hairpin turns. With each of these, our admiration for Redhill's storytelling dexterity burgeons.... I'd rather be lost in Redhill's ghost story than grounded in your average slab of tasteful literary realism." ( The Globe and Mail)
"Sit yourself down in Bellevue Square and watch as parallel worlds collide. Redhill has written a mind-blowing brainteaser of a novel with plot twists worthy of David Lynch. A brilliant tribute to those among us whose brains are wired differently." (Neil Smith, author of Boo)

What listeners say about Bellevue Square

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Mind-Bending Must Read!

Great narration! She did a great job at bringing the characters to life. And the story was fantastic. You really have to pay attention, but it's worth it.

8 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Strange and Fresh Mystery

I've never read a book like this before. It's so familiar with its Toronto locality, but so very Alice in Wonderland simultaneously. A shorter read and packed with rich descriptions of characters and nuances you might need to re-listen to catch. If you like mysteries, mixed with magical realism, this is worth a shot.

#Audible1

1 person found this helpful

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I'm on the fence

I'll start off by saying this isn't the type of novel I usually read, but once in a while I branch out and try something new.

I enjoyed the first half because it felt like a mystery novel, but then the author switched gears and it felt a bit jarring to me, as though I was reading two different stories...but if you've read this book you'll understand when I say that this was probably intentional and kept with the overall theme. So...yay?

It wasn't my cup of tea, but I recognize good writing when I see it, and this was good writing. There is a reason it has won awards, and you might just love it.

#Audible1

1 person found this helpful

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Out of Kilter

I can’t say that I enjoyed this book. It was so confusing. At times my interest would be peaked and then things would become plodding. I wasn’t able to develop a sense of connection wit the protagonist Jean, who is either mentally ill or the victim of a sci-fi plot.
I guess perhaps I am missing something here because it was a Giller prize winner but the bottom line is that I didn’t enjoy the read. I forced myself to finish it. The narrator did a good job.

1 person found this helpful

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Frustration!

This book started off okay. I was intrigued. But by the 3rd hour in I was just getting frustrated and found myself going backwards to try and figure out what I'd missed. I hadn't missed anything. If it was the author's intent to make you feel as frustrated as someone dealing with schizophrenia or some other dissociative disorder then it worked. I only stuck with it to the end thinking it would all be explained. It wasn't. Wish I could get a refund. Would not recommend it.

1 person found this helpful

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A complete mindf@ck

What just happened? Wow. I’ll have to wait for the Netflix to pick it up. Worth the time. Great Canadian content.

1 person found this helpful

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dizzying

This book will stay with me for a long time. It explored so much, but left me complete clueless as to what happened. Incredible and 10%Giller worthy.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Loved it then got lost...

The first half of this book is quite fast paced and will have you on the edge of your seat. The second half not so much... perhaps I missed something but I'm at a bit of a loss for what actually happened. This may very well be the authors intention as the theme of the book is definitely an existential crisis of sorts.

I did enjoy the reading style of the narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Mentally unstable

Was drawn to the subject matter, mental health, and setting, Toronto. But didn't get what I was hoping for. Too many twists and turns, wasn't sure what it was all about in the end.

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Bellevue Square

This book was difficult to follow right from the first chapter. It created anxiety for me reading it. Still wasn't sure what was real even at the very end. Two thumbs down for me

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  • Gerry
  • 2017-12-16

Sorry, not for me

If you are looking for a book that has lots of Toronto locations in it, then you may like this. If you want a book that has the laudable idea about treating mental illness like any other disease, then this is great. But frankly, it is so confusing with who is actually the real person and ends up not really clear (to me anyway), that I didn't enjoy it much. I bought it because if the outstanding beginning in the book store, but the story didn't hold up for me.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ellyn Levy
  • 2017-12-05

WOW- Michael Redhill had me hooked from the beginning.!

This was one of the most “twisty” mentally challenging novels I’ve read in a long time. I could not guess what was going to happen next- which made it even more exciting! I think it was genius and hope the sequel comes out soon. Read this book- you’re not going to be able to put it down.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Roger Perrault
  • 2018-07-28

Total waste of time

I have not read a book this bad in many many years! I cannot imagine how this could win a Giller prize. The narrator is a woman but is really a man who does not know how woman behave or think. Characters are of the cardboard variety, introduced, not developed and then discarded. The plot line is bizarre and does not convince. I am sure that the author once worked in a bookshop, a hospital and has spent lots of time in public parks observing the fauna. There is even a-nod to the radio program “Writers and company”.

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  • Ellen P., Thornhill
  • 2018-02-07

Brilliant!

I love the writing style and detail in this book. Michael Redhill is a very detail-oriented author and I enjoyed imagining what his eloquent words were portraying. Definitely something I could read twice and I rarely say that. I really enjoyed this book especially because I hypothesized what was happening early on and could really appreciate where he went with it.