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Publisher's Summary

Vincent Appleton smiles at his daughters, raises a gun, and blows off his head. For the Appleton sisters, life had unraveled many times before. This time it explodes.

Eight-year-old Hariet, known to all as Ari, is dispatched to Cape Breton and her Aunt Mary, who is purported to eat little girls. With Ari on the journey is her steadfast companion, Jasper, an imaginary seahorse. But when they arrive in Pleasant Cove, they instead find refuge with Mary and her partner Nia.

As the tumultuous '60s ramp up in Toronto, Ari is torn from her aunts and forced back to her twisted mother and fractured sisters. Her new stepfather Len and his family offer hope, but as Ari grows to adore them, she's severed violently from them too, when her mother moves in with the brutal Dick Irwin.

Through the sexual revolution and drug culture of the 1960s, Ari struggles with her father's legacy and her mother's addictions - testing limits with substances that numb and men who show her kindness. She spins through a chaotic decade of loss and love, the devilish and divine, with wit, tenacity, and the astonishing balance unique to seahorses.

The Clay Girl is a beautiful tour de force that traces the story of a child, sculpted by kindness, cruelty, and the extraordinary power of imagination, and her families - the one she's born in to, and the one she creates.

©2016 Heather Tucker (P)2016 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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unexpected beauty

narrator was awesome, story line was unique and characters were relatable. definitely would reccomend as a young to mature womans reading groups.

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    4 out of 5 stars

a 'woman's book'...

... which is why I read it. I am a man.

narration: bit forced but over-all easy to listen to

story: very engaging, though it lulls in places

writing: I enjoyed her poetic writing style, though like the narration it felt forced in a few places. Also, there is very little description of what the characters, places and objects looked like. I don't even know what the main character looks like! London or Turgenev she is not.

best feature: educational - I learned a few things about the psychology of women - see below.

I purchased this book with one of my monthly credits because of the reviews and also the cover (I liked the simplicity of both title and seahorse). As a middle aged man with a huge amount of sexual experience and virtually no history of entangling relationships (by choice) I wanted to read about how one very young woman, albeit fictional, sees sex. I wanted to see how she describes both the experience and her lover(s).

The conclusion I come to, *if* the author is representative of the female perspective in general (no reason to suppose she is) is this: sex for women is largely contextual. For me, and according to my conversations with other men, both heterosexual and homosexual, this is remarkably different how we generally view sex: as physical pleasure, adventure and a challenge/game. Another difference is that what actually happens physically (e.g. "I spread my legs, he...") is less important than why, how, where etc. So, the character in this fiction describes more how she feels than what objectively occured. Of course, the two are related. But if I was a judge I would be skeptical of women's testimony for this reason. And of course we men are emotional too, including in a sexual relationship. But I speculate that ours is 80 physical/20 emotional vs. 20/80.

So, for me, listening was like hearing the experiences of someone from another planet.

Politically, the book's content concerned me because in Canada and to a lesser degree in USA, fictional works (and in Canada even written) about sexual relations between a minor (even a technical minor) are legally, socially, and especially commercially, problematic. Clay Girl, in many places describes psychological and physical abuse, and usually distantly, sexual abuse. Of children and adolescents. Girls. Sisters and half-sisters. Aunts too? I lost track of who was who, like so many books written by women family relationships are so important. Anyway, while sex with minors by adults are mentioned more than a few times in this book, it is being sold by Amazon. Yes, the sex is illegal and unethical (rape and incest) but as far as I know Canadian law doesn't make a distinction between descriptions of voiltional sex (i.e. between the protaganist and her older teen boyfriend) and between the step-father and his charges. I am reminded of comparing Bastard Out of Carolina with either Lolita. In the first a brutal child rape is portrayed, whereas in the second was an ambiguously consensual relationship. Which work of art drew heat?

While I found the female characters both sympathetic and human (even the addicted mother), I found the male characters cookie-cutter good or evil - the corrupt cop, abusive step-father, the sensitive boyfriend, the respectful teacher. There is not much subtlety here.

quote: Chapter 52
"
I lick the ice cream clinging to my fork.
"Did you have sex before you got married?"
'Well, given the fact that I'm *Miss* Burne, it's safe to assume so.'
"Do you like it?"
'Seven times out of ten, I love it. The other three - I love Ellis. So, what's two minutes [sic] going to put me out?'
I ask Jenna if she liked it. She said, 'It's just currency sis.'
Joy lays herself down anytime, any place to spread the love of Jesus. And the only thing Jilly Anne can tolerate touching her are the covers on her single bed. I hoped for a more positive spin from Jackie. She says every time was like being held under water. She counts through it knowing on the other side of it are sweet holding and a lightness in Frank that gets her breathing again."

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Wonderful writing and narration

Beautiful writing and storytelling. And the narrator had only a couple of funny pronunciations – overall, an impeccable experience.

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  • John S Rayner
  • 2016-11-16

You will love Ari Appleton

If you could sum up The Clay Girl in three words, what would they be?

The three words that come to mind are heartwarming, heartbreakng, inspiring.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Ari Appleton is my favorite character. She reminds me of Anne of Green Gables in the way she uses her imagination to escape some horrible circumstances.

Which character – as performed by Morgan Hallett – was your favorite?

Morgan is the perfect voice for Ari Appleton. She has lots of colour in her voice, and she brings Turcker's beautiful word pictures vividly to life.

Who was the most memorable character of The Clay Girl and why?

Ari was the most memorable character, but the other characters are vividly etched in my mind. Mary, Nia, Iggy, Len...all people I would love to have in my life.

Any additional comments?

The story is heartbreaking, but full of hope, and the writing is exquisite. Do yourself a favour and treat yourself to The Clay Girl.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • doctorJ
  • 2017-09-05

Fantastic book. Well read and wonderful story. Couldn't stop listening.

Truly wonderfully written wonderfully told story about an amazing look into humanity at its best and its worst. I loved every minute. I got barely get out of my car after my commute to stop listening.