Cover Image: August Blue

August Blue

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Member Reviews

This I think was a case of me choosing this book because of the cover, which is rare for me, but it definitely wasn’t for me. I appreciated that both the length and chapters were short (otherwise it would’ve been a DNF), the narration was great, it was well-written and I enjoyed traveling along with the main character across Europe. You may still want to check this out if the synopsis interests you and/or if you’re familiar with the author’s previous works.
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“𝘐 𝘭𝘦𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘴 𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘮𝘺 𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘻𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘴. 𝘌𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘶𝘯𝘳𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘭. 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘭𝘺 𝘪𝘯 𝘮𝘺 𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺; 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘢𝘺, 𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴, 𝘰𝘳 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨. 𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯. 𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘭𝘦𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘰𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘴 𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘮𝘦, 𝘵𝘰𝘰.”

At the peak of her career, 34-year-old pianist Elsa Anderson, a child prodigy, abruptly leaves a Vienna stage in the middle of performing Rachmaninov’s second concerto.

In Athens, with newly dyed blue hair, she witnesses a woman who looks like her double, wearing a green raincoat like her own, buying prancing horse figurines from a flea market. Coveting them herself, she discovers they're sold out.

The stranger drops her fedora hat, so Elsa retrieves the hat and wears it, intent on only returning it in exchange for the horses. As she travels to London, Paris and Sardinia, she is persistently shadowed by the woman, until they meet and Elsa has an epiphany.

Her keen eye for detail and distinctive literary style, has earned Levy, a Booker Prize finalist, widespread acclaim for her ability to explore themes of identity, memory, and transformation. 𝘈𝘶𝘨𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘉𝘭𝘶𝘦 defies categorization. Levy’s writing is nuanced and does not offer up easy answers. If you enjoy surrealism and love Levy’s earlier works, 𝘈𝘶𝘨𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘉𝘭𝘶𝘦 will be a grand addition to your bookcase.

𝗡𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 

𝘈𝘶𝘨𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘉𝘭𝘶𝘦 is an Earphones Award winner. Alix Dunmore is a superb narrator with a harmonious English accent and perfect narrative pacing.

With meticulous attention to detail and an unwavering commitment to an exceptional listening experience, Macmillan Audio consistently produces remarkable audiobooks, and 𝘈𝘶𝘨𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘉𝘭𝘶𝘦 is no exception.

𝗔𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗔𝘂𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗿

Deborah Levy is the author of seven novels, including 𝘉𝘦𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘪𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘔𝘶𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘴, 𝘚𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘰𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘎𝘦𝘰𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘩𝘺, 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘜𝘯𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘥, 𝘉𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘎𝘪𝘳𝘭, 𝘚𝘸𝘪𝘮𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘏𝘰𝘮𝘦 and 𝘏𝘰𝘵 𝘔𝘪𝘭𝘬, and two volumes of memoir, 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘐 𝘋𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘞𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘛𝘰 𝘒𝘯𝘰𝘸 and 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘓𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨. Both 𝘚𝘸𝘪𝘮𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘏𝘰𝘮𝘦 and 𝘏𝘰𝘵 𝘔𝘪𝘭𝘬 were shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Her short story collection, 𝘉𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘝𝘰𝘥𝘬𝘢, was nominated for the International Frank O'Connor short story award and was broadcast on BBC Radio 4, as were her acclaimed dramatizations of Freud's iconic case studies, 𝘋𝘰𝘳𝘢, and 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘞𝘰𝘭𝘧𝘮𝘢𝘯. Levy has written for The Royal Shakespeare Company, and her pioneering theater writing is collected in 𝘓𝘦𝘷𝘺: 𝘗𝘭𝘢𝘺𝘴 1. Deborah Levy is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature.

A huge thank you to @NetGalley and @MacmillanAudio for the opportunity to listen to this ALC. All opinions expressed are my own.
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This was fine, though I don’t really understand the hype for Levy’s writing. 

This isn’t meant to dispute whether she is in fact a good writer (of course she is), but much like, say, Rachel Cusk, I find that the critics’ darling label often snowballs in a way that isn’t especially accurate. Is the writing good? Sure, but compared to others who have been labeled “good” writers in a similar style/genre, it’s not especially evocative, immersive, or meaningful.

I mostly found the whole thing a bit flat, though I did like some of the descriptions that are meant to create a sense of place. The story, too, is fine in and of itself, it just fails to excite or to make you think much, which leaves this a solid step below what I personally would consider truly great writing.
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A restless story of self-discovery, August Blue speaks to the part of each of us that we discovered during the fateful days of lockdown.

34-year-old, former child prodigy, Elsa M. Anderson has just walked off the stage after suddenly forgetting how to play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Suddenly, the compositions which had once structured her life are failing her. Similarly, her place in her family unit has come into question, as the man who adopted her and changed her name from Anna at age 6, in order to train her to be a piano virtuoso, takes ill. 

As Elsa searches for herself in dying her hair blue (to separate herself from the birth parents she never knew) and traveling Europe to teach piano to children, she meets characters who are rediscovering themselves and children who are already so strongly themselves, that Elsa can’t help but feel compelled by them. Most enigmatic of all is the mysterious woman “who bought the horses,” a doppelganger Elsa spies in the market, but can’t quite catch up to. Throughout the novel, Elsa entertains conversations in her mind with the woman, who serves as a proxy for both her mother, and the self whom Elsa is becoming. 

August Blue is a thoughtful novel. The characters and stories weave together seamlessly. The pace is slow, though, and the story lacks any exciting incident or great drama. However, I appreciate what Levy’s done. I feel she’s captured what it means to reinvent oneself, through a lens other than coming of age. It’s simple and beautiful.
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Thank you to the publisher for the ALC. I love audiobooks where it feels like you are in the main characters head and just following them and in their world.
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I received both an ARC and ALC of this novel and thoroughly enjoyed both! I ended up listening more than reading, and the reason is that the narration was very strong here. The narrator’s voice was a perfect choice for this story and her pronunciation was exquisite. I would definitely recommend this audiobook and am curious to find out what else this narrator has done in the past!

Thanks to Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for the ALC!
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Elsa had some bad luck in her life, amd the way she handelled it  is pushing them on a side. After seeing her double Atheans she starts thinking about her life decitions and things that happen to her as well that she is doing. I did not like book Elisa complainted and whined too much for my taste.
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This was my first time reading Deborah Levy and I have to honestly say that I think I am just not the correct reader for this book. We have a blue haired piano prodigy who quits in the middle of a show and then spends the rest of the book in her feelings as she travels around Europe. She's haunted by a doppelganger and at moments I felt like she would spiral out of control in spectacular and interesting ways. But alas, the book just plods along slowly. 

I also feel like I missed tons of references. It's the type of book where you know there is a lot of hidden meaning, but unless you are well versed on the reference subjects, you're unlikely to get them. 

All in all, I could see someone who reads lots of experimental fiction/literary fiction and is really into music, art, and psychology as the ideal reader for this book. While I personally did not really enjoy this book all that much, I think the writing was lovely and that there is definitely an audience who will like this. 

I did listen to this book on audio and thought the narrator did a good job with it. 

Thank you to Netgalley, Deborah Levy, and Farrar Straus and Giroux for the Audio-ARC. This in no way affects the objectivity of my review.
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I love the slightly unhinged aspect of this book. It was such an enjoyable listen. The writing is clever and sharp easy to process but more incisive when I thought back on it. I loved how ephemeral and open ended the story was.
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This was my first book by Deborah Levy and it did not disappoint. I have added her other books to my TBR list. Great narration to set the atmosphere. Thanks to MacMillan audio and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to an advance copy
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This is the third book that i have read in a relatively short space of time that requires ones full attention, plus a great deal of thought. Those who read Deborah Levys novels will not be surprised that this is so. Her books and her writings are markedly original, often like dream sequences that I find compelling. 

A woman, in her thirties, a piano prodigy, walks off the stage in the middle of a concert. Why and who she is will become part of the focus of this novel. We follow her across Europe, more so after she spots a woman buying a set of mechanical horses that she wants to but herself. That the woman looks like her, might be her doppelganger, causes her to look everywhere for this woman. She does spot her in various locations and places. Is she being followed and if so for what reason?

A novel about identity, about how important ones own self is dependent on who we are. There are clues in this novel, which is where the paying attention come in. At books end I was able to see what these very dreamlike images meant.

Once again the narrator was terrific but it might have been easier to follow in print.
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I really enjoyed August Blue. The writing was effortless to read and felt poetic. I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook; the narrator was calm and had a gentle voice. I loved being transported to Sardinia, Greece, England, and Paris as a professional pianist travels after an unfortunate performance. Levy beautifully portrayed Elsa's relationship with her mentor and surrogate father, as well as the various relationships in her life. The story felt melancholy but not too dreary.
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This book tells the story of a famous pianist, Elsa M. Anderson, and her internal life-crisis once she messes up at a concert. Elsa is dealing with a couple of internal struggles like dealing with the fact that her foster dad and piano teacher is dying, dealing with finding her birth mother (or not). 

I personally think this book was not for me. A lot in this book is happening inside her head and a lot is implied too. There's nothing wrong with it, I just wanted her to come to terms with her decisions and her discoveries and it kind of felt like we never reach a conclusion of the story.
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August Blue by Deborah Levy is an incisive, brief but deep exploration of self. It is my first work of fiction from Levy, a Booker Prize finalist whose three-part living memoir (Real Estate; Cost of Living; Things I Don’t Want to Know). I really enjoyed how the MC Elsa sort of dreamily rebuilds and reinvents who she is over the short course of this novel, traveling to European countrysides to tutor musical children after she, herself a musical child prodigy, has a breakdown during a global staged performance. Sometimes in a fugue state, and sometimes with extreme clarity, Elsa reenters a post-pandemic world with the same sputters and confusion we can all still relate to and is able to navigate us through to the end…or new beginning.

The audiobook narrator was strong and consistent.

Thank you @netgalley @macmillanaudio and @FSG for the ALC! 

genre: general fiction
pub day: 6/6/23
rating: 5/5
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August Blue is the first novel I've read by Deborah Levy, but it's easy to see why she is held in such esteem. There is a haunting, contemplative lyricism to her writing that kept me engrossed in this book, even though it's not at all a plot-driven story.

After a public fall from grace on stage in Vienna, renowned pianist Elsa M. Anderson finds herself in Greece, where she's come to teach private piano lessons. Across the public market, she watches a strangely familiar woman buying a pair of mechanical horses. As she travels across Europe, the woman seems to shadow her as she spirals into fraught memories and tries to come to terms with her past in order to move forward with her life.

August Blue is a cerebral, character-driven story, beautifully written and metaphorical. In many ways it's a simple story about a woman rediscovering herself, but at the same time it's a complex examination of womanhood, childhood trauma, artistic expression, the constraints of talent, and the manifestations of grief. It left me with lots of questions, but I was mesmerized and entranced by the journey Levy took me on and I was content with not knowing all the answers. I listened to portions of it as an audiobook, read by Alix Dunmore, and her narration is intimate and full of feeling. Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Macmillan Audio, and NetGalley for the advance reading opportunity.
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This book was well written and flowed fine but really just wasn't my jam. I have proven to myself that I am just not a straight-up literary fiction kind of girl. I just kept wondering, wtf are we doing here? This was a me issue and not a book/author issue.
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I've never read a Levy book before, but did know going in that they're usually dense with surrealism. In this intriguing novel, Elsa is a piano prodigy who abruptly stops playing in the midst of a big performance. She takes off and roams through Greece, where she sees her "double," a woman in a green raincoat who looks almost like her. Elsa's journey of self-discovery was unique, but a bit too surreal for me. At times I wished for a more clear-cut narrative, so that I could truly connect with the character. I listened to this one as well, and Alix Dunmore does a lovely job narrating this story. If you're a Levy fan, you'll most likely enjoy this one. Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me.
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Blue-haired Elsa Anderson is a world-renowned pianist...well, that is, until she freezes during Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and leaves her career to teach music lessons throughout Europe instead.

This was the first work of Deborah Levy's that I have read, and it seems she is known for very puzzling narrative/prose. Honestly, I had some trouble cohesively piecing this story together, as it seemed to quickly flit between scenes and I didn't know quite what to make of it. There was definitely a nod to Disney's Frozen with the main character. I nearly DNF'd this title because there were a lot of sexual metaphors...including a couple of scenes with sexual content that made me a bit uncomfortable, as I did not know to expect them. It felt as though Elsa almost lost a sense of identity after her Rachmaninoff's mishap, like she was dissociating her way through life afterwards. There was a lot of mention of doubles, and a lot of what felt like random mentions of the pandemic, as it didn't seem particularly a large part of the plot to me.

I listened to August Blue on audio, and while the narrator did hold my attention, I definitely think this title takes a bit more thought to try and work through the plot.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio, NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an advanced opportunity to listen to this audiobook in exchange for my honest review. All opinions stated above are my own. August Blue is expected to be published June 6, 2023.
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The story and the writing are flawless, and absorbing. The protagonist and narrator is seeking for her true self and keeps this intimate dialogue with a woman that she considers her “double “. I loved how the audiobook narrator achieves this level of intimacy and reflexion. Her voice and her accent are perfect for this character, and I really enjoyed it.
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August Blue by Deborah Levy is much like her other book The Man Who Saw Everything, in that it is more experimental and it's main focus is on exploring the characters psyche rather than plot. I found the exploration of our main characters identity really interesting. I felt Levy had a unique outlook about how we can run away from ourselves and what it's like to finally confront the topic. 
My main issue with the book was that the parts about the pandemic took me out of the story. It may just be me but I'm not ready to read stories about this time in lock down yet.
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