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Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  205 ratings  ·  56 reviews
One writer’s mysterious death, another’s relentless quest for fame, and a bitter literary critic’s passion for manipulation drive the story of this haunting novel set in a small upstate New York college town in the 1990s.

Catherine Strayed wonders if she’ll ever know the truth about the death of her husband, a promising writer who died under circumstances that could have be
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Algonquin Books
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I didn’t really feel much of anything after I finished this novel. Not happy, or sad, or anger, or despair, or excitement, or resentment. Even as I was reading ANTONIA LIVELY BREAKS THE SILENCE, my only desire was to set this book aside and move on to the next one.

Instead of aiming to be either literary fiction or a mystery, this novel tried to combine elements of both, and the glue never quite seemed to gel. The novel might have been better served if it stepped back a bit and got out of its own
Oh dear ... I'm not a critic but somehow this book was sold to me last week at a local bookstore ahead of its official release. It was not a good purchase.
The story is vapid, empty of meaning or redemption and with an incredibly poor cast of characters (who were not well developed).
I also found it irritating that none of the cast seem able to speak in more than one or two word sentences i.e. this "conversation" between Antonia and Ezra:

"Where's Henry?"
"Am I my father's keeper?"
"That was a nast
I had so much fun reading this book. Not because the subject matter is particularly fun, but because it felt like a mystery or a melodrama throughout the entire book. I understand it is about death and other serious things, but it fits the whole small-town-many-mysteries idea well.

After the death of her husband Wyatt, Catherine Strayed is trying to cope with her life in her upstate New York town. She works in a bookstore and is surrounded by writers, things that constantly remind her of her late
Heather Fineisen
There is some good writing here and there, but the narrator is at best unreliable, maybe incompetent...the plot too thick with metaphorical smoke and characters sharing one another like cigarettes, ashes everywhere but the damn ashtray.
Allison Campbell

The blurbs compare this title to THE SECRET HISTORY and REBECCA, so perhaps my expectations were too high with this novel. The premise: Catherine Strayed gave up her own career to support her husband’s writing, even moving to an insufferable small town to do so. When her former professor/lover, Henry Swallow (who is also the reviewer who destroyed her husband’s career), moves to town, things get awkward. Now widowed, she leads a quiet life until Antonia Li
Courtney Kazmierczak
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I have mixed feelings about Antonia Lively. As a few days have passed between ranking this book and writing this review, I feel I was generous in handing out my rating of 3 stars. Don't get me wrong. David Samuel Levinson can certainly write. It's what he chose to write about is what bothers me.

Antonia Lively is set in a small college town in Upstate New York, and deals with a number of characters in the literary world. Wyatt, a now-dead one-time novelist; Catherine, his wife; Henry, her former
Danielle Villano
I loved the premise of this book. I've always been a huge fan of books about writers. It's sort of thrilling, knowing that the writing life can be dramatic and interesting, right?

However, while I found a lot of this writing to be lovely, I didn't really think that I got to connect with any of the characters. The shift between POV confused me; I didn't know how to feel about any of the characters, really. Even Catherine, who I thought I was supposed to empathaize with - feel for - I felt disconne
College towns in the summer are different. Without the students there, the town sleeps and stirs lazily. The energy level drops dramatically as everyone waits for the coolness of fall and the students' return.

Catherine Strayed is living in such a town. She works in a bookstore and works through the grief of losing her husband, Wyatt, a talented novelist. Wyatt's novel was groundbreaking, but killed upon birth by an influential critic, Henry Swallow. With the death of his novel's success came t
Delilah Stone
This guy can write! Beautiful, swoon-worthy sentences, yes, but more importantly, Levinson is a master storyteller. ANTONIA is brilliantly enmeshed in secrets, literary and otherwise. I couldn't recommend this novel highly enough; it is so exceedingly rare these days to find a writer who knows his craft so well that one forgets the time, the dog to be walked, even the husband to be fed…

I immediately bought his book of short stories, MOST OF US ARE HERE AGAINST OUR WILL, and found it to be very d
Jessica Piazza
Truly lovely descriptive writing, and enough twists and turns to keep any reader interested. The novel starts off a little slow, but picks up pace and gets better and better and better. Recommend!
Katherine Clark
I am not sure how to review this book. It is interesting;it was in my room of books that I want to eventually read. I assumed it was a mystery novel (it kind of reviewed itself as one), but it actually was literary fiction. It was well-written with well created characters. Stuff happened. (I love books where one event leads to an explosion of other events). But, it wasn't a mystery, and I found this disappointing. The big reveal at the end just wasn't that interesting. It could have been. I noti ...more
I really did not enjoy this book. From my perspective it was overwritten.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

This is probably a five-star rating for writing, and a 3.5 star for story. The writing is exquisite. I could go on and on about it, but I don't need to. Levinson is a very talented writer. We're introduced to Catherine at the beginning of the book, who is still mourning the death of her husband a year and a half ago. She's in that agonizing place where things are "back to normal" but still misses him
Larry Hoffer
Do we have sole possession of our lives and what happens in them, or are they fodder for artists? That is a question David Samuel Levinson seeks to answer in his intriguing but ultimately frustrating novel, Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence.

In Winslow, a small college town in upstate New York, Catherine Strayed continues to mourn the mysterious death of her writer husband, Wyatt. No one is sure whether his death was an accident, a suicide, or a murder, but he left their house one morning, ostens
Cynthia Archer
I thank the publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book prior to publication. I liked this story a lot. The characters were interesting, and the story was just quirky enough to make me want to know more. Perhaps I was also drawn to the story because of the idea of writers and book stores, a world that fascinates me. Whatever it was, I was transfixed by this book, and found myself looking for excuses to go back to reading until I was done.

The ending is a bit unpredictable, but it
Rebeca Schiller
David Samuel Levinson’s debut novel, Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence, serves as a warning to aspiring novelists that will force them to question if the literary life is for them—especially after they meet Antonia Lively and Henry Swallow.

The story opens with Catherine Strayed, widow of the late, novelist Wyatt Strayed. Catherine spends her days wondering whether Wyatt’s death was accidental, suicide, or even foul play. Prior to Wyatt’s passing, Catherine’s world was turned upside down when her
Jennifer Chow
This book is like a piece of stained glass art. The many composite shards of the characters' lives create a comprehensive image, and when the light shifts, it changes the perspective a tiny bit, revealing more intricacies. Levinson does an excellent job of portraying us humans, with all of our messy thoughts and questionable decision-making.

I'm also impressed by how he accurately conveyed the perspective of a female widow in the main protagonist, Catherine Strayed. There were some slight shifts
Anna Janelle
As a repeat participant in undergraduate creative writing courses, like Antonia Lively, I, too, am guilty of cannibalizing the personal lives of those familiar to me for fiction fodder. As a largely unread amateur author, I've had the privilege of keeping my fictional creations far from the prying eyes friends and family members who may not have been flattered with my literary interpretation of their situations or psyches. As an up-and-coming, bestselling, award-winning new author, Antonia Livel ...more
I received this novel from NetGalley.

This novel was a joy to read, Levinson has created a novel about a novel and it is so very clever in that portrayal. Although at times the narrator becomes confusing, or the point of view changes so abruptly that it is confusing for the reader. This aside, this novel is great!

The characters are amazingly well rounded and deep, the story line is creative and it is great to read a book about normal every-day people who just want to be well known authors, it is
Christoph Fischer
"Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence" by David Samuel Levinson is a surprisingly well plotted and intriguing book. Starting of with the story of a middle aged widow whose writer husband suffered from a destructive review by a man the widow once had an affair with, the story takes us through the lives of several characters and their stories connected to the town of Winslow and its campus.
I don't want to spoil the reading experience by giving away much of the plot as it thickens and comes together g
Cassandra Hemesath
I've been trying to get in to indie-ish books lately and really enjoyed Wool Omnibus and Veil. I asked Aaron Overfield to recommend another book he thought I might like and he said he was in the middle of reading Antonia Lively.

I finished this in a day and a half (which I guess isn't saying too much because it's only a little over 300 pages, but that's still a lot). David Samuel Levinson has quite a career ahead of him and I'm glad he was recommended. I'm going to shelf his other books.

One of m
Pam Gary
Talented author David Samuel Levinson knows how to manipulate a story. What a cast of characters! Just when I would become sympathetic with a given character, he turned out to be a jerk. And when one least expects it, a character is suddenly far more immersed into the plot than the reader realizes from the start.

The novel is intriguing, loaded with surprises, and extremely well-written. Those who like writers and critics as fictional characters will enjoy this read.
Sarah Miers
I'm giving this three stars because it was so hard to put down -- but I have to wonder. I'm not sure the author likes writers, or women, at all! I'm not sure why he chose to spend so much time with them. Everyone is a fool or a villain, or both. But he writes really beautifully. I hope he got whatever was in his system out and writes something else.
I loved this book from beginning to end. The premise worked for me, and the plot twists worked as well. Former English major, grieving the death of her author husband, gets involved with a former professor/lover and his new author/girlfriend in intrigue involving their interwoven past. Loved it!
Original Review:

Antonia Lively waltzes into town with her much older boyfriend and turns everyone’s lives upside down. Rather than contenting herself with her debut novel, Antonia is on the look-out for a story to write. Under the guise of befriending the townsfolk, Antonia explores and exploits their secrets on the page.

As much as I wanted to love this one, especially since it features a small college town and an interesting group of writers, I just coul
The book was a letdown for me. I had high hopes when I read the summary, but soon found out it was less than what I thought it was going to be. Don’t get me wrong; it was well thought out and the writing was very good, but there seemed to be something missing. (Part of that could be contributed to the fact that the book I read before this one was a fantasy novel.)

The story was slightly intriguing but was at times hard to follow due to new characters that showed up without warning and scenes I h
David Samuel Levinson’s ‘Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence’ is pure indulgence. Set in a small college town, a host of narrators—all writers or otherwise connected to the publishing industry—uncover the mystery surrounding one promising writer’s death. The premise lured me in immediately, but pedestrian plot twists and awkward pacing tempered my initial excitement. Though the meat of the novel takes place over a single summer, episodes of action follow each another without consequence (crimes ar ...more
I had really mixed feelings about this book, though the ending helped me to put my finger on what I couldn't really grasp about it. I just felt sort of uneasy the whole time.
I only finished it because I wondered what the "twist" at the end was going to be. Didn't find the characters believable or interesting.
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David Samuel Levinson is the author of the story collection, Most Of Us Are Here Against Our Will and the novel, Antonia Lively Breaks The Silence (Algonquin Books, June 2013). He’s been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize and won an award for fiction in The Atlantic Monthly. He’s received multiple fellowships from Yaddo, the Jentel Foundation, the Millay Colony, Ledig House, Pouch Cove ...more
More about David Samuel Levinson...

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