Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Leaving the World” as Want to Read:
Leaving the World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Leaving the World

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,412 Ratings  ·  355 Reviews
From the bestselling author of The Woman in the Fifth and The Pursuit of Happiness comes a devastating new novel.

Years after vowing to herself and her parents to never marry, have children and lead the resentful life they chose, Jane, now a Harvard professor, falls unexpectedly pregnant. Resolved as she’s been to childlessness, she begins to warm to the idea of motherhood,
Hardcover, 451 pages
Published April 21st 2009 by Hutchinson (first published March 5th 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Leaving the World, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Leaving the World

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniUnbroken by Laura HillenbrandThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Decent ADULT books for ADULT readers
282nd out of 524 books — 300 voters
Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëMatilda by Roald DahlHarry Potter Boxset by J.K. RowlingFlowers in the Attic by V.C. AndrewsThe True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Books with Evil Parents
27th out of 38 books — 16 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dec 02, 2011 Amy rated it liked it
I really, REALLY liked it at first. I thought the writing was smart and intelligent and I would stop periodically and think, "Wow, that sentence was really profound!" But then after about 250 pages I was getting tired of all the profound-ness and then I got almost irritated and I started thinking it was more...I don't know, pretentious? Examples...the digressions into the merits of certain musical genres and the literary analyses of great works of literature. It left me thinking I was supposed t ...more
Nancy (Hrdcovers)
Apr 25, 2009 Nancy (Hrdcovers) rated it it was amazing
Let me start off by saying that I never met a Douglas Kennedy book that I didn't love!! This book had arrived a few days ago (ordered from the UK because it came out there first) and, each time I passed the table where it was sitting, I actually got a tingle just seeing the name Douglas Kennedy on the cover and knowing that something great was between those covers.

I like to think I discovered Douglas Kennedy all on my own many, many years ago when I read The Big Picture. At that time, whenever
Aug 09, 2010 Lynn rated it did not like it
The first two-hundred pages of the book were actually fairly engaging... with the tragedies at least tolerable. Jane's father was on the run (and stole money from her); her mother was an absurd narcissist who blamed her daughter for her divorce; Jane's lover was killed in a dubious bicycling accident after a slew of terrible reviews for his book; and her eccentric, cinephile boyfriend and baby daddy ran off with an anorexic wannabe film producer. Each of these episodes became less and less authe ...more
I had no idea what rating to give this novel at first. The writing is beautiful, (five stars), the secondary characters believable, likeable and 'real' but the story lurched from one improbable event to another and at one stage I actually laughed with the 'silliness' of it. At times the dialogue was utterly pretentious especially when Jane was discussing literature or music etc. In the end (view spoiler) ...more
Karen Jonas
Dec 27, 2010 Karen Jonas rated it really liked it
It's a wild ride and I'm surprised by the way the author is connecting with a female lead character. I can honestly say I'm hooked and I'm intrigued by the writers musical references and descriptions to the point where I would like to do some research.

I must say I had a hard time putting the book down. The author spends about 3/4 of the book painting the lead character and circumstances leading up to the major event then the last 1/4 with a mystery and how the character changes. I don't want to
Kristin Strong
This is the worst book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT of books. What makes it bad? Where should I start? An unlikable, poorly characterized protagonist; implausibilities that border on the laughable; dialogue that is the most poorly written I've ever seen outside a Patricia Cornwell novel; loose ends never tied up (let's face it -- in everyday literature, the reader appreciates a little closure now and then)...these are a few of my un-favorite things. Add to this the sheer awfulness of ...more
Jul 12, 2010 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Q: What do you get when you take a chronically mistreated woman and put her through even more unthinkable (if boring) abuse? A: The absolute worst book I've read all year.

Jane Howard is a boring, bland, insufferable academic. So it's hard to feel sorry about her sh*tty childhood, her string of sorry lovers, her unremarkable career, or even -- God have mercy on my soul -- the death of her child. Her thoughts and feelings are about as compelling as an article out of some obscure literary criticis
May 28, 2011 Brooke rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First off, I felt like I was reading four different books here due to the 4 distinctly different and not so cohesive story lines.
Secondly, the author focused waaaaay too much on what it was like to work in the main character's various jobs. No reader needs or wants to know that much about the mundaneness of someone's job.
Lastly, I was annoyed at how the main character just kept falling into various opportunities to become rich. Does that really happen?

This book just really didn't do it for me
Jul 24, 2010 Jean rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Douglas Kennedy is a smart, gifted writer. Very thought provoking novel which takes you through a woman's darkest trials and does so in such a way that makes you stronger for it. I just loved this book.
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paula Sealey
Jun 11, 2010 Paula Sealey rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was a whim purchase while in the supermarket (darn them for stocking books, lol, I can never leave without picking one up!) Turns out it was a good whim, as the book was thoroughly enjoyable.

It does take quite a while to pick up though as the first 100 odd pages are quite slow and wordy. After that though, I became really engrossed and found myself wanting to read it through quickly to find out what happens!

I did find the addition of Jane, the central character, solving a crime, completely
Ineke van Mackelenbergh
Sep 11, 2014 Ineke van Mackelenbergh rated it really liked it
This is not the first book I have read by Douglas Kennedy, and like him as an author. Initially I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book by him because he appeared to come across as if he was talking at you, rather than wanting to engage you - proselytizing about the world of finance and making money.

However, the author’s rich vocabulary, phraseology and ability to engage your intellect as the story enfolds then took over and I wanted to find out what happens. The book kept me intrigued and s
Vicky Wilkinson
May 27, 2015 Vicky Wilkinson rated it liked it
This book was SO depressing! Every time Jane Howard did something something went horribly wrong and it was always down to one of the horrible awful people in her life. The only people I liked in the first half of the book were Christy and Mr Alker. The people in the second half of the book were a lot nicer but I did get the Impression that they were only nice because they knew what Jane had been through.

The first part of the book reminded me a little of One Day by David Nicholls. I enjoyed readi
Aug 30, 2010 RNOCEAN rated it it was amazing
On the night of her thirteenth birthday, Jane Howard made a vow to her warring parents: she would never get married, and she would never have children.
But life, as Jane comes to discover, is a profoundly random business. Many years and many lives later, she is a professor in Boston, in love with a brilliant, erratic man named Theo. And then Jane becomes pregnant. Motherhood turns out to be a great welcome surprise—but when a devastating turn of events tears her existence apart she has no choice
Jan 01, 2016 Heather rated it really liked it
I’m having a hard time pulling together my thoughts on this book. Its focus is loose, but it’s still engaging. What do I mean by a loose focus? Well, it doesn’t just cover Jane’s trauma and the aftermath, but also several years prior. It almost seemed to go too far back, but it really doesn’t. It’s long, but the back story helps explain how Jane got to where she was when she decided that the only recourse she had was to “leave the world.” Her home life as a child wasn’t a happy one, especially n ...more
Steve lovell
Jul 31, 2011 Steve lovell rated it it was ok
Sam de Brito is a favourite Melbourne Age columnist. I loved, but not necessarily agreed with, a recent scribing on his part about a certain type of woman he scathingly labelled 'the princess' - "...highly groomed, rarely seen out of high heels or air-conditioning , the princess smells good, tastes even better but, like taffy stuck to your back molar, soon starts a poisonous throb in your jaw." - the same sort of throb I had in ploughing through Douglas' novel about a most unappealing 'renaissan ...more
Dec 24, 2010 Rhonda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
On her 13th birthday, Jane tells her continually-fighting parents that she never will marry, or have children. The next day her father leaves them, and her mother blames her statement. Jane carries this guilt with her through her life. This lengthy book is an engaging journey through Jane's life, college, relationships, loves, and trials. I could not wait to get back to reading to see what happened next, and it was full of surprises.

The male author did a great job of telling the entire story fr
Jun 09, 2011 M rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Everyone picks up a novel hoping to get lost in a story. That simply won't happen with a narrator (author) who refuses to shut up. I kept wanting to yell, "Let me read, will you??" since the yapping protagonist never seemed willing to just have a story happen. I went to the store. I parked. I thought about the following sad memories and was sad. Then it was time for something else to happen.
Plot? HA. For about eighty percent of the book NOTHING happens and you think this is all building up somew
Laura Stone Johnson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 02, 2016 Lydia rated it did not like it
I'm grateful to this book for helping me break free of a longtime compulsion that for many years has required me to finish every book I start. Now I am free! After only 30 pages of hackneyed phrasing and wooden characters (is there really a mom out there who calls her kid 'dear' in every line of dialogue?) I threw it to the floor and picked up "Variety Crosswords" instead.
Apr 07, 2010 Alexandra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really disliked this book. What can i say, i was fooled by the synopsis. I had to force myself to finish it. Everytime i picked it up i was invaded by this very bad feeling. This book actually made me angry - this is the first time i experience something like this with a book.
I hated the main character Jane, so "the part" where the author described her routine (wich he did for like 350 pages out of the 450 total) was very frustrating and really really boring (by the third time the author menti
Ang Han
Jun 26, 2011 Ang Han rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth Whitehead
Jul 12, 2010 Elizabeth Whitehead rated it really liked it
Wonderful and Insightful Date: July 12, 2010
This review is for the Print format.

"Douglas Kennedy has once again shown in "Leaving the World" that he can express the uncertainity and angst in a person's life, no matter how smart or successful they are. He has shown as well the love a person can have for their child (even one they weren't sure they wanted) when they have not been shown the same sort of love from their own parents.
I couldn't put the book down and was disappointed when I finished
Sep 17, 2011 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I started to read this book I liked it because it had a highly-intelligent writing style. I was intrigued by the concept of destiny as it relates to Jane, the main character, since I often wonder about that and the effect that our decisions have on the outcomes of different situations in our lives. I was also intrigued by the book when I read that the author spent many years as an expat. He nailed his main character's "voice" as a woman, to the point that at the beginning of the book I had to ...more
Jessica Toohil
Jul 29, 2011 Jessica Toohil rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was not a fan. Not even sure this deserves a star. I give it one just because I did manage to get through it - but it was a chore. The writing was pompous (too many 12 letter words) and there was so much content (obscure literary references) that just made the book long and somewhat confusing and so much of it was irrelevant to the plot... wait, that assumes the book has a plot. The book tracks the life of one woman from affairs, to motherhood, to her absolutely horrid upbringing - her parents ...more
Jun 14, 2009 Vicky rated it it was amazing
Douglas Kennedy did not disappoint me in his new book. As always in his books, the story is interesting to the last page, the language is intelligent and the characters are memorable. What is amazing that the whole story written by a male author from the female point, about a woman who transformed herself through the tragic motherhood, relationship heartbreak and different challenges. Kennedy does not simply write as a female author, he feels like one, like he became one. I had the same experien ...more
Jul 15, 2010 Amy rated it it was ok
Well...I finished it. I just kept hoping I'd start liking it more than I actually did. I've read comments that the writer was so good at writing the way a woman talks/thinks/feels but to be honest, to me, I felt like I was reading a man writing a woman. Nothing good happens to this poor woman in the book. She's not all that likable. The dialog is pretentious at times. It is as if the writer was overly impressed with his own vocabulary. I understand the woman was a professor..but please.

I would n
Jul 28, 2012 Diana rated it it was ok
I have to say that this was a very hard read. I kept going because I'm one of those people that doesn't like to admit defeat with a book so I keep powering through it. But as I finished it last night here was my final thoughts, "Thank god that's over" and "I will never do this again." Mr. Kennedy may be a NYT best selling author but unless I want to slowly, and I do mean slowly, torture myself, I just will not pick up one of his books again. As a matter of fact, I'll be returning the other 3 I g ...more
Dec 01, 2009 Tanya rated it it was ok
About 100 pages into this book i gave up on it and then picked it back up after being chastised by my sister for giving up on books too soon.

This 450 page book was about 400 pages too long and i still wanted to give up on it at the very last page.

The synopsis on the back gives the impression that this is a heart wrenching drama, but in actual fact it is a looooooonnnnnngggg crime story (in my opinion).

It was rated 3.85 on Goodreads when i picked it up ......why, i will never know.
Nov 18, 2010 Ginny rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience with author Douglas Kennedy and look forward to reading his other novels. This was an intellectually stimulating story of protagonist Jane, a brilliant student and popular professor of literature who undergoes a heartrending tragedy. It explores her life, her relationships and the course of events both before and after her great loss. It takes us from Harvard to New England State, Calgary, Berlin and ends in Maine. Included is a riveting mystery in the la ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Point of View of Kennedy Books 2 9 Mar 12, 2014 01:36PM  
  • Computational Complexity: A Modern Approach
  • The Swallow and the Hummingbird
  • Skinheads
  • Isabella Moon
  • Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man
  • The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul: What Gnarly Computation Taught Me About Ultimate Reality, the Meaning of Life, and How to Be Happy
  • Den ukendte hustru
  • Evolution and Human Behavior
  • Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization
  • After the Ice: Life, Death, and Geopolitics in the New Arctic
  • Alkemins eviga eld (Maria Wern #12)
  • The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE
  • How Humans Evolved
  • The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel
  • De døde sjæles nat
  • Doña Nicanora's Hat Shop
  • The Recursive Mind: The Origins of Human Language, Thought, and Civilization
  • Stigninger og fald
Douglas Kennedy was born in Manhattan in 1955. He studied at Bowdoin College, Maine and Trinity College, Dublin, returning to Dublin in 1977 with just a trenchcoat, backpack and $300. He co-founded a theatre company and sold his first play, Shakespeare on Five Dollars a Day, to Radio 4 in 1980. In 1988 he moved to London and published a travel book, Beyond the Pyramids. His debut novel The Dead He ...more
More about Douglas Kennedy...

Share This Book

“We can rarely tell others what we really think about them--not just because it would so wound them, but also because it would so wound ourselves.” 23 likes
“Because there is no meaning to be found in the arbitrary nature of things., It's all random. Just as space is blue. And birds fly through it.” 14 likes
More quotes…