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Antonia Lively Breaks The Silence

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  260 ratings  ·  66 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
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Algonquin Books
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3.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  260 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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May 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
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
Rebecca McNutt
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
With its current overall rating of 3/5 stars, I wasn't expecting a lot from this novel. I bought a copy anyway and I'm glad I did, because it turned out to be a lot better than I initially thought it'd be.
Jun 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, favorites
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.
I felt like this book was trying too hard to be intelligent. For some reason, it was also reminiscent of Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch. The book is about a woman, Catherine, living in a small town near NYC in the mid-1980s. She never much wanted to live there, but did for her husband, a once-promising writer whose career was destroyed by a single review. After he died two or so years ago, she continued to live in the small town and work at a bookstore for a boss who was disrespectful and gave her al ...more
Jun 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good enough beach read....sort of juicy, sort of smart, sort of dark fun but just not quite enough of any of these things.
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
Allison Campbell
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was ok

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 Townill
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mehhh
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Danielle Robertson
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
Jessica Piazza
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really did not enjoy this book. From my perspective it was overwritten.
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Really more like 3.5 stars. The writing was solid, detailed. Well-written, complex characters. The story took several surprising turns. However, by the end I felt the complexity of the story and the notion of a story in a story in a story (in a story? Too many damn writers and stories in this story.) on the affected side. Trying too hard. Overall a good read, perhaps just too dramatic for my taste.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was weird - not good, not bad. An easy read and an interesting story, but not one I’m very satisfied with.
Marnie Zorn
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Didn't finish...
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anna Janelle
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Larry H
Jun 24, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rebeca Schiller
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
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
Cassandra Hemesath
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: would-read-again
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
Christoph Fischer
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"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
Cynthia Archer
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Julie (Bookish.Intoxication)
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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
Jennifer Chow
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Kudos to Algonquin books and editor Chuck Adams for their willingness to publish and champion a book that exposes some unflattering insights into the world of publishing; David Levinson aims a sharp arrow at the critics, industry insiders, academics, the uncelebrated talents and the celebrity authors in this dark and farcical tale. Woven together are the stories and skewed views of two authors, a grief-stricken widow, an arrogant and unscrupulous critic, and two brothers who unwittingly inspired ...more
Delilah Stone
May 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
May 21, 2013 rated it liked 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
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DAVID SAMUEL LEVINSON is the author of the novel, Tell Me How This Ends Well (Hogarth, 4/4/2017); the novel, Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence; and the story collection, Most of Us Are Here Against Our Will. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has received fellowships from Yaddo, the Jentel Foundation, Ledig House, the Santa Fe Arts Institute, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the M ...more