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

Living by Ear

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Singer-songwriter Christine Daley was a Boston celebrity with a local radio hit in the 1990s, but she took a short career break to marry and have kids. Now, sixteen years later, she’s a frustrated suburban housewife, still on break. So Chris files for divorce and attempts to reestablish her own rhythms, both in music and in love. Her two teenagers, however—who are facing s ...more
Paperback, 332 pages
Published February 6th 2013 by Semicolon Press
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 Living by Ear, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Living by Ear

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  99 ratings  ·  31 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Living by Ear
Nov 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Living by Ear is a wonderful story that is about a woman who strives to reestablish her music career and balance the needs of her family after getting a divorce. Set in Boston and told in the first person narrative, and alternating between the present and flashbacks to the 1990s, the reader follows the journey of Christine Daley as she rediscovers who she is and what she wants after being a suburban housewife for the past sixteen years.

Back in the 1990s, Christine Daley was a struggling Boston s
Terry Tyler
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd never come across Mary Rowen before but I read a very interesting interview with her on A Woman's Wisdom blog, thought this book looked good and downloaded it straight away. I just had a quick look at it to see what it was like, thinking I'd get to it at some point over the next couple of months - but I just kept reading it!

Ms Rowen is a terrific writer, so talented. I loved every bit of this, there were no boring bits to skip read, no sections that sounded a bit contrived or unfeasible, and
Jennifer S. Brown
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is such a fun, fabulous read, I definitely recommend it! The author is a friend and she gave me a copy of this book. I thank her heartily for it, because it's really a terrific read.

The story centers on Chris Daley, a woman in the process of divorce. She spent her younger life as a busker on the streets of Boston (and Boston folks will get a kick out of visiting lots of familiar locations), but she gave it all up to become a suburban mom. Now, with two teenaged kids who are struggling
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
I always quake when someone I know asks me to read a novel she wrote. Will I like it? What will I say if I don't? I didn't have to worry with Living by Ear, which I read in three large gulps. Mary's characters definitely came to life, especially the protagonist, Chris. I loved the music references and the setting in Boston and suburbs, much of which I could recognize - from Alewife to Boston Common, and the Starbucks in "Elkington Center" - been there. I found myself wanting a little more plot d ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The brilliantly drawn and animated characters in this novel feel like people living down the street in your own neighborhood, but who knew that your neighbors could have such rich pasts and inner lives? And who knows what unexpectedly satisfying futures are just around the corner?
It's hard to say much without spoiling the story, and I hate finding out too much when I read a review, so I will just say, this story of coming of age again and again will resonate with every woman, wife, mother, frie
Kathleen Dayan
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Living by Ear is a lovely, lyrical novel that tells the story of a musician who has put her career on hold to raise a family and her determination to return to the music scene in her mid-40s. On some level it is a position that most women can identify with. Chris Daley, the protagonist, is a likeable, relatable character who tells her story like she is talking to a friend in an easy and enjoyable conversation. I personally like a novel with a strong voice, and I found that here. Beautifully and ...more
Paulita Kincer
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Living By Ear caught my attention right away. I could relate to the main character, although there were times I wished she would stand up for herself more. As a mother of teenagers,I could relate to many of the life complications and sacrifices that the main character faced and I cheered for her as she began to find her way.
Suzanne Hall
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It had a calm, authentic voice, with entirely believable characters and a great plot line. I was sad to see it draw to a conclusion because the reading experience was so soothing and enjoyable. I wanted to continue on with the protagonists journey.

Satisfying, compelling, and original.

Loved it. Please write more!
Joanne Horgan
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very satisfying read!!! Characters are really well developed. The story moved quickly and was very relatable for women of all ages! Solid first novel by this author....would love to read another
Ashley Hackney
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Loved the characters and the story. Felt like it ended when I still wanted more!
Jenni Sinclaire
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Living by Ear tells the story of Chris, a woman in her 40s, as she reaches a turning-point in her life. Her marriage is ending, her children are growing up, and she longs to resume the music career she suspended years ago when she started a family.

The characterisation in this book is definitely one of its biggest strengths. Rowen has a talent for getting deeply into a character's head, which I felt made Chris a very relatable protagonist. The other characters are also complex and memorable - Chr
Nikki Barrett
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a music fanatic, so when I saw this book pop up I knew I had to join the tour. Living By Ear is not just a story about music, it's a story about life, struggle, and finding your muse in the midst of everything falling apart.

Christine is ready for some major changes in her life, but they all seem to hit her at once. Obstacle after obstacle hits her as she tries to embrace her new life and what she can do with it now. In a world where everything changes, adjustments are must but they aren't ea
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a snapshot in the life of Chris, a mum who gave up a promising music career to raise her family. Despite the lack of support from her would-be Senator, soon-to-be ex-husband she decides to try and rekindle the interest in her music and sets out to try various ways of getting back in the game. Everything she tries is marred in some way by her meddling husband and life itself but talent will always find a way, won't it?

Chris's story could be one of many women who have put their own wishes
Jen Gilbert
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Living by Ear is one of those books that changes how you view people you come across in real life forever. I will never pass someone playing music on the streets without thinking about this book. It was creative and interesting and I literally read it in a day. It made my heart ache as a mother. And it made me want to pick up the instrument sitting on the shelf in my closet and take it for a little practice. I’ve read two books by this author and I’m a fan for life. I’ll never pass up the opport ...more
Samantha March
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received a review copy
I think I’ve said this plenty of times in my reviews, but I love when I connect with books that I don’t expect to. I was curious about the story from reading the blurb and I thought the cover was fascinating, but I connected with Chris on a level that I didn’t see coming. Her story is real and has depth and was so well-written by Rowen. There isn’t any gimmicks, any outlandish scenes or jaw-dropping moments, just smooth transitions between past and present as we follow Ch
Betsy Hover
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was delighted to receive this book from Goodreads Giveaways!

Christine, a middle aged mom who is trying to reconnect with her true self. Former celebrity with a local radio hit in the 1990s, but she took a short career break to marry and have kids. After several changes in her life, she is trying to navigate and figure-out her new life.

I would recommend this book and Any music fan will enjoy this book too.
Apr 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Fans of the Boston area will enjoy the landmarks making regular appearances throughout this little confection of a book. Not too heavy, not too light. This book was a read that was "just right." ...more
Susan Pratt
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Chris Daley struggles to keep her "sense of self" and her music alive as she marries a Lawyer/want to be senator. After 2 kids, years of marriage and a pending divorce she tries to get back to her roots. This was a quick, easy read and the characters ring true. ...more
Barbara Brannon
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
An evocative portrait of the conflicts of a musician and mother in midlife crisis. I enjoyed the depictions of the Boston music scene from the 1980s to now . . . and the struggles of an artist to maintain her integrity amid family pressures, personal ambition, and a changing industry.
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great book - by an Arlington mom! I flew through this one.... :)
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, 2017
I actually had a very difficult time deciding how I wanted to rate this book. I did enjoy reading it and many aspects of the book felt very realistic in both the emotions and the situations that evolve throughout. However, I had a very difficult time connecting with Chris. Yes, her ex-husband was a jerk in more ways than one and he wronged her in so many ways. However, she made the decisions and choices that she made as well and I felt like she needed to completely own those so she could move fo ...more
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story. Chris is such a good mom and sacrificed so long got her kids. So glad that in the end she removed the toxic people from her life, realized the important friendships and was able to pursue her passion. Story is as very believable. [some swearing]
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Living by Ear

Whether you are a music lover or not, you will appreciate this insightful and inspirational novel.

Thank you, Mary Rowan for writing Living by Ear and thank you, Bruce Springsteen for writing the lyrics and recording Working on a Dream which won the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo.

This story is about a dream and not giving up.

Living by Ear begins in 1992 in the Boston area and its main character, Chris Daley, is a young, very talented busker. Music is her who
Angela Risner
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it
This is Mary Rowen's first novel.

Living by Ear finds Christine (Chris) going through a divorce after being married to Mr. Attorney-at-Law who wants to be a politician. Chris met her soon-to-be ex when she was in her 20s, "busking" for a living. I had no idea what that meant, but it turns out it's what street performers are doing. Chris was a singer/songwriter on the rise, but her new husband wanted her to stay home with their kids. After sixteen years of putting her career on hold for her famil
Connie Mayo
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having very much enjoyed Rowen's other book, Leaving the Beach, I picked this one up as an encore. And although I liked the Leaving the Beach's bulemic, wacky, delusional but endearing protagonist slightly more than more pedestrian (sort of) suburban mom protagonist of this book, the writing style I enjoyed in the first book was also present in the second. For me, there is a Wackiness Scale for characters: If you are not wacky enough, you may bore me, but if you are too wacky, I can't relate to ...more
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mary Rowen's novel, Living by Ear, is a work of literary fiction, but like all the best books, resonates with authenticity and heart. Anybody that has ever had to put aside their hopes and ambitions to take care of someone else will be struck deeply by Rowen's protagonist, Christine.

On the verge of breaking into a national career, Boston busker (or street musician), Christine puts her musical ambitions on hold to marry and have children. Though she aches to tend to her dried up ambitions, Christ
Nov 25, 2014 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I really liked how this moves randomly between chapters set in the present day and at previous times in Chris’s life – you’d never know where or when you’d be reading about in the next one. It didn’t seem slow or predictable or like it dragged at all. And maybe I’ve read too many books but so many seem like they’ve one or all of those problems to me lately. So Living by Ear was a refreshing change for me.

Living By Ear was very enjoyable and it kept me reading because I had questions and wanted t
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: woman-s-lit
The only reason I'm not giving this five stars is because I found the ending a tad abrupt. Other than that I really enjoyed this. I read it in one sitting all huddled up under my blankets. The author does a great job utilizing flash back, which are usually not my favorite thing. I really liked the main character, she was strong when she needed to be, and I really loved the idea that there is no age limit on living your dreams.

Pam Shank
Jul 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: romances, life-novels
3 1/2 stars. It's nice to read a romance with middle aged characters for a change ...more
Mary Martin
This was more a 2.5. I just couldn't relate to the characters. I did like the references to Boston and surrounding places with which I am familiar. ...more
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
tips on crowd funding 1 1 Oct 02, 2013 11:12AM  
Carapace Prize fo...: New Nomination! Living by Ear 7 10 Jun 25, 2013 01:08PM  
Books, Blogs, Aut...: Looking for a good summer read? 1 10 Jun 24, 2013 10:08AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The City and the Stars
  • The Sands of Mars
  • The Three Musketeers (The D'Artagnan Romances, #1)
  • Men Like Gods
  • The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again
  • The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance
  • The Annals of the Heechee (Heechee Saga, #4)
  • The Letter (Comfort Crossing #3)
  • Say You'll Stay (The Hennington Brothers, #1)
  • The Secret Ingredient
  • High Stakes (O'Neil Family, #4)
  • The Woman Who Kept Everything
  • Accelerated Learning Techniques
  • Runway Zero-Eight
  • Not Quite Dating (Not Quite, #1)
  • Healed: Stone and Pepper (Cliffside Bay, #7)
  • The Montana Bride (Marvells of Montana, #1)
  • The Sentence is Death (Hawthorne and Horowitz Mystery, #2)
See similar books…
Mary Rowen is a Boston area mom with a wonderful family that allows her time to write almost every day.
She grew up in the Massachusetts Merrimack Valley and graduated from Providence College. She has worked as a writer, teacher, salesperson, and political canvasser.

Related Articles

Jennifer Weiner is the author of many bestsellers, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and Mrs. Everything. She's also a contributing opinion...
97 likes · 27 comments