Astray by Emma Donoghue

Cover of Astray

Astray by Emma Donoghue

Published by: Little, Brown & Company

Published on: October 20, 2012

Page Count: 288

Genre: Short Stories

My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com using a monthly credit

Audiobook Published by: Hachette Audio

Narrators: Khristine Hvam, James Langton, Robert Petkoff, Suzanne Toren, and Dion Graham

Audiobook Length: 6 hours 31 minutes

Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook

Summary from the Publisher:

The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue’s stories have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters, lovers old and new. They are gold miners and counterfeiters, attorneys and slaves. They cross other borders too: those of race, law, sex, and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress.

With rich historical detail, the celebrated author of Room takes us from puritan Massachusetts to revolutionary New Jersey, antebellum Louisiana to the Toronto highway, lighting up four centuries of wanderings that have profound echoes in the present. Astray offers us a surprising and moving history for restless times.

My Review

I am not a regular reader of short stories. I loved them when I was a student. I especially loved Nathaniel Hawthorne. Since I graduated from college, I’ve not read them very frequently at all. The few times I’ve read short story collections in print have fallen flat. I am not sure if it is because I’ve fallen out of the practice of reading short fiction or if I haven’t picked up the right short fiction. Either way, since I’ve discovered audiobooks it’s opened the door to short stories once again. As I first discovered with You Know When the Men Are Gone, audiobooks are a perfect medium for short stories for me. This certainly was the case with Emma Donoghue’s well crafted and unique short stories. For the most part, each story was the perfect length for one or two legs of my daily commute. It’s never a hardship to remember my place in an audiobook from car ride to car ride, but having something new yet connected in theme to the previous story made for a compelling listen.

Unlike You Know When the Men are GoneAstray was narrated by several different narrators. I have good previous listening experience with James Langton, Robert Petkoff, and Dion Graham. Their work in Astray continued to impress me. To two female narrators, Khristine Hvam and Suzanne Toren were pleasant new discoveries. Although some of the narrators worked on more than one story, there is one story that each worked on that has stuck with me since I’ve listened in April. Hachette Audio produces audiobooks of excellent quality and Astray is an excellent example.

I was unsure of what to expect when I started Astray. My only other experience with Emma Donoghue was with Room. Room was an intense reading experience to say the least. This book made me appreciate Emma Donoghue’s writing even more. She is a gifted writer and has a wonderful imagination. While each of the stories in this collection is about being or going off the chartered course, the stories themselves are not related to each other. At the same time, they firmly belong together. They each stand alone yet complement each other like loving siblings. I was impressed with the way Donoghue took snippets of historical facts and wrote some of the most compelling stories I’ve ever read. I looked forward to the factual information that Donoghue provided at the end of each story just as much as I did the next story in the collection.  Most of all, I was disappointed when the audiobook ended.

Astray would make an excellent introduction into the world of audiobooks. Each of the five narrators provide a nice sample of different styles and the stories will keep you listening, a help for those who have difficulties concentrating on audio. I thoroughly enjoyed Astray and I think just about anyone else would, too.


  • At 2013.09.03 05:10, Melinda said:

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one! I’ve never “read”(listened) to an audio book, so I’m not so sure about it. I might consider this one!

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    • At 2013.09.03 07:56, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

      The fact that you were disappointed when it ended speaks volumes to me. I like short stories and don’t read them enough.

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      • At 2013.09.03 08:55, Alison's Book Marks said:

        I’m not sure what rock I was living under when Astray was published last year, but I’m so glad you reviewed it today! I am a fan of short stories that are pulled together by a common thread, but these still look like something I would enjoy!

        • At 2013.09.03 11:33, Ellison Weist said:

          This one has been on my watch list for a while. So glad you reviewed it. I love short story collections. Is it my imagination or are they coming back into vogue? If you’re looking for another great collection, check out Ron Rash’s latest, NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY.

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          • At 2014.06.09 04:01, Monday Mini ~ Frog Music by Emma Donoghue said:

            […] year I listened to Emma Donoghue’s Astray because it got such glowing recommendations, especially from Jen at Devourer of Books. It’s a […]

            (Required, will not be published)

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