Great Wide Open
Douglas Kennedy

Book cover image

Narrated By: Regina Reagan

Duration: 19 hours and 29 minutes

What to expect

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of The Great Wide Open written by Douglas Kennedy, read by Regina Reagan.

“All families are secret societies. Realms of intrigue and internal warfare, governed by their own rules . . .”

It’s 1980s New York. Heady, excessive times. Alice Burns - a young book editor - is deep into a manuscript about the morass of family life. The observations resonates, perhaps because she has just watched her own family implode.

As she reads she wonders: When did the sadness start? And could it be that unhappiness is a choice?

Thus begins a great American epic which follows Alice as she navigates high school bullying, first love and sexism at an elite college, a spell in 1970's Ireland, and a tragedy that sends her stateside as the US embraces a cowboy actor named Reagan. But it is also the tale of her endlessly complex parents and brothers; how their destinies are written by the lies they tell themselves and others.

The Great Wide Open is an immensely ambitious and compulsive saga; a novel which will speak volumes to anyone who has marvelled at that pain that can only be caused by family itself.


Modern & contemporary fiction

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Kennedy is skilled at zigzag plotting, blending domestic twists with turns created by global affairs.


This novel is a page-turner with a relentless pace

The Times

Has a strangely mesmerising effect . . . absolutely excellent.

New Statesman

An ambitious tale from a reliably compelling story teller.

Sunday Mirror

Douglas Kennedy sensitively engages with issues that still affect America to this day and creates a story with realism and heart