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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Whispers

Narrator: Jill Winternitz

Penguin Audio

ISBN: 978-1984881694

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Publication Date: 06/06/2023

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars

A propulsive page-turner about four suburban families whose lives are changed when the unthinkable happens—and what is lost when good people make unconscionable choices

With The Push, Ashley Audrain gave us a transgressive, bestselling novel about motherhood. Now she delves into the secretive world of suburban women who hide dark truths, and the devastating incident that ties them together.

On Harlow Lane, several well-to-do neighborhood couples and their children gather for a catered barbecue as the summer winds down; drinks continue late into the night. Everything is fabulous until the picture-perfect hostess catches her son disobeying her, and soon everyone at the party hears her exquisite veneer crack—loud and clear. Before long, that same child falls from his bedside window and is rushed to the hospital in a coma. The story spins out over the course of one week, in the alternating voices of three women as they face what led to what happened one terrible night.

Exploring the intuitions that we silence, the complexities of our closest friendships, the danger of envy, and what happens when we put our needs ahead of our children’s, The Whispers is another stunning novel that marks Audrain as a major women's fiction talent.

My Review

Ashley Audrain returns following her smashing debut, The Push (5 stars), with her sophomore novel, THE WHISPERS —a gripping and emotional page-turner centered around four families—the choices they make, and the way their lives are changed and connected.

What starts as a carefree summer backyard party on Harlow Street with all the perfect picture families in the neighborhood. Four families are enjoying this lively party hosted by Whitney and Jacob Loverly.

Then all comes to a halt when the hostess, Whitney, explodes in a fury of rage when her 10 yr old son, Xavier, disobeys her. The window is open for all to hear the dirty laundry.

Shortly thereafter, he falls from his bedroom window in the middle of the night. Now she sits next to him in a hospital room.

Rebecca, one of the neighbors at the party, was on call when Xavier was brought into the emergency room in a coma; she is concerned. She also holds secrets.

What happened? Was he pushed, an accident, or did he jump? Everyone has their opinions. Everyone wants to understand what happened.

Readers hear from four women who reside in this suburban neighborhood whose lives intersect differently. They all have hidden secrets.

The unraveling of four families on this street as they grapple with this tragic event.

Whitney: A working parent. She has it all, or so it seems. She is not there for her kids full-time.

Blair: Stay-at-home mom who feels taken for granted and underappreciated.

Rebecca: A doctor. Desperately wants a baby with miscarriages.

Mara: An elderly mother with a lot of guilt. She sees all but often invisible to others.

As Audrain so eloquently explored in her first book, she explores women and mothers, their emotions, their choices, and what unfolds when pushed to the brink in their desperation to be the perfect mother.

Beautifully written, raw, emotional, and brutally honest, we learn these women's hidden desires, wants, pressures, abuses, struggles, sacrifices, needs, guilt, secrets, and shame.

The novel explores motherhood, jealousy, marriage, miscarriage, infidelity, affairs, spousal abuse, verbal child abuse, bullying, and more.

THE WHISPERS is a shocking, drama-filled, thought-provoking, gripping literary/domestic suspense! You will turn the pages quickly and wonder when and if the secrets will be revealed. A jaw-dropping final twist!

The author has a gift for writing about things that are not always comfortable but realistic and relatable. What goes on behind closed doors? Audrain fans are going to love THE WHISPERS as much as THE PUSH.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

My Rating: 5 Stars


"The Whispers is spellbinding, a shimmering, visceral ride…Nobody delves as deep into the guts of motherhood as Ashley Audrain, she really is in a league of her own."

—Lisa Jewell, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Family Remains

“Enticing, nuanced, and unflinching, The Whispers opens a secret portal into the private lives of women in suburbia.”

—Nita Prose, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Maid

“No one understands the secret lives of women like Ashley Audrain. In her electrifying new novel, The Whispers, the unspoken fears, desires, and shame of four neighbors threaten the lives they've so carefully constructed. It's a razor-sharp page-turner. Masterful!”

—Carley Fortune, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Every Summer After

“Riveting… a fearless deep dive into the real internal lives of women. The Whispers is a brilliant, deeply affecting novel you won’t soon forget.”

—Shari Lapena, New York Times bestselling author of Everyone Here Is Lying

“The Whispers is a masterwork: a page-turner, a searing emotional rollercoaster and a beautifully-written hymn to the pain, the love, the fury of motherhood. I could think about nothing but Ashley Audrain’s perfectly-drawn characters in the three days it took me to tear through this novel, and I suspect they will live on in my mind for a long time to come. Sensational.”

—Rosie Walsh, New York Times bestselling author of The Love of My Life

“Driven by desire, jealousy and revenge, everyone is under suspicion and guilty of something in this powerful, edgy and addictive novel by the queen of psychological drama, Ashley Audrain. An honest, uncensored look at women and motherhood in the wake of a mysterious tragedy, The Whispers is a must-read.”

—Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Just the Nicest Couple

“Ashley Audrain writes about motherhood and how it feels to be a woman today with a fearlessness few can muster. Every time I turned a page, I thought: yes! This is why I read--to connect, to feel seen, to be confronted with my deepest fears, and, of course, to go on a breathtakingly suspenseful ride while doing it.”

—Chandler Baker, New York Times bestselling author of The Husbands

“The Whispers is a chilling story and a beautifully observed exploration of what it means to be a woman, highlighting the sacrifices involved and the often frightening choices that have to be made. The knowledge that something awful is looming lends the narrative a compelling sense of unease that builds to a thickening dread as Audrain ratchets up the tension. A quietly revelatory and unnerving novel that works on so many levels—I couldn’t put it down.”

—Sarah Pearse, New York Times bestselling author of The Retreat

"Ashley Audrain has a profound understanding of how thin the line between good and evil can be. The Whispers leads readers past the carefully composed facade of Harlow Street to dig, unflinchingly, into themes of motherhood, fidelity, privilege and complicity, resulting in a novel that not only delivers on the promise of its taut, explosive and page-turning plot—but redefines the very idea of what a thriller is and can be. Daring, incisive, and exquisitely written, Audrain has proven herself a force like no other."

—Courtney Summers, New York Times bestselling author of Sadie

"Audrain takes a deep dive into the secret lives of women in this standout work of literary suspense...The novel soars via Audrain’s clever revelations of the ways her protagonists’ lives are linked in ways they never suspected. Both artful and pulse pounding, this isn’t easily shaken."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"The Toronto-based writer has cornered the market on stories about the dark side of motherhood."


“Ashley Audrain returns with evocative questions about motherhood and desire, examining the things we sacrifice for our children—and the things we don’t. Populated with characters that feel like your own neighbors, The Whispers is a heart-stopping read.”

—Danya Kukafka, bestselling author of Notes on an Execution

“The magic of Ashley Audrain's fiction lies in her ability to capture motherhood's darkest and most difficult moments. In Audrain's universe there are no good or bad mothers, there are just women… struggling to do their best.… I saw myself in every word of this novel.”

—Joanna Rakoff, bestselling author of The Fifth Passenger

“I couldn’t put The Whispers down. It held me by my throat the entire way and left me in awe of Audrain’s talent and her ability to put the female experience so ruthlessly, so painfully and so beautifully into words. She is exceptional at her craft, one of the best, and her work should be read religiously and consistently by all. I can’t recommend this book enough.”

—Salma El-Wardany, author of These Impossible Things

“Ashley Audrain is the master of simmering resentment and paranoia, mental load and motherhood. This slow-burn thriller is gripping and horrifying and with a perfectly shocking ending. It's going to be huge, absolutely unmissable.”

—Catherine Cooper, bestselling author of The Chateau

“A beautifully written, twisty and thought-provoking novel about the demands of modern women, motherhood and how our own past shapes us. The Whispers is packed with suspense, tension and unforgettable characters and I couldn’t read it fast enough. I adored it!”

—Claire Douglas, author of The Girls Who Disappeared

From the Author

I’m so excited to share this beautiful North American cover, and a bit more about the book…

It opens at an end-of-summer backyard party on Harlow Street, where the well-to-do families in the neighbourhood are mingling over drinks. Everything is going perfectly, just as the hostess planned, until she explodes in a fury of rage when her son disobeys her—and everyone hears her exquisite veneer crack. Soon after, that same young boy falls from his bedroom window in the middle of the night. His mother can only sit by her son’s hospital bed, where she refuses to speak to anyone, including her best friend who lives across the street.

The novel then follows the unravelling of the four families on this street, as they try to understand what happened that night, and what secrets are being kept between these friends and neighbours, ones that connect them all in ways they don’t know.

In The Push, I wrote about the darker side of motherhood, and in The Whispers, I wanted to explore that same kind of darkness, but in the lives of women who are questioning the choices they’ve made, and facing feelings of envy in friendships because of that. I’m interested in women’s intuition about themselves and their lives, the voices that we may choose to ignore because the truth feels dangerous to hear. I also wanted to write about female anger and desire, and why both of these emotions feel so shameful, especially for mothers.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading The Whispers as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. You can pre-order now at your favourite bookseller!

Praise for The Push:

“Hooks you from the very first page and will have you racing to get to the end.”

—Good Morning America

“Starkly original and compulsively readable.”

—Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author

About the Author

Photo by Barbara Stoneham

ASHLEY AUDRAIN previously worked as the publicity director of Penguin Books Canada. Prior to Penguin, she worked in public relations. She is a graduate of the Media, Information & Technoculture program at Western University. She lives in Toronto, where she and her partner are raising their two young children. The Push is her first novel. WEBSITE







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