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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

To Die For


Narrators: Joyce Maynard, Michael Crouch,

Piper Goodeve, Carly Robins, Lily Ganser,

Tara Sands, Paul Castro Jr., Lisa Flanagan, Jonathan Davis, Jim Conroy, Will Collyer, Arianna Ratner, Dwayne Hill, Jeff Wiens, , Adam David Thompson

Publisher: Audible Studios

8 hours and 40 minutes

ASIN: B0C4BF6LS8

Publication Date: 06/06/2023

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: 5 Stars


“A seductive page-turner” about a murderously ambitious cable-news star by the New York Times best-selling author of Labor Day (The New York Times Book Review).


Local weather reporter Suzanne Maretto craves nothing more than to transcend life at her suburban cable television news station and follow in the footsteps of her idol: Barbara Walters. When she concludes that her unglamorous husband is getting in the way of her dream of stardom, the solution seems obvious: Get rid of him. She seduces a 15-year-old admirer, Jimmy, and persuades him to do her dirty work. Mission accomplished, Suzanne takes to the airwaves in her new role as grieving widow, in search of a TV deal. If that means selling Jimmy down the river, she’s ready.


Maynard’s brilliant, funny, and groundbreaking novel—adapted by Gus Van Sant into the cult classic movie of the same name, starring Nicole Kidman—was first published in 1992 before the era of manufactured stardom and the phenomenon of televised murder trials as entertainment.


The book still stands as a razor-sharp satire of celebrity-fixated culture and the American obsession with TV—a novel that imagined the phenomenon of reality television before its creation, with alternately bone-chilling and hilarious accuracy.





My Review

Joyce Maynard's (fav author) latest audio version of TO DIE FOR is hilarious, seductive, a highly entertaining satire— full of dark humor, crime, sex, ambition, money, and murder.


No one can tell a re-telling quite like Joyce Maynard! Unsettling in its social commentary, this darkly comedic thriller was inspired by a scandalous 1990 Pamela Smart crime.


AUDIO: Narrated by an entire cast with an award-winning performance making the characters come alive. Told from each POV—each voice is unique, from the main characters, the parents, the teens, the boss, detectives, and the media. I was hooked from the beginning to the end.


Joyce Maynard, Michael Crouch, Piper Goodeve, Carly Robins, Lily Ganser, Tara Sands, Paul Castro Jr., Lisa Flanagan, Jonathan Davis, Jim Conroy, Will Collyer, Arianna Ratner, Dwayne Hill, Jeff Wiens, and Adam David Thompson


A huge Maynard fan not sure how I missed this the first time; however, after listening to the smashing audiobook, I rented the movie on Prime Video and enjoyed it. Suzanne was pure evil.


A 22-year-old Suzanne Maretto, a pathologically self-absorbed, ruthlessly ambitious femme fatale, would-be TV journalist, and the three high school misfits she recruits to kill her husband so she can be free to pursue her chosen career.


"A seductive page-turner" about a murderously ambitious cable news star by the New York Times best-selling author of Labor Day (The New York Times Book Review).


Suzanne Stone Maretto has craved attention since she was a little girl, deciding to be the next Barbara Walters. At 22, she is manipulative, ambitious, and beautiful; she lands a job at a local suburban cable TV news station as a secretary; however, this, of course, is not good enough for her, and she decides to do a documentary of the local high school students.


Set in a small New Hampshire town, To Die For follows Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman), a young, manipulative, ambitious woman with big dreams of being on television.


After marrying Larry Maretto (Matt Dillon) and securing a job reading weather reports at a local news station, Suzanne begins to work on a documentary about teenage life. The project sees her cross paths with local teens Jimmy (Joaquin Phoenix), Russel (Casey Affleck), and Lydia (Alison Folland), and before long, Suzanne's marriage to Larry takes a back seat to her career aspirations.


Deceitful and manipulative, she decides to kill Larry, enlisting the help of her hopelessly naive and impressionable teenage acquaintances. After a media firestorm engulfs the scene, placing Suzanne front and center in the white-hot spotlight of celebrity, a series of revelations brings everything to a screeching halt.


She is married to a good-looking Italian guy, Larry, and an up-and-coming restauranteur from a good family. Suzanne's parents have spoiled her thinking she can do no wrong.


When Larry starts talking about having children and not supporting her ambitions, she decides to get rid of him, telling Jimmy, her new 15-year-old high school lover he is abusing her. Jimmy and his friend Russell set up a pretend robbery to murder him. She selfishly uses the three video documentary students from the local high school and casts them aside.


The deed is done, and now she plays the grieving widow searching for a new TV deal. She sells them all down the river. However, Larry's father knows she did this to his son, and he will make her pay.


Maynard's brilliant, funny, and groundbreaking novel—adapted by Gus Van Sant into the cult classic movie of the same name, starring Nicole Kidman and Matt Dillon—was first published in 1992 before the era of manufactured stardom and the phenomenon of televised murder trials as entertainment.


The book remains a razor-sharp satire of celebrity-fixated culture and the American obsession with TV. This novel imagined the phenomenon of reality television before its creation, with alternately bone-chilling and hilarious accuracy.


When the film was released in 1995, reality TV was still in its early days, but Nicole Kidman's portrayal of a woman obsessed with fame and celebrity is more pertinent now than it was nearly three decades ago. She possesses all the vanity and cynicism that's all too recognizable in our current social media and influencer culture.


If you enjoyed TO DIE FOR, I highly recommend her other audiobook, THE INFLUENCERS (short story based on Gabby Petito true crime) and her latest literary suspense, THE BIRD HOTEL. All five stars!


@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

My Rating: 5 Stars

June 2023 Must-Read Books



INSPIRED BY:

Joyce Maynard's 1992 novel of the same name, was itself inspired by a scandalous real-life crime taking place two years prior. Inspired by the story of Pamela Smart, a Communication major out of Florida State University, she married Gregory Smart in 1989.She relocated to New Hampshire, aspiring to work in television as the next Barbara Walters.


After taking a media coordination position with one of the state's school districts, Smart's marriage began deteriorating when she learned of her husband's infidelity, and she soon entered into an affair with a 15-year-old student, Billy Flynn.


Then, on May 1, 1990, the lifeless body of Gregory Smart was discovered in the couple's condo, with police suspecting he'd been murdered during a burglary. After a highly-publicized trial, Pamela Smart was convicted for her involvement in Gregory Smart's murder on March 22, 1991. She received a life sentence and was eventually transferred to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York. For their part, the four teenagers who participated in Smart's murder were ultimately paroled. READ MORE




About the Author



A native of New Hampshire, Joyce Maynard began publishing her stories in magazines when she was thirteen years old. She first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story, “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life”, in 1972, when she was a freshman at Yale.


Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in over fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to NPR and national magazines including Vogue, The New York Times Magazine, and many more, and a longtime performer with The Moth.


Maynard is the author of seventeen books, including the novel To Die For and the best-selling memoir, At Home in the World—translated into sixteen languages. Her novel, To Die For was adapted for the screen by Buck Henry for a film directed by Gus Van Sant , in which Joyce can be seen in the role of Nicole Kidman’s lawyer.. Her novel Labor Day was adapted and directed by Jason Reitman for a film starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, to whom Joyce offered instruction for making the pie that appeared in a crucial scene in the film.


The mother of three grown children, Maynard runs workshops in memoir at her home in Lafayette California. In 2002 she founded The Lake Atitlan Writing Workshop in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala, where she hosts a weeklong workshop in personal storytelling every winter.


She is a fellow of The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo.




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