A Novel

Alice McDermott; Read by Kate Reading

Macmillan Audio

A fully realized portrait of one woman’s life in all its complexity, by the National Book Award–winning author

An ordinary life—its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion—lived by an ordinary woman: this is the subject of Someone, Alice McDermott’s extraordinary return, seven years after the publication of After This. Scattered recollections—of childhood, adolescence, motherhood, old age—come together in this transformative narrative, stitched into a vibrant whole by McDermott’s deft, lyrical voice.
     Our first glimpse of Marie is as a child: a girl in glasses waiting on a Brooklyn stoop for her beloved father to come home from work. A seemingly innocuous encounter with a young woman named Pegeen sets the bittersweet tone of this remarkable novel. Pegeen describes herself as an “amadan,” a fool; indeed, soon after her chat with Marie, Pegeen tumbles down her own basement stairs. The magic of McDermott’s novel lies in how it reveals us all as fools for this or that, in one way or another.
     Marie’s first heartbreak and her eventual marriage; her brother’s brief stint as a Catholic priest, subsequent loss of faith, and eventual breakdown; the Second World War; her parents’ deaths; the births and lives of Marie’s children; the changing world of her Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn—McDermott sketches all of it with sympathy and insight. This is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived; a crowning achievement by one of the finest American writers at work today.
Publishers Weekly Best Fiction Book of the Year

A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013

A New York Times Notable Book of 2013
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of 2013
An NPR Best Book of 2013
Includes a bonus interview with Alice McDermott and her editor Jonathan Galassi

Program features original music composed specifically for the novel:
Beginnings (W. Armstrong/traditional) • You Don’t Want to Go Into New York City (W. Armstrong) • It Is All Solved by Walking (W. Armstrong)


Read an Excerpt

Pegeen Chehab walked up from the subway in the evening light. Her good spring coat was powder blue; her shoes were black and covered the insteps of her long feet. Her hat was beige with something dark along the crown, a brown feather or two. There was a certain asymmetry to her shoulders. She had a loping, hunchbacked walk. She had, always, a bit of black hair along her cheek, straggling to her shoulder, her bun coming undone. She carried her purse in the lightest clasp of her fingers, down along the side of her leg, which made her seem listless and weary even as she


Praise for Someone

“An excellent performance. Kate Reading makes the range of emotions entirely believable.” – Publisher’s Weekly


“McDermott’s nuanced writing turns the mundane into poetry. Kate Reading’s narration fits perfectly.” – AudioFile


“Kate Reading narrates the story in a smooth, easy voice and takes great care to match McDermott’s pacing and to highlight her lyrical writing. She has created a fitting ode to McDermott’s luminous novel.” – Booklist

Praise for the print edition of Someone:

“In this deceptively simple tour de force, McDermott . . . lays bare the keenly observed life of Marie Commeford, an ordinary woman whose compromised eyesight makes her both figuratively and literally unable to see the world for what it is . . . We come to feel for this unremarkable woman, whose vulnerability makes her all the more winning—and makes her worthy of our attention. And that’s why McDermott, a three-time Pulitzer nominee, is such an exceptional writer: in her hands, an uncomplicated life becomes singularly fascinating, revealing the heart of a woman whose defeats make us ache and whose triumphs we cheer. Marie’s vision (and ours) eventually clears, and she comes to understand that what she so often failed to see lay right in front of her eyes.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“One of the author’s most trenchant explorations into the heart and soul of the 20th-century Irish-American family . . . Marie’s straightforward narration is interrupted with occasional jumps back and forward in time that create both a sense of foreboding and continuity as well as a mediation on the nature of sorrow . . . Marie and Gabe are compelling in their basic goodness, as is McDermott’s elegy to a vanished world.” —Kirkus

“Readers who love refined, unhurried, emotionally fluent fiction will rejoice at National Book Award–winner McDermott’s return. McDermott . . . is a master of hidden intensities, intricate textures, spiked dialogue, and sparkling wit. We first meet Marie at age seven, when she’s sitting on the stoop in her tight-knit, Irish-Catholic Brooklyn neighborhood, waiting for her father to come home from work. Down the street, boys play stickball, consulting with dapper Billy, their blind umpire, an injured WWI vet. Tragedies and scandals surge through the enclave, providing rough initiations into sex and death . . . A marvel of subtle modulations, McDermott’s keenly observed, fluently humane, quietly enthralling novel of conformity and selfhood, of ‘lace-curtain pretensions’ as shield and camouflage, celebrates family, community, and ‘the grace of a shared past.’” —Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred)

Praise for Child of My Heart

“There is the temptation, after reading Alice McDermott, to read nothing else for the longest time—to hold every exquisite word of her most exquisite novels in your head . . . That she exercises patience, compassion and wisdom where others emphasize strut, that she trusts herself with the power of scenes over the inflated intricacies of complicated plot. There is the temptation to use the word ‘genius’ in association with McDermott’s name.” —Beth Kephart, The Baltimore Sun

“[A] wondrous new novel . . . Child of My Heart extends [McDermott’s] artistic triumphs, and we should rejoyce.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“A master . . . As good as any literary novelist writing today, and when I say that I include the big guns: Russell Banks, Philip Roth, Toni Morrison . . . All [McDermott's] books mirror the essential truths of existence so sure-handedly that they are neither comedies nor tragedies, but merely true.” —Anna Quindlen

“Has something classic about it . . . [Its] craftsmanship and its moral intelligence are as one . . . Immaculate.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Richly textured, intricately woven . . . A work not only of, but about, the imagination.” —Margaret Atwood, The New York Review of Books

“In a league of her own.” —People

“We have echoes and stirrings of Hardy, Shakespeare, Dickens, James, Beatrix Potter, Christina Rosetti . . . [Theresa] is a vessel containing a multitude of heroines, a transcendence of ethereal beauties who loved and live in the minds of their readers and inventors.” —Chicago Tribune

“[A] quietly enchanting novel, graced by McDermott's well-calibrated writing and observant eye . . . Filled with subtle truths and hard-won wisdom.” —The Charlotte Observer

In the Press

Alice McDermott's New Novel, 'Someone' - NYTimes.com
Alice McDermott's new novel, "Someone," follows an ordinary girl from an Irish-American family through the milestones of her life.
- The New York Times
Book review: ‘Someone’ by Alice McDermott - Books - The Boston Globe
bove the funeral parlor, the old women gather, talking about the dead: whose body is being prepared in the basement, who is being waked upstairs, whose family has called, newly requiring in need of services. an undertakerA lifetime at at its end needs careful remembering, neither sentimental nor cruel
- The Boston Globe
Review of ‘Someone,’ latest novel by Alice McDermott - The Washington Post
A new masterpiece from the National Book Award-winning author of “Charming Billy.”
- The Washington Post
'Someone,' by Alice McDermott - SFGate
K, I know young people are also dealing with diminished job prospects and a stalled economy, but - come on - enough of this self-regarding mix of self-indulgence and self-pity. A teenage neighbor suddenly drops dead; a bride is jilted; her best friend's mother dies in childbirth. McDermott's spot-on description of her reaction makes room not only for pathos but comedy: Of course, I had seen women nursing babies. ... Marie's blue-collar world of laundry on the fire escape and stickball on the streets will
- San Francisco Chronicle
Book Review: 'Someone,' By Alice McDermott : NPR
Reviewer Susan Jane Gilman wasn't impressed by the title of Someone, but she says Alice McDermott's novel is nowhere near as generic as its name. Nothing extraordinary happens to the Irish-American protagonist, but with spare poetry and deep compassion, McDermott makes familiar territory seem new.
Alice McDermott's snapshots of a woman in 'Someone' - latimes.com
'Someone,' Alice McDermott's new novel, follows Marie from childhood forward in a normal life related extraordinarily.
- Los Angeles Times
'Someone,' by Alice McDermott - NYTimes.com
Alice McDermott's novel centers on an ordinary life, as captured in scattered recollections.
- The New York Times

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Alice McDermott; Read by Kate Reading

  • Alice McDermott is the author of six previous novels, including After This; Child of My Heart; Charming Billy, winner of the 1998 National Book Award; and At Weddings and Wakes, all published by FSG. That Night, At Weddings and Wakes, and After This were all finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. McDermott lives with her family outside Washington, D.C.

  • Alice McDermott Epic Photography/Jamie Schoenberger
  • Kate Reading
    Kate Reading




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A Novel

Alice McDermott; Read by Kate Reading

National Book Awards - Longlist, Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year, New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year, Washington Post Best Books of the Year, Chicago Tribune Best Books of the Year, Seattle Times Best Books of the Year, Barnes and Noble Best New Books of the Year, Apple iBooks Best of the Year, National Book Critics Circle Awards - Nominee


Macmillan Audio