To Be Sung Underwater: A Novel

( 77 )

Overview

Judith Whitman always believed in the kind of love that "picks you up in Akron and sets you down in Rio." Long ago, she once experienced that love. Willy Blunt was a carpenter with a dry wit and a steadfast sense of honor. Marrying him seemed like a natural thing to promise. But Willy Blunt was not a person you could pick up in Nebraska and transport to Stanford. When Judith left home, she didn't look back.

Twenty years later, Judith's marriage is hazy with secrets. In her hand ...

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Overview

Judith Whitman always believed in the kind of love that "picks you up in Akron and sets you down in Rio." Long ago, she once experienced that love. Willy Blunt was a carpenter with a dry wit and a steadfast sense of honor. Marrying him seemed like a natural thing to promise. But Willy Blunt was not a person you could pick up in Nebraska and transport to Stanford. When Judith left home, she didn't look back.

Twenty years later, Judith's marriage is hazy with secrets. In her hand is what may be the phone number for the man who believed she meant it when she said she loved him. If she called, what would he say?

TO BE SUNG UNDERWATER is the epic love story of a woman trying to remember, and the man who could not even begin to forget.

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Editorial Reviews

Cynthia Crossen
An exceptional novel.... McNeal writes a kind of prose that's almost endangered today: natural, smooth and subtle.
The Wall Street Journal
Susan Salter Reynolds
Love stories have a terrible gravity, a centrifugal force. McNeal has created characters so dimensional, so memorable, that we are caught up in that urgency. Our rationality is compromised; the rules of the world fade away.
Los Angeles Times
Caroline Leavitt
Hypnotic .... so vividly written that it takes you to a place where all your perceptions seem dizzyingly altered. Which is, of course, exactly like love itself.
Washington Post
Carrie Keyes
McNeal's ability to tell the story from a female point of view is shockingly accurate, as is his Richard Russo-esque ability to make small town characters simply complicated....a beautiful novel that bravely examines the effect a broken relationship can have on one's life path.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Sarah Willis
Bautifully written.... a compelling story, uniting the literary, character-driven novel with what eventually becomes quite a page turner.... This novel will make for great book-club discussions.
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer
Gale Walden
This lovely novel is quiet and smart, drawing you so deeply into the characters that the ending might just leave you coming up for air.
Oprah Magazine
Markus Zusak
"You don't so much read To Be Sung Underwater as you're consumed by it. The characters are unforgettable. The writing is staggering. More importantly, though, it's the courage of this book that sets it apart. It's the bravest, most beautiful book I've read in a long time."
Carrie Keyes - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"McNeal's ability to tell the story from a female point of view is shockingly accurate, as is his Richard Russo-esque ability to make small town characters simply complicated....a beautiful novel that bravely examines the effect a broken relationship can have on one's life path."
Cynthia Crossen - The Wall Street Journal
"An exceptional novel.... McNeal writes a kind of prose that's almost endangered today: natural, smooth and subtle."
Ann Packer
"Smart, sexy, gorgeous, and at times devastatingly sad--these words describe the woman at the heart of this wonderful novel almost as well as they do the book itself. This ravishing love story will envelop you for a few days and then linger for a long time thereafter."
Richard Ford
"To Be Sung Underwater is such an immensely readable novel. McNeal has the enviable talent of making splendid writing look easy at no cost to the complexity and the beauties of what fascinates him (and me) -- the terrain occupied by women and men in love with each other. This is a wonderful book."
Sarah Willis - The Cleveland Plain-Dealer
"Bautifully written.... a compelling story, uniting the literary, character-driven novel with what eventually becomes quite a page turner.... This novel will make for great book-club discussions."
Caroline Leavitt - Washington Post
"Hypnotic .... so vividly written that it takes you to a place where all your perceptions seem dizzyingly altered. Which is, of course, exactly like love itself."
Gale Walden - Oprah Magazine
"This lovely novel is quiet and smart, drawing you so deeply into the characters that the ending might just leave you coming up for air."
Susan Salter Reynolds - Los Angeles Times
"Love stories have a terrible gravity, a centrifugal force. McNeal has created characters so dimensional, so memorable, that we are caught up in that urgency. Our rationality is compromised; the rules of the world fade away."
From the Publisher
"You don't so much read To Be Sung Underwater as you're consumed by it. The characters are unforgettable. The writing is staggering. More importantly, though, it's the courage of this book that sets it apart. It's the bravest, most beautiful book I've read in a long time."—Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief

"Smart, sexy, gorgeous, and at times devastatingly sad—these words describe the woman at the heart of this wonderful novel almost as well as they do the book itself. This ravishing love story will envelop you for a few days and then linger for a long time thereafter."—Ann Packer, author of Swim Back to Me and The Dive from Clausen's Pier

"To Be Sung Underwater is such an immensely readable novel. McNeal has the enviable talent of making splendid writing look easy at no cost to the complexity and the beauties of what fascinates him (and me) — the terrain occupied by women and men in love with each other. This is a wonderful book."—Richard Ford

"McNeal's ability to tell the story from a female point of view is shockingly accurate, as is his Richard Russo-esque ability to make small town characters simply complicated....a beautiful novel that bravely examines the effect a broken relationship can have on one's life path."—Carrie Keyes, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"An exceptional novel.... McNeal writes a kind of prose that's almost endangered today: natural, smooth and subtle."—Cynthia Crossen, The Wall Street Journal

"Bautifully written.... a compelling story, uniting the literary, character-driven novel with what eventually becomes quite a page turner.... This novel will make for great book-club discussions."—Sarah Willis, The Cleveland Plain-Dealer

"This lovely novel is quiet and smart, drawing you so deeply into the characters that the ending might just leave you coming up for air."—Gale Walden, Oprah Magazine

"Love stories have a terrible gravity, a centrifugal force. McNeal has created characters so dimensional, so memorable, that we are caught up in that urgency. Our rationality is compromised; the rules of the world fade away."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

"Hypnotic .... so vividly written that it takes you to a place where all your perceptions seem dizzyingly altered. Which is, of course, exactly like love itself."—Caroline Leavitt, Washington Post

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316127387
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 203,520
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom McNeal's first novel, Goodnight, Nebraska, won the James A. Michener Memorial Prize and California Book Award, and his short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and The Pushcart Prize XXI. He lives near San Diego with his wife and sons.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 77 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(37)

4 Star

(22)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(5)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 77 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 4, 2011

    RATING:4.5) AN EPIC LOVE STORY! TO BE SUNG UNDERWATER BY TOM MCNEAL...

    TO BE SUNG UNDERWATER by TOm McNeal is a wonderful epic love story set in Nebraska and Los Angles. What a sad,intense,heartbreaking and compelling story of love,secrets,life,second chances,fixing broken pieces of your heart,told with tenderness,that is truly unforgettable. The characters are engaging,sometimes witty,vivid and will trul capture your heart with their flawed,sometimes funny personalities.You will get sweep away with this truly epic love story. "To Be Sung Underwater" will leave you with an intense feeling of sadness and happiness as Willy and Judith comes to grip with their past and their future.This story will have your turning pages and have you desperately hoping for the best.A great story that is well written whose characters could be the family next door. This book was received for the purpose of review from Reading Romance Blog and the publisher and details can be found at Little,Brown and Company,a division of Hachette Book Group and My Book Addiction Reviews.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 7, 2011

    BookHounds

    Judith has been married to Malcolm and begins to wonder if she married the right man. Her thoughts turn to Willy, the boy she left behind years ago. The story flips back and forth between the present and the years before when she first met Willy. The story flows easily between the two time periods and you can easily get a feel for how Judith has matured. She has a dream job editing films, a lovely home and a man she thinks might be cheating on her. The drama builds effortlessly and the words are so lovingly chosen that you won't want to skip a one. I had to go back and read several paragraphs over since the writing is just so exquisite.

    The characters stuck with me long after I finished this book. This book would make an excellent movie since it feels like everything is in perfect order and you can see each scene unfold into the next. I am so glad that more authors are turning up from Orange County and especially the University of California, Irvine. This book would be a winning choice for a book club since there are so many interesting angles that can be discussed.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Incredibly compelling story

    I'm not much of a fiction reader but this was an amazingly well told story with characters I feel like I really know and care about. Be forewarned - you won't want to put it down!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 14, 2011

    Enjoyed but.....

    I enjoyed reading this novel but it really needed an epilog. There were too many questions unanwered. The writer made me really care for Judith so the ending was just not satisfactory. I actually looked for more pages when I knew there were none.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very highly recommended!

    As an avid reader, this is the first novel that I have felt completely compelled to review. From the first sentence to the final word, I found myself stealing seconds out of the day to read the next paragraph...or word. Even though I "knew' the ending, it still left me in shock and silently screaming "NO! This can't be the end!" This novel left me in silent tears mourning both the loss of the love of my life from my college days more than 40 years ago to the fragility of my current 8 year relationship and all the resultant "what ifs?".

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 11, 2012

    Recommended

    Good story with interesting connection between present and past. It was not one of the more compelling books I've read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 25, 2011

    Extraordinary.....

    The author reaches out and wraps you within the pages of this book!
    Beautifully written, hard to put down...you'll be thinking about what you have experienced within this story, long after you have finished the last page.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 7, 2013

    This was a really great read. The author's writing style is wond

    This was a really great read. The author's writing style is wonderful, the story goes back and forth in time but not is a confusing way. The time changes actually help fill in the story as the main character looks back and forth in her life.  I guess many people wonder if they married the right person and about the person they left behind. This is a classic look at that circumstance and is so well done. It does cause reflection. The story is beautiful and sad and had me deeply engrossed throughout. I keep thinking about the ending. Was that the right ending? It certainly was for this character and this book, but in real life? 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013

    This was one of those amazing reads that I never wanted to end!

    This was one of those amazing reads that I never wanted to end! I totally adored this book and the depth of the characters, the poignancy of their flaws and the  author's brilliant weave of suspense, love and sorrow. I wish I could read 10 more books that made me feel the way this book did when I finished. It was pure escape and pure joy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 2, 2013

    Beautifully written! Caution - this novel may inspire you to a m

    Beautifully written! Caution - this novel may inspire you to a moment of self-reflection.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2012

    A Good One

    I absolutely loved this stiry. It was so well written and surprised even me. Many thanks to the author.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2012

    Excellent book!!

    I throughly enjoyed this book. The story and the sentence structure used to weave this enchanting and thought provoking tale are magical. After I finished reading the story, I felt as if I had to go back and reread it immediately in order to fully appreciate the author's incredible talent......the second reading was even more beautiful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2012

    The romance, the humor, the sadness and regret, it was all there

    The romance, the humor, the sadness and regret, it was all there in this book and I loved it! The ending surprised me! I loved Willy's Character!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 21, 2012

    Difficult to read

    I purchased this book on the recommendation of a friend and because of all the great reviews. I simply could not get through this book. I stuck with it till about half way through thinking it would pick up but I finally gave up (something I rarely do). The writing was boring, the characters too muddled and I just didn't enjoy the plot. Wouldn't recommend.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Worth every page!

    Couldn't put it down! The writing was spectacular. Well worth every minute I spent reading

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  • Posted October 12, 2011

    A Great Read!

    It took me a bit to get into this book but once I did I couldn't put it down. The story is real characters with a story line that holds you right to the end. A good quick read for a fall night!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2011

    Well Written

    This is a book about a young woman coming of age in Nebraska, going off to college, getting married, having it all and questioning what she left behind in Nebraska. The book kept me interested but was disappointed in the ending. I felt that there had been another ending and the author decided not to use it for some reason. It ended too quickly and made me think "Why did the author do this?". I guess I like endings that have closure. However I would still recommend this book because of the excellent writing and interesting characters.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 24, 2011

    Recommend with care.

    Just finished the book, and literally kept looking to see if I'd missed some pages, or possibly the Nook hadn't fully downloaded the book. When infact after reading other reviews, it turns out it's just a lousy ending. I'm completely frustrated and sad that this is how the author choose to end the chapter. Judith never provides Willy with any closure, she was just this emotional void of a woman in the last pages. Brutal, to an overwhelmingly emotional Willy. This made her character, to me, very cold and callus from start to finish. Just seemed to me that her character never felt or understood the enormity of what had transpired between Willy and herself. As the reader, I felt very jilted, left with too many unasnswered questions.

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  • Posted August 19, 2011

    Of

    Top read of the summer. Bar none.

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  • Posted August 13, 2011

    Live To Read

    Judith always believed in marriage. She has her dream job and a husband she considered nice enough. Now, she wonders if her husband is cheating on her and her thoughts continually drift to Willy, a boy she loved long ago. The novels switches between the past and the present. The reader will get a sense of what went on long ago and how Judith came to make her present choices. Judith is an interesting character, she is nice, caring, and overall "smart" in her choices...




    The reader will get to know Judith very well, to the point of guessing her decisions before they happen. Judith is a sympathetic character, her great life is not exactly what it seems. Judith wonders about her past life and how her friends are doing, specifically Deena-a very intriguing character-and Willy. Her current lifestyle is nothing like her hippie mothers' or her fathers'-who has multiple affairs. She now has to choose between Willy and her current lifestyle...or can she merge the two in some way? This novel is fast-paced and fun to read. This book would be great for adults who enjoy women's fiction.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 77 Customer Reviews

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