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Listening Well: Bringing Stories of Hope to Life

Listening Well: Bringing Stories of Hope to Life

by Heather Morris

Narrated by Nicolette McKenzie

Unabridged — 7 hours, 3 minutes

Heather Morris

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Includes an interview between the author and Lale Sokolov.

From New York Times bestselling author Heather Morris comes the memoir of a life of listening to others.

In Listening Well, Heather will explore her extraordinary talents as a listener-a skill she employed when she first met Lale Sokolov, the tattooist at Auschwitz-Birkenau and the inspiration for her bestselling novel. It was this ability that led Lale to entrust Heather with his story, which she told in her novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz and the bestselling follow up, Cilka's Journey.

Now Heather shares the story behind her inspirational writing journey and the defining experiences of her life, including her profound friendship with Lale, and explores how she learned to really listen to the stories people told her-skills she believes we can all learn.

"Stories are what connect us and remind us that hope is always possible."-Heather Morris

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly


In this exquisite work, novelist Morris (Three Sisters) makes an impassioned case for the value of spoken history. Crediting her success as a novelist to the “privilege of hearing stories,” she offers readers a personal look at the real-life stories behind her books, each of which juxtaposed moving tales of survival with the devastation of the Holocaust. Revisiting her 2018 novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which fictionalized the story of her friend Lale Sokolov, a tattooist at the death camp, Morris recounts the heartbreak she felt hearing Sokolov speak of looking into the “frightened eyes” of “the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen” as he tattooed numbers on her arm. Cilka’s Journey (2019), meanwhile, tells a version of the life of Cilka Klein, a Holocaust survivor and friend of Sokolov’s late wife, Gita. As she evokes in vivid prose these affecting tales, Morris coaches readers on how to dive into the history of those in their own lives, with tips on listening to aging family members. “Many will need some persuasion,” she writes, “and some may not feel that they have anything exceptional to pass on. But I disagree: each of us has lived a unique life.” Weaving spectacular storytelling with wise advice, this underscores the beauty of slowing down in an age of distraction. (Aug.)

From the Publisher

" “A thoughtful and insightful exploration.” --Library Journal

"In a heartfelt ... memoir, the author extols the act of listening as an expression of love and empathy ...A celebration of human connection." --Kirkus

“In this exquisite work, novelist Morris makes an impassioned case for the value of spoken history … Weaving spectacular storytelling with wise advice, this underscores the beauty of slowing down in an age of distraction.” --Publishers Weekly

Praise for Cilka's Journey:

"In the stirring follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Morris tells the story of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again. Morris’s propulsive tale shows the goodness that can be found even inside the gulag."--Publishers Weekly

Praise for The Tattooist of Auschwitz:

“Based on a true story, the wrenching yet riveting tale of Lale’s determination to survive the camp with Gita is a moving testament to the power of kindness, ingenuity, and hope.” —People

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the story of hope and survival against incredible odds and the power of love.” —PopSugar

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an extraordinary document...I find it hard to imagine anyone who would not be drawn in, confronted and moved. I would recommend it unreservedly to anyone, whether they’d read a hundred Holocaust stories or none.” —Graeme Simsion, internationally-bestselling author of The Rosie Project

Library Journal


Morris's (The Tattooist of Auschwitz) memoir discusses her philosophy of listening and explains how she researches her historical fiction. Growing up in rural New Zealand, Morris experienced an austere upbringing in which children were seen but not heard. Two exceptions were her father and great-grandfather, whose respectful conversations with Morris taught her how to listen. These skills served Morris well when she met Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who survived the Holocaust and whose story she eventually retold in fiction. While most of the memoir is framed by Morris's experiences interviewing and befriending Sokolov, she also relates the backstories behind her two other novels, both of which came from the remarkable stories of Holocaust survivors. Interspersed throughout the book are practical tips for listening, especially when talking to older people or children. A thoughtful and insightful exploration of how listening skills are important in everyday life as well as in historical research. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Morris's fiction and those who would like to improve their listening skills.—Rebecca Mugridge

Kirkus Reviews

How to use listening skills to find inspiration and enrichment.

Morris based her novels The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey on the emotional, intimate details told to her by Holocaust survivors, who were eager for her to hear their stories. In a heartfelt, occasionally self-congratulatory memoir, the author extols the act of listening as an expression of love and empathy. Growing up in New Zealand, she was taught that children should be seen and not heard. “As an inquisitive child, and one who already instinctively understood the value of the story, and in hearing what others had to say, this had the opposite effect on me,” she recalls. “I wanted to know what it was adults talked about, wanted to know everything.” That inquisitiveness has transformed her into what she calls an active listener, for which she has devised some basic rules: “to concentrate, to understand, to respond, to remember what is being said, to withhold judgment or opinion.” Too often, she writes, we listen to another person only to look for an opening in which to express our own ideas. Listening, though, whether to elders, children, or one’s own feelings, is an act of generosity and attention. For more than 20 years as an office manager in the social work department of a Melbourne hospital, she came into contact with patients in considerable distress. “To have someone listening without being personally connected to them,” she discovered, “unleashed a torrent of past and present concerns.” Offering comfort and support for patients and caregivers, she was praised as an “honorary social worker.” Her most significant act of listening came in her relationship with Lale Sokolov, the tattooist she memorialized in The Tattooist and a central character in her memoir. She recounts their growing closeness over the three years that she visited with him and her sensitivity in helping him relate the traumatic details of his life.

A celebration of human connection.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176473162
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication date: 08/02/2022
Edition description: Unabridged

Customer Reviews