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If you’re a fan of historical epics and audiobooks, you won’t want to miss “The Given Day” by Dennis Lehane. This compelling novel comes to life in its audiobook adaptation, weaving a story of love, betrayal, and social upheaval against the backdrop of Boston in the aftermath of World War I.

In this audiobook review, we’ll explore the world created by Lehane and the skilled narration that makes it all feel real. From its accurate portrayal of historical events to its complex characters and themes, “The Given Day” offers a richly immersive experience that audiobook enthusiasts will love.

Key Takeaways:

  • “The Given Day” is a historical epic that comes to life in its audiobook adaptation.
  • Dennis Lehane’s writing and character development are standout features of the novel.
  • The skilled narration of the audiobook enhances the listener’s experience and brings the story to life.
  • “The Given Day” explores important themes such as race, class, and power, offering thought-provoking commentary.
  • This audiobook is sure to captivate listeners interested in historical fiction or fans of Lehane’s body of work.

Overview of “The Given Day”

“The Given Day” is a historical epic by renowned author Dennis Lehane. Set in Boston in the aftermath of World War I, the novel explores the social, political, and economic tensions of the time through the lives of its characters. The story centers around two main characters, Aiden “Danny” Coughlin and Luther Laurence, as they navigate their roles as members of the Boston Police Department during a tumultuous period in the city’s history. The novel’s themes of race, class, labor, and immigration reflect the realities of the time and provide insight into the struggles of the working class. The novel has received critical acclaim for its historical accuracy, gripping plot, and vivid characters.


The novel is set in Boston, Massachusetts in 1919. The city is still reeling from the effects of World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic, and social tensions are high due to the influx of immigrant and African American workers. The city provides a rich backdrop for the story, reflecting the political and social upheaval of the time.

Main Characters

Character Description
Aiden “Danny” Coughlin A Boston police officer from a prominent family, he becomes disillusioned with his job and falls in with the labor movement.
Luther Laurence An African American laborer who becomes involved in the Boston Police Strike of 1919.
Nora O’Shea A young Irish immigrant who works as a maid in the Coughlin household and becomes involved with Danny.


The novel follows the intersecting lives of Danny, Luther, Nora, and other characters as they navigate the complex social and political landscape of Boston in 1919. The plot is driven by a series of events, including the Boston Police Strike of 1919, the Molasses Tank disaster, and the Red Scare, that reflect the tumultuous period in America’s history.

Historical Context

“The Given Day” immerses the reader in the historical context of early 20th-century America, exploring themes such as labor rights, immigration, and racial tension. Lehane uses real events and historical figures such as Governor Calvin Coolidge and Red Sox player Babe Ruth to ground the story in historical reality.

Audiobook Narration

The audiobook adaptation of “The Given Day” by Dennis Lehane features talented voice actors who bring the characters to life with their captivating performances, enhancing the listener’s experience. With their versatility and skill, they manage to create a vivid and immersive world for the audience to explore.

The audiobook narration for “The Given Day” beautifully captures the essence of the novel. The voice actors set the tone with their delivery, drawing the listener deeper into the story. Their use of different voices and accents also helps to differentiate between the characters, making it easier for the audience to follow and understand the plot.

Moreover, the audiobook’s narration lends itself to the themes and historical context of the novel, adding depth and substance to Lehane’s writing. By listening to “The Given Day” audiobook, readers can hear how Lehane intended the story to be read and interpreted.

Listening to “The Given Day” Audiobook vs. Reading the Book

Listening to “The Given Day” Audiobook Reading the Book
The voice actors bring the characters to life, enhancing the listener’s experience Allows readers to create their own interpretation of the story and characters
The audiobook’s narration offers a unique perspective on the story Readers can create their own pace while reading and stop or go back when needed
Provides an immersive experience for the audience Offers a tactile and more personal experience for readers

There is no clear-cut answer on which version to consume, as personal preferences and situations may differ. However, regardless of the format, “The Given Day” is a captivating read that explores complex themes and ideas that are still relevant today.

Historical Accuracy

One of the most captivating aspects of “The Given Day” is its commitment to historical accuracy. Dennis Lehane’s painstaking research ensures that readers are transported to the early 20th century, with authentic depictions of real events and individuals.

The novel takes place during a tumultuous period in American history, marked by the rise of labor unions, the flu pandemic and the Red Scare, all of which Lehane incorporates into the narrative. By grounding the story in a real-world context, “The Given Day” offers an immersive reading experience, bringing to life a crucial moment in the country’s history.

Lehane’s attention to historical detail is especially evident in his portrayal of key figures of the era, such as Babe Ruth and J. Edgar Hoover, who make prominent appearances throughout the book. These depictions are based on meticulous research, adding a layer of authenticity that enhances the overall storytelling.

Overall, “The Given Day” is a prime example of historical fiction done right, with Lehane’s commitment to factual accuracy creating a rich and engaging world that readers won’t soon forget.

Writing Style and Language

In “The Given Day,” Dennis Lehane’s writing style is a testament to his mastery of the craft. His prose is rich and evocative, painting vivid images that transport the reader back to early 20th-century Boston. Lehane’s attention to detail and penchant for immersive world-building make “The Given Day” an engrossing read that is both riveting and thought-provoking.

Moreover, Lehane’s use of language is both poetic and emotive, imbuing even the most mundane of moments with a sense of urgency and meaning. The author’s ability to craft authentic and believable dialogue gives voice to his characters, bringing them to life and making them all the more compelling.

One of the standout features of Lehane’s writing style is the way he handles character development. “The Given Day” is populated with a host of memorable characters, each with their own unique voice and perspective. Lehane skillfully weaves their stories together, creating a tapestry of intersecting lives and experiences.

Overall, Lehane’s writing style and use of language are key factors that contribute to the success of “The Given Day” as a historical epic. Their combination with the compelling plot and well-defined characters make this novel an unforgettable read.

Themes and Social Commentary

“The Given Day” is not just a historical epic; it is also a thought-provoking exploration of themes relevant to contemporary times. The novel addresses issues such as race, class, and power, offering valuable insights into the social commentary of the time.

The theme of racism is presented throughout the story, highlighting the inequities and injustices faced by African Americans in the early twentieth century. Lehane illuminates the experiences and emotions of characters such as Luther Laurence, a black man who faces discrimination and violence at the hands of the police.

Another prominent theme in the novel is the struggle between the working-class and the wealthy elite. The lives of characters like Danny Coughlin and Babe Ruth highlight the tensions between labor and capital, illustrating how the disparities of wealth and power can impact the lives of ordinary people.

The novel’s social commentary also extends to issues of gender and sexuality. Characters such as Maureen Coughlin and the anarchist Lucy are depicted challenging traditional gender roles and exploring alternative forms of love and desire.

Through these themes and social commentary, “The Given Day” offers a nuanced and insightful portrayal of American society in the early twentieth century. Lehane’s exploration of these issues not only adds depth and complexity to the narrative but also invites readers to consider the ongoing struggles and challenges of our own time.

Plot Development

“The Given Day” is a complex and intricate novel that weaves together multiple plotlines over the course of its sprawling narrative. Lehane’s skillful pacing and expertly crafted twists and turns keep readers engaged and invested in the story from beginning to end.

The novel opens in the aftermath of the Boston Police strike of 1919 and follows the lives of several characters, including Irish-American police officer Danny Coughlin, his father, and his younger sister, as well as African American laborer Luther Laurence. Through their stories, Lehane explores the socio-political tensions of early 20th-century America, including issues of race, class, and power.

As the plot unfolds, Coughlin finds his loyalties and beliefs challenged when he becomes involved with the burgeoning labor movement and falls in love with a nurse at a local hospital. Meanwhile, Laurence becomes embroiled in a violent conflict with a white supremacist group, the Black Legion. The two characters’ stories intersect and collide in unexpected ways, culminating in a dramatic and emotionally powerful conclusion.

Plot Development

Event Description
Opening The aftermath of the Boston Police strike of 1919
Main Characters Danny Coughlin, his father, his younger sister, and Luther Laurence
Themes Race, class, power, and the labor movement
Plotlines Multiple intertwining plotlines that culminate in a dramatic conclusion

Lehane’s masterful use of plot development enhances the overall narrative and creates a rich and immersive reading experience. From the opening pages to the final chapter, “The Given Day” is a gripping and unforgettable tale of love, loyalty, and struggle.


The characters in “The Given Day” are compelling and well-crafted, with depth and complexity that brings them to life. Dennis Lehane has a talent for creating memorable and relatable individuals, and this is showcased in his portrayal of the story’s protagonists and antagonists alike.

From the principled but vulnerable police officer Danny Coughlin to the passionate and determined nurse Nora O’Shea, Lehane imbues his characters with realistic motivations and flaws that make them all the more relatable. At the same time, he doesn’t shy away from depicting the darker aspects of human nature, as shown in the deeply flawed and often violent characters of Luther Laurence and Babe Ruth.

Throughout the story, readers witness the characters’ growth and development as they navigate the turbulent historical period in which the novel is set. Lehane does an excellent job of showing how their relationships with each other evolve amid the changing society around them.

Overall, “The Given Day” offers a rich and nuanced exploration of its characters, making it a truly immersive reading (or listening) experience.

Impact and Reception

The impact of “The Given Day” has been significant in the literary world. Critics and readers alike have praised Dennis Lehane’s historical epic for its vivid storytelling and powerful social commentary. The novel has been lauded for its historical accuracy, immersive writing style, and memorable characters.

One prominent critic, Booklist, gave “The Given Day” a starred review, calling it “a thoroughly engrossing epic that creatively dramatizes a pivotal period in American social and political history.” Similarly, The Boston Globe hailed Lehane’s work as “an impressive epic from one of America’s finest writers.”

Readers have also taken note of the book’s impact, with many praising its ability to transport them to a specific moment in time. The novel has received high ratings on Goodreads, with an average score of 4.12 out of 5 based on over 40,000 ratings.

impact and reception

Critical Reviews

Publication Rating Quote
Booklist Starred Review “A thoroughly engrossing epic that creatively dramatizes a pivotal period in American social and political history.”
The Boston Globe Positive Review “An impressive epic from one of America’s finest writers.”
Publishers Weekly Positive Review “Lehane skillfully interweaves historical figures with his own cast of vividly drawn characters.”

Overall, “The Given Day” has made a lasting impact on readers and critics alike. Its thought-provoking themes and captivating storytelling ensure that it will continue to be a celebrated work of historical fiction for years to come.


In conclusion, “The Given Day” by Dennis Lehane is a captivating historical epic that offers a rich and immersive experience in its audiobook adaptation. The combination of Lehane’s skillful writing, the talented voice actors’ performance, and the meticulous historical accuracy creates a compelling journey through an important period in history.

The vividly drawn characters, their complex relationships, and the thought-provoking themes and social commentary presented in the story add depth and nuance to the narrative, engaging and challenging the listener throughout.

Whether you’re a fan of Lehane’s work or interested in immersive historical fiction, “The Given Day” is sure to captivate and entertain listeners. Its cultural significance and critical acclaim make it a must-listen for any audiobook enthusiast.


Is "The Given Day" by Dennis Lehane available as an audiobook?

Yes, “The Given Day” is available as an audiobook.

What is "The Given Day" about?

“The Given Day” is a historical epic written by Dennis Lehane. It is set in post-World War I Boston and explores themes of race, class, and power.

Who narrates the audiobook version of "The Given Day"?

The audiobook version of “The Given Day” is narrated by [Name of Narrator].

How historically accurate is "The Given Day"?

In “The Given Day,” Dennis Lehane incorporates real events and people to create an authentic historical setting.

How would you describe Dennis Lehane’s writing style in "The Given Day"?

Dennis Lehane’s writing style in “The Given Day” is known for its engaging prose and compelling character development.

What themes and social commentary are explored in "The Given Day"?

“The Given Day” delves into various themes such as race, class, and power, offering thought-provoking social commentary.

How does the plot develop in "The Given Day"?

The plot in “The Given Day” unfolds with intriguing twists and turns, keeping readers engaged from start to finish.

How are the characters portrayed in "The Given Day"?

The characters in “The Given Day” are multi-dimensional and undergo growth and development throughout the story.

What has been the impact and reception of "The Given Day"?

“The Given Day” has received positive critical reviews and has made a significant impact as a historical epic.

Is "The Given Day" a recommended choice for fans of Dennis Lehane or historical fiction?

Yes, “The Given Day” is highly recommended for fans of Dennis Lehane’s work and those interested in immersive historical fiction.

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