Until I Find You

Version: Unabridged
Author: John Irving
Narrator: Arthur Morey
Genres: Fiction & Literature, Literature
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Published In: July 2005
# of Units: 28 CDs
Length: 35 hours, 30 minutes
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Until I Find You is the story of the actor Jack Burns – his life, loves, celebrity and astonishing search for the truth about his parents.

When he is four years old, Jack travels with his mother Alice, a tattoo artist, to several North Sea ports in search of his father, William Burns. From Copenhagen to Amsterdam, William, a brilliant church organist and profligate womanizer, is always a step ahead – has always just departed in a wave of scandal, with a new tattoo somewhere on his body from a local master or “scratcher.”

Alice and Jack abandon their quest, and Jack is educated at schools in Canada and New England – including, tellingly, a girls’ school in Toronto. His real education consists of his relationships with older women – from Emma Oastler, who initiates him into erotic life, to the girls of St. Hilda’s, with whom he first appears on stage, to the abusive Mrs. Machado, whom he first meets when sent to learn wrestling at a local gym.

Too much happens in this expansive, eventful novel to possibly summarize it all. Emma and Jack move to Los Angeles, where Emma becomes a successful novelist and Jack a promising actor. A host of eccentric minor characters memorably come and go, including Jack’s hilariously confused teacher the Wurtz; Michelle Maher, the girlfriend he will never forget; and a precocious child Jack finds in the back of an Audi in a restaurant parking lot. We learn about tattoo addiction and movie cross-dressing, “sleeping in the needles” and the cure for cauliflower ears. And John Irving renders his protagonist’s unusual rise through Hollywood with the same vivid detail and range of emotions he gives to the organ music Jack hears as a child in European churches. This is an absorbing and moving book about obsession and loss, truth and storytelling, the signs we carry on us and inside us, the traces we can’t get rid of.

Jack has always lived in the shadow of his absent father. But as he grows older – and when his mother dies – he starts to doubt the portrait of his father’s character she painted for him when he was a child. This is the cue for a second journey around Europe in search of his father, from Edinburgh to Switzerland, towards a conclusion of great emotional force.

A melancholy tale of deception, Until I Find You is also a swaggering comic novel, a giant tapestry of life’s hopes. It is a masterpiece to compare with John Irving’s great novels, and restates the author’s claim to be considered the most glorious, comic, moving novelist at work today.

Reviews (7)


Written by David T. on January 2nd, 2021

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I'm a devoted John Irving fan. I'm glad I waited for the audio version for long car rides and 30 minute runs outside or at the gym to handle this 35 hour book. You have to get used to the first fourth of the book - it's a full-length book treatment of a boy among older girls. It has its pay-offs but you have to be patient. In time you'll be glad you slogged thru that first fourth. This really is 2 or 3 novel-length books in one. I still have just under two hours to go but it has now been worth it. I decided it was worth it half-way thru - you may have to get that far to learn to appreciate it. Only if you're an Irving fan will you get the tone and the feel. Five stars is a lot, but its five stars are here and there in many places - and like anything that good - its not perfect - but the end product is the sum of its bests. The narration was very good - the man had to sound like a female with an accent so many different times - he deserves an A for the effort. I'm glad I've read the book.

For John Irving Fans Only

Written by Elisabeth Wang on January 23rd, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

As stated before, this is for John Irving fans. This one is very dark and you have to get through some pretty disturbing child molestation scenes told from the child's perspective who doesn't realize what is happening is wrong. Complexity of characters is great - typical for Irving. And, of course the story line is unpredictable.

Very Good

Written by Sandy Cooper on January 21st, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This was an interesting story, It kept my attention. There were turns in the story that were unexpected. It is a sad story of a man growing up and learning to deal with his childhood, for all the good and bad. The only thing about the book that I would put on the negative side is that there were many sub stories in the form of books and screenplays that I did not see as necessary, making the book very long. (I believe that the total of CD time is somewhere around 30 hours)

Until I Find You

Written by Anonymous on November 3rd, 2007

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Well, I'm glad I stuck with all twenty-eight discs, but I certainly agree with one of the other reviewers. You have to be a John Irving fan to appreciate this....and the reader WAS supurb!!!!!

Until I Find You

Written by Anonymous on March 28th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Hilarious, as usual, John Irving is a genious. Emma's character is infectious, can't get enough of her attitude.


Written by Renee Locks on March 23rd, 2006

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Not my favorite but well-read and kept me interested.

Okay for die-hard John Irving Fans

Written by Angelika Teal from Northfield, NH on January 20th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Overall the book was okay and good to listen to. The reader was really excellent. As for the book itself, I liked it, because I have read all of John Irvings books and like his macabre dark (noir) story-telling. This book was more challenging. The first part was simply heart-breaking with the child molestation, abuse and neglect. It got better after that but never lost the sad and melancholic undertone. This book does not have the humor some other J. Irving books had, which make some of the terrible events more bearable. And typically, just when things finally turn out well and the main character finds (relative) happiness, the book abruptly ends. It would have been nice to find out more about the happy times in Jack Burns life, who fortunately despite a childhood which would have geared anyone else towards a career as a serial murderer, turned out to become a famous actor. Even though he has no common sense and goes through the story as a blundering idiot.

Author Details

Author Details

Irving, John

John Irving is the author of numerous novels for adults, including "A Widow for One Year, The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meany," and "The World According to Garp," He lives in Vermont and Toronto.