I had heard that this was a great book. It sure was! I loved absolutely everything about it, especially the amazing, richly developed characters. Don't let the length intimidate you, it is an ultra-addictive and engaging read thanks to the wonderful writing.
This was the Book of the Months Club "Book of the year." I checked it out not having any idea what it was about. It was very long and hard to get through at times but overall I really enjoyed the story. It was interesting that this book went from around the 1940s- 2015. I was able to learn a lot about a country I do not know much about (Ireland). The characters are loveable and there are heart wrenching moments and very laughable moments.
Unbelievable coincidences, extreme precociousness in the young, and a cliched plot: this book was sent flying, figuratively speaking, halfway through.
I loved this narrating character, Cyril Avery – his emotional search for identity, for a sense of home, and his tough examination of Ireland’s history, controlled and damaged by the Catholic Church. ALL the characters were complexly drawn and so resonant. I was completely immersed in this novel and, although I typically read myself to sleep in 20 minutes, I went on and on captivated by Boyne’s brilliant epic. As I read, it made me think of another well-loved book, A Prayer for Owen Meany, with its scope of heartbreak, humour, rage, and injustice. And then I noticed the dedication was to John Irving (not sure what that was about). Not often I feel disappointed when I get to the end of a book, but this one – yes, I wanted even more.
Impossible to put this book down until the end (actually the ending is the only part of the book which seems a tad contrived). Hilarity is only one of the weapons used to excoriate the church-dominated, narrow-minded insensitive side of the otherwise magical Irish soul. Boyne paints a perceptive, unflinching portrait of the last 70 years in Ireland while dwelling on departure, exile and return.
Mr. Boyne’s fast paced and convincing prose carries the reader through the life of many
eccentric characters in this novel mostly about homosexuality and its ostracism but also picturing the hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness of the Irish church and society at large.
His dark humor and subtle characterization add to his biting portrait he of intolerance and stupidity.
Amazing first chapter had me put my other books aside but...I'm bailing 1/2 way through. The story that captivated me, of feisty Kitty, pregnant in a religious and hostile Ireland is only one chapter long. The book focuses instead on her adopted, neglected and timid son as he grows into his homosexuality in the same hostile country. Sadly, some characters are just ridiculous.
Omigosh!, what a great book. By turns hilarious and heart-rending, it's just a great read. It's pretty huge, but don't be put off by its size, because it reads so well, you'll just find yourself promising 'only one more page', before putting it down, and then ten pages later you'll be saying 'only one more page'.... !
John Boyne’s latest delivers like its predecessors:
A History of Violence and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
The novel scans decades, connecting the various lives within six degrees of separation.
The characters slam up against one another, tossed around by the iron clad cruelties of the omnipresent Catholic Church and the vagaries of the street.
There is a darkness to each life, but it’s ultimately undercut by the promise of aging and time.
Wonderful, laugh-out-loud dialogue . Pages and pages of it.
If for some reason , you can’t get beyond the first chapter - that would be enough.
Written with thunder- you know you are in the presence of great literary , and very Irish
Every seven years we get a glimpse of the life of Cyril, a boy adopted by a wealthy and detached couple in 1940's Dublin; we see him at 7 when he meets the love of his life, at 14, when he is beginning to come to terms with his sexuality, and all through a long life of struggling and striving to fit in. At 600 pages, the plot is strong enough to sustain interest, but the readers will find their incredulity strained at the many implausible coincidences. One of the main characters is Ireland itself, and the torturous route it takes getting to modernity. An enjoyable read that would have been better with editing.
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