John Boyne never fails to surprise. This book about the culture and sexual mores of Ireland from 1945 to the present is often sad, sometimes ridiculous (“I don’t drink coffee”, she said, taking a sip from her tea. “Coffee is for Americans and Protestants. Irish people should drink tea. That’s how we were brought up after all.”). But the narrator is honest and observant. A long way from”The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”.
The description of this book did not grab me but I started reading it because the author's book "The Boy in The Striped Pajama" tore at my heartstrings. Well, this book did not disappoint either. Its narrator Cyril Avery, is the illegitimate son of Catherine Goggin, who is adopted at birth by an eccentric couple. It tells the tale from Cyril's perspective, between 1945 and 2015. It's somewhat of a coming of age novel and a good one at that. To be Irish, Catholic, and homosexual is not a pretty combination and it is amazing that Cyril is able to maintain his sense of humor, which he does. Some of the situations seem contrived but they make for interesting reading and one gets a good view of the politics in Ireland as also the hold that the Catholic Church had on the country. All in all a gripping novel.
A great sweeping story that is a wee bit over the top at times, but for me it just added to the whole allure of disappearing into the book. Very good writer.
This saga, which follows the life of a gay man growing up in Catholic Ireland, effortlessly moves between heart-wrenching tragedy and laugh-out-loud wit. There is an anger simmering throughout the novel, but it is intertwined with love and tenderness, making it a very moving read.
Enchanting story of a gay Irishman’s life and Ireland’s history from 1945 to 2015 told with both heartbreaking pathos and ironical humor. It’s hard to put a finger on what made this such good reading. Loved the little coincidences and inside jokes Boyne used to weave this story of mother and son. Another very good book!
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.
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