As Father Odran Yates reflects on his life as a priest he encounters uncertainties and ripples of unease. Has he been wilfully ignorant or just plain naive? As for his clergy contemporaries, especially his friend Tom Cardle who entered the seminary with him when they were teenagers, have they upheld the faith that is so important to them all?
Passionate and unflinching, this novel is a powerful examination of Irish life that confronts the accusations levelled at the Church. [Larger font]
This book generated a huge amount of discussion, and included the wider topics of the role of women in the Roman Catholic church, (stories like 'The Magdalene Sisters'), and also looking at the untimely death of Pope John Paul 1st. For many of the group, the book was not enjoyable because of the topic but we also felt John Boyne was very brave to write this book which, although it is fiction, tells a very topical and relevant story. Several of us thought the writing was very powerful, others did not enjoy the book. A very well-written story.
This book generated a huge amount of discussion, including wider topics like the role of women in the Catholic Church. For some of the group the book was not enjoyable because of the subject matter but we felt that John Boyle was very brave to write the book which tells a topical and relevant story. We thought the writing was powerful although the characters were not as well developed as in some of his other stories. We had mixed opinions on whether Odran was a victim of his own PTSD or whether he was wilfully blind to Toms situation. A very well-written story.
Everyone thought this was excellent, though disturbing. Boyne writes well, and given his personal background, it is imbued with authenticity. Led to good discussion.
Some hated this book, others thought it was an insight into Ireland, the Catholic church and the changes over 50 years. Gently written but packing a punch. Well worth a read.
Our group found this book impressive, not exactly enjoyable because of the terrible subject matter, but an honest analysis of the scandal within the Catholic Church.... We discussed the book, mainly the subject matter rather than its literary merits which are considerable, at some length. 8/10.
Wonderful book - a moving insight into an issue of huge significance.
We all enjoyed this book, and found it very thought-provoking and engaging.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this excellent book. It prompted much discussion and is a great choice for book groups. Thank you.
Appalling topic, illuminating story, fascinating discussion. A high scorer for our group.
A great discussion on this book, covering a wide range of aspects - sexual abuse, power, submission, societal structure and norms of the day, societal history and of course the influence of the Catholic church and its clergy (at all levels) in shaping aspects of the above. The writing style and structure of the book drew many favourable comments.
This was our second John Boyne this year and enjoyed equally well by the group without exception. Another excellent discussion ensued.
All agreed a well-written book, and we thought the various chapters going forward and back in time was very efficient in covering Odran's life. We had a lively discussion on the subject of Ireland, the Catholic church and the abuse that occurred. Odran was a man of peace who just blinkered himself to anything unpleasant. Does this make him guilty or complicit with what was going on There was a general feeling of sadness.
It was a very topical subject about which every member had been aware for many years. Discussion questions were good on the whole - some lively discussion on the "quotes" at the end too. Members did not like the flash-back narrative and felt that that aspect could have had further editing. It was worthwhile, if depressing reading, one member being moved to tears. As most of us had been brought up originally in different faiths, we learnt quite a bit from each other's experiences too.