History of the Rain

Williams, Niall

  17 Reviews

Every way she turns, Ruthie Swain is surrounded by books, 3958 of them to be precise. From her bed in the attic of the family farmhouse in County Clare, Ruthie seeks out the stories of the Swains: from her great-grandfather the Reverend Swain, her pole-vaulting salmon-loving grandfather Abraham, to her poet farmer father Virgil, and her twin brother Aeney.

With the support of her literary legacy and her powerful imagination, Ruthie the storyteller reveals the lives of her unconventional family and life in small town Ireland.

Rich with literary references, poetic language and gentle humour, this is a family saga to savour.



We really enjoyed this book. Lovely, poetic writing and interesting, rather quirky characters.
Several of our group struggled with the book and some didn't finish it. Those who took the time loved the language, quirkiness, complexity and humour. Others found it very dense and confusing at times. Generated good discussion.
TAKA 001
The format worked for some people, and not for others who felt that it was very distracting and disjointed. There was a whole range of opinions (from liking it to finding it boring) , and as a consequence it encouraged a lively discussion.
One member loved this book, but the others found it too waffly and too meandering.
One member loved this book and"the language" while another persevered and it said it was worth it, but the majority of the group didn't finish it withsome not even starting as it just didn't engage them.
Some members loved this book, enjoying the lyrical, poetic language and the particularly Irish turns of phrase, which evoked many a chuckle for them. However, most remarked on the "lack of action", whilst others failed to persevere to the end, and still others complained of the author's "skiting" of his scholarly knowledge of literature.... Recommended for committed readers only....
With one exception we all loved this book. With so many humorous passages we took great joy in reading out some of them. The author was an acute observer and we loved his ability to take us to County Clare, to people we'd never met and a landscape we'd never seen, yet were instantly recognisable. The writing was beautiful and poetic, emotional and poignant in parts, but it is the humour that we will remember.
CHCH 446
This book received very mixed responses. Most found it too difficult to get into and didn't persevere. Others thought that the language was beautiful, and loved it. It does take a bit of commitment, and needs to be savoured rather than devoured.
AUCK 006
Comments ranged from:- "Too long," "Too meandering," "Too academic, a book designed more forstudents studying stream of consciousness writings. I read for pleasure. To:- "Enjoyed the language of the storytelling although didn't read the entire book. Read the end but skipped parts on the way." "Did not enjoy the first third but persistence paid off and became more interested in the story after that. Need to reread the book to fully understand it but probably will not do that immediately because it requires close attention and is long."
FERN 001
A beautifully written lyrical account, cleverly written by a man in the language of a young woman. A book not to be gobbled or devoured, but savoured paragraph by paragraph. We loved this book.
NELS 023
Because it is a challenging read and it needs to be read slowly and carefully to get the most from it, some members didn't start it, or finish it. However the people who finished it (most of the group) would give it a 5+ rating.
This was a book out of the ordinary! Packed full of wonderful description, humour, imagination - absolutely delightful. It seems to enter one's heart and remain in one's thinking. We revelled in sharing our favourite bits and read some of Yeats' poems. So saying, there were a couple of members to whom it did not appeal so much, but there, we areall different.
AUCK 063
Several struggled with the beginning , found it too slow and didn't finish it. For those who persevered, they found it poignant, enchanting. beautifully written and so evocative of Ireland - its weather (always wet!) and people. The finishers rated it 7-8/10, quite high praise for our group.
RAUM 001
As a group we really enjoyed "History of the Rain". We thought that the author (male) captured the voice of the young female very well. We felt there were several themes running through the story, and that the rain was almost like a character itself. The writing was excellent and at times made us feel sad, but at others made us laugh. Probably one of the best books we've read for a while.
WELL 142
As usual, some of us enjoyed the book very much and will look for other books by Niall Williams. Some found the flash back aspect of the book unsettling, and found it difficult to keep track of the "plot".
WELL 107
The group didn't all love it, but those who did REALLY loved it. The Irishness of it, the poetry of it, the language of it, the observations.....For me personally it has gone straight into my all time Top 10!
It took some of us a while to get into this book - we found the literary references tiresome, but we all persevered and all thought the writing was poetic and amusing, with pathos. Another challenging and interesting read!