In the spring of 1915, Jim Mack and "the Doyler", two Dublin boys, make a pact to swim to an island in Dublin Bay the following Easter. By the time they do, Dublin has been consumed by the Easter Uprising, and the boys' friendship has blossomed into love--a love that will in time be overtaken by tragedy. O'Neill's prose, playing merrily with vocabulary, syntax and idiom, has unsurprisingly drawn comparisons to James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, but in his creation of comic characters (such as Jim's pathetic but irrepressible father) and in the sheer scale of his work, Charles Dickens springs to mind first. But Dickens never wrote a love story between young men as achingly beautiful as this.
In the character of Anthony MacMurrough, haunted by voices as he pursues his illegal and dangerous desire for Dublin boys, O'Neill has created a complex and fascinating centre to his novel, rescuing the love story from mawkishness, and allowing a serious meditation on history, politics and desire. For as Ireland seeks its own future free of British government, so Jim, Doyle and MacMurrough look back to Sparta to find a way to live their own future. As Dr Scrotes, one of MacMurrough's voices, commands:
Help these boys build a nation their own. Ransack the histories for clues to their past. Plunder the literature for words they can speak.In this massive, enthralling and brilliant début, Jamie O'Neill has indeed done just that: provided a nation for what Walt Whitman calls, in O'Neill's epigraph, "the love of comrades". --Alan Stewart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I have had this weighty Irish novel on my bookshelf for about 10 years but hadn't gotten around to reading it. For some reason the reviews of it being 'Joycean' had daunted me. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Maurice66
Very moving and well written. Learned a lot about the Irish revolution too.Published 12 months ago by 8th Floor Ben.
Poignantly beautiful innocent love with all that the devil's not bothered to clarify in humanity.
Absolutely love every single page of it. Read more
Our group voted this our favourite book of the year.
There's a good description of place and time and where else would there be lulls in fighting for the Angelus? Read more
If you like good literature then don't miss out on this epic novel that focuses on the friendship of two boys growing up in Ireland. Read morePublished on 10 Jun. 2013 by Chris F.
A finely written novel with a celtic lilt to the sentence construction. It is more or less accurate historically and the dramatic turn in the boys' lives is mirrored by the... Read morePublished on 7 May 2013 by Caro Mio
This is a beautiful and unconventional love story. The writing and characterisation is absolutely superb. I can't recommend it enough.Published on 29 Mar. 2013 by April89