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The Fields
 
 

The Fields [Kindle Edition]

Kevin Maher
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Review

It's not often, reading a first novel, that you can settle back with a happy sigh, confident that you're in safe hands. The narrator of Kevin Maher's debut, 13-year-old Jim Finnegan, hits his comic stride straight away, and doesn't let up for a minute . . . With pin-sharp period detail and a frenetic comic energy, this Irish debut is a laugh-out-loud read . . .Thrust into extremity, Jim retains that childlike combination of innocence and enthusiasm that can make even daily existence seem larger-than-life: The Fields glows larger still. Fresh, beguiling and laugh-out-loud funny on every page, this must be the most enjoyable Irish novel since Skippy Dies (Justine Jordan Guardian)

Heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measures . . . the relationship with the most profound effect on him - with his father - is the least dramatic but it's so quietly devastating it had me in tears . . . I couldn't put it down. And for someone like me - a slow reader with a short commute - that's really saying something (Stylist magazine)

Rich in period detail, Kevin Maher's debut novel captures the spirit of the changing times in Ireland, and convincingly conveys all the exuberance, uncertainty and angst of being a teenage boy; it's funny and heart-warming. Maher is an engaging writer and this is a hugely enjoyable - and promising - debut (Daily Mail)

Plunging you headlong into 80s Ireland, Kevin Maher's debut novel, The Fields is crazy mad, lyrical and unforgettable . . . [a] funny, moving, compelling and hugely original coming of age story . . . Don't miss this brilliant debut from a remarkable new voice (Red magazine)

entertaining, often hilarious, touching and at times deeply troubling . . . There are some exquisite moments of comedy that anyone with a whiff of Irish heritage will immediately recognise . . . Jim's strength, humour and vibrancy flood the novel with an energy and optimism that will leave you warm inside. The Fields is a story about the messiness of family life, yes, but it is also, ultimately, a beautiful tribute to families everywhere that soldier on no matter what life throws at them (Sunday Express)

Were Roddy Doyle to co-author a novel with Edward St. Aubyn, the results might look a lot like Kevin Maher's gloriously ribald debut, The Fields. Taking the former's mastery of Irish demotic and the latter's peculiar talent for unearthing gallows humour in the most upsetting of personal tragedies, Maher's picaresque tale certainly packs a punch . . . Maher's fearless and heartwarming prose is simply too lovely to resist (Metro)

Black comedy and infinite narrative energy . . . Maher's writing is immediate, highly descriptive and unflinching . . . reminiscent of some of Patrick McCabe's work. The Fields is a clever novel and operates on many levels. Highly accessible, it wears its ideas lightly . . . Jim . . . begins to believe that he might be a healer himself. The belief leads to a beautiful and extraordinary conclusion. Jim's healing - or redemption - doesn't seem inauthentic; and nor does it negate what he has suffered because, from the outset, Maher has made space for the seemingly impossible' (Sunday Business Post, Ireland)

When my friend said this was the best book he's ever read I had pretty high expectations and it didn't disappoint . . . utterly captivating. If you're a fan of Chris O'Dowd's Moone Boy then this is definitely for you (U magazine, Ireland)

a powerful comic debut (Sunday Times)

magic and weirdly moving (The Times)

very funny, infected with the rueful mirth of memory. Maher has built the serious underlying novel from the comedy of childhood in Ireland (Irish Examiner)

Book Description

The launch of a major new literary voice in Irish/British fiction: set in 1980s Dublin and London, The Fields tells the vividly evocative story of Jim Finnegan's unfairly interrupted adolescence and is one of the Waterstones 11 for 2013, a list of the chain's best fiction debuts.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 814 KB
  • Print Length: 449 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0349138672
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group (28 Feb 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0091LLW9W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #49,659 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Troubles 20 Mar 2013
By Bantam Dave TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When the first few pages describe the death of a family cat followed shortly by a gory description of what happened when a young schoolgirl was hit in the mouth by a hockey ball I suspected that I wasn't in for the most lightest of reads. Although the book goes on to venture into the darkest of areas, including child molestation, abortion, miscarriage, under-age sex, terrorism and cancer, this is essentially is very funny book which, for the most part, was a pleasure to read.

During the course of the 300 or so pages of this story young Dubliner Jim Finnegan goes through hell. Like a junior version of TV's The Fast Show's Unlucky Alf, just about everything that could go wrong in his life actually does go wrong. Despite everything though, Jim struggles through, aided by his natural bounce-backability, naiveness (which to be fair, causes some of his problems in the first place) and sheer optimism of youth. Jim is memorable lead character, very likeable but with also possessing a slightly darker side in his nature that occasionally reveals itself.

Apart from Jim, perhaps the other leading character in this book is the city of Dublin. Although they are very different in tone, I couldn't help but compare Jim Finnegans Dublin to the Dublin described in Roddy Doyle's Barrytown trilogy. Dublin is shown to be a quirky place, full of characters always in search of the craic, but also a city where religion rules and the parish priest is seen as ultimate authority figure. In fact it is only when Jim travels away from Dublin to spend time in London, does the book start to flag. These final few chapters rather let down the book down a little, particularly when Jim gets involved with Astral Sciences and gets hooked up with a community that believes in the power of new age healing. I found this section to be the only part of the book that was not totally believable, which is a shame because it is directly linked with the final denouement of the story.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny and horrifying 14 Feb 2013
By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
There's no easy way of getting around this, and some might consider it a spoiler, but one of the most significant points you might want to know about Kevin Maher's debut novel upfront of reading it is that deals with a particularly troubling case of sexual abuse of a young Dublin boy by a Catholic priest. I didn't know this beforehand myself, but you can see it coming from very early on - almost from the moment that the rather smugly arrogant parish priest looks 14 year-old Jim Finnegan up and down in response to his mother's pleas to consider him for a prestigious position as an altar boy. The Fields is however about much more than this - and it's actually a very funny book - but the reason why I think it's worth mentioning that unpleasant matter here is that you simply can't talk about anything else in this book without that fact being known. It's an experience that colours everything and, evidently, has a profound impact on the direction that the young narrator's life takes.

And, in essence, that's the main theme of The Fields, the book considering the childhood experiences that mark us most, form our character and personality and set us on unexpected directions in adult life. It's a coming-of-age story then and it has many elements that anyone growing up during the 80s will recognise - but it's one that will have particular resonance for anyone who has grown up in Ireland during a time when the Catholic church held a unassailable position of authority, influence and unquestioning respect. If The Fields does nothing else, it helps the reader to understand why such abuses occurred and why no one - least of all young impressionable children - dared to speak out about them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Tommy Dooley TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a debut novel from Kevin Maher, it tells of the story of Jim Finnegan and starts our tale in 1984 when `Finno' is the tender age of thirteen. He lives with his Mammy and Daddy in Dublin and his five sisters. He also loves `Bronski Beat' and his best mate Gary whose own Daddy has to fly for the worlds worse named air line, yes Aer Lingus. Being thirteen he has more hormones than an artificial insemination production plant (if they actually exist, I haven't Googled it yet) and falls for Saidhbh who's own father is in `The Movement' which is code for the IRA, or at least everyone thinks he is. Either way he hates the ruddy Brits and loves all things Gaelic, hence the extensive use of consonants in all of his children's names.

He has to put up with a number of life's travails and also the very much unwanted attention of one of the Priests after he gets volunteered to be an altar boy. As his shenanigans get more adult in nature, his youthful innocence, which wasn't too innocent to be honest, leads him to have to make decisions that many a fully fledged adult would have problems with. The result is a brilliant story that races along so fast you are always left wanting more.

Kevin Maher has done that trick that eludes so many authors, in that he has dealt with some very difficult issues and still managed to keep the humour levels ramped right up, if this were a Rockumentary, the humour levels would be set on eleven - if you get my drift. Even when things are desperate he still manages to be funny. His observations are all brilliantly observed, but more impressive as they are done though the eyes of a fourteen year old tasting the highs and lows of life, often for the first time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fields is worth your time and attention
The Fields contains some challenging themes - abuse by clergy and mental health issues probably wouldn't be at the top of anyone's list of chosen subjects. Read more
Published 11 days ago by D. Bradley
2.0 out of 5 stars too many themes.
Derivative of so many books. Tried too hard to be funny and poignant.
Was not sure if the theme was about abuse, family life or struggling sexuality . Read more
Published 24 days ago by Catriona
5.0 out of 5 stars Super duper
Excellent book - really struck home with me as a 41 year old Irish emigrant, all of the references to Dublin in 1984 made me smile and laugh out loud even though some of the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. P Angel
2.0 out of 5 stars Not an enjoyable read for me
This was a book that was sent to me to review, this was something that I had not requested and knew nothing about. Read more
Published 2 months ago by mrsb2011
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
This is truly one of the most beautiful, shocking, happy and sad books that I have ever read. I bought it because my youngest son is also Kevin Maher...
Published 3 months ago by Jane Maher
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsure, undecided...
I don't really know how to feel about this book. I don't know whether I liked it or not, so I need to talk about it first. Read more
Published 4 months ago by El Chan
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Cried, laughed. Great pathos which I only truly find in Irish writing. I was so disturbed by this book that I read it in two nights because I needed to know what would become of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Siobhan Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars "I've missed you all my life"
Set in 1980's Dublin this book tells the story of Jim Finnegan 'Finno', a 13 year old who is subjected to terrible abuse at the hands of Father O'Culigeen. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Holly74
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fields - superb
From the very beginning I got swept up into his world of 1980's Ireland and, having had a 1950/1960's upbringing myself in Norfolk, I could relate to so much of what he went... Read more
Published 4 months ago by H. Pleasence
4.0 out of 5 stars An Irish debut
It is Ireland in the 1980s and "The Fields" opens with our thirteen-year old narrator, Jim Finnegan, contending with five sisters, shifting friendships, bullies, and his love for... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Eleanor
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