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The Star Of The Sea Audio Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook


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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Audiobooks (1 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856869636
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856869638
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 3.5 x 13.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 718,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Tragedy is a word too often used. Nevertheless, in Star of the Sea Joseph O'Connor manages to achieve a real sense of the tragic, as personal dramas of the most distressing kind play themselves out against the background of the Irish potato famine and the almost equal nightmare of the mass emigration that it caused. As passengers die of starvation and disease in steerage, a drama of adultery, inadvertent incest and inherited disease plays itself out in first class. O'Connor raises, and does not attempt definitively to answer, real questions about responsibility and choice.

Bankrupt aristocrat Meredith is emigrating, pursued by the hatred of his tenants and the memory of his mad-hero father. His children's nurse, Mary, has memories of lost love to torment her, as well as of the husband and child who died of hunger. And the ballad singer Mulvey has both his monstrous past and the certain promise that he will be tortured to death by the Liable Men should he not kill Meredith. This is a kaleidoscopic novel, whose events are seen in many idioms, from many points of view--it is a rich novel that knows that there are limits to the sense that can be made of history. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Coote on 10 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
A bad historical novel can be a dispiriting experience, akin to watching a `historical' drama featuring Charlton Heston or Ernest Borgnine. In the hands of a craftsman like A S Byatt or Patrick O'Brian, though, it can be richly rewarding. Here, Joseph O'Connor has penned a gem of a historical novel, taking the Irish potato famine as its central subject and weaving a terrific story around the event by focusing on the lives of a small group of disparate individuals on board one of the thousands of vessels haemorrhaging out of Ireland and heading for America to escape the horror. All are refugees of one form or another. Conditions on the boat are deplorable as the voyagers die like flies of diseases resulting from overcrowding and lack of hygiene and food. The lives of these individuals - a bankrupt aristocrat landowner and his wife, their maidservant, an American reporter and an Irish revolutionary - are intertwined in ways that even they do not realise. Their stories, from different viewpoints, are related with verve, humour and passion.
The novel is presented in different forms - the captain's log, newspaper articles, verbatim accounts of conversations, surgeon's case notes, revolutionary ballads and assorted other documents. Written in slightly archaic but beautiful prose, it is a delight to read and, not as some reviewers believe, especially difficult. Meticulously researched, we read of starvation, adultery, syphilis, bankruptcy, murder and more in this almost picaresque novel as we share a sense of outrage at events that, in the end, could have been alleviated, if not avoided.
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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Neil Madle on 5 Mar. 2004
Format: Paperback
I devoured this novel on a recent vacation to Florida, making a nice counterpoint to traipsing around DisneyWorld with the kids. It is undoubtedly one of the finest novels I've read in the last couple of years.
O'Connor's characters are astonishingly well drawn. Set firmly in the historical context, one could quite easily believe they existed, though the nearest thing to a narrator – Grantley Dixon - is perhaps the least believable figure and potentially the novel's only weak point.
All the key POV characters - Merredith, Mulvey, Mary Duane - are drawn in shades of grey. Indeed, Pius Mulvey is an extremely sympathetic protagonist until events and his own dark urges take him beyond the point of no return on the road to Leeds. It’s at this point that all sympathy is lost. Even the secondary characters – Captain Lockwood, Rev Deedes, Nicholas Mulvey, Laura Merredith – are nicely delineated. O’Connor has a genuine gift for characterisation.
The novel’s structure is likewise fascinating. In many ways it resembles Stoker’s Dracula in its use of diary accounts, letters and recollections from multiple viewpoints. By wrapping the whole story up in authentic trappings, the novel has the air of a historical document. Even if these stylistic flourishes are disregarded, you’re left with a truly compelling plot and a nice final twist.
Star of the Sea is polemical without being naïve. It’s heart wrenching without becoming soapy (far from it). It’s understandably downbeat without being depressing. Above all, it’s a great tale derived from a dark chapter in the history of these Isles and the author is a massive talent.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Stracs VINE VOICE on 6 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback
I was taken by surprise at how much I enjoyed this book. I suppose I expected a thinly veiled political diatribe about the Irish famine and the fault of the British in this but in fact it is nothing of the sort. To me it is the book that has best brought home the true horror of famine without making political judgements or placing blame. Instead O'Connor lets the reader come to their own conclusions regarding this. The book is so brilliant in its descriptions of famine and its horrific effect that it truly made me understand it for the first time.
However, to think that the famine is the main aspect of the book and the main thrust of the story is wrong. The book is based strongly around wonderful characters who are so brilliantly written that I couldnt help but feel I knew them. I can picture them completely in my head, not as characters but as real people with real emotions. I can only really enjoy a book fully if the characters do this, and O'Connor has certainly produced a great set of extremely well written characters, not one of whom I didnt like.
The story is also a roaringly good tale with twists galore, most of which are unexpected which is unusual to me as I am normally pretty good as working out whats to come. At times in the middle of the book it did feel a little slow going, and the very end after the climax was a little long for my liking but these are the only two slight criticisms I have and they did not spoil the book at all for me. The use of "flashbacks" to describe previous events works well in this book. Some books to me have seemed disjointed when this method has been employed but this is not the case with Star of the Sea. If anything it adds to the suspense of the book and builds up a strong picture of the characters and motivations.
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