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This Human Season [Paperback]

Louise Dean
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

3 May 2005
It is December 1979. Kathleen's son Sean has been convicted of a crime on behalf of the IRA and sent to Long Kesh prison - newly renamed the Maze. John Dunn has just taken up a job as a prison guard after leaving the army. Both will be shocked at what they find. Both will try to do the right thing, and fail. Neither will ever be the same again. Louise Dean's sensational new novel deals with one of the most explosive and morally complex incidents in recent British history. THIS HUMAN SEASON is a powerful, confronting, humane, and blackly funny examination of the lives of ordinary people when placed in the vice of history.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First U.S. Edition edition (3 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743240014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743240017
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 14.6 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,976,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Louise Dean was born in Hastings in June 1970 and went via grammar school to Cambridge University to read History. Three continents, three books, three children, two husbands and one defunct Manhattan ad agency later, she returned to the UK in 2007 to settle down and write, at last, a book set in England. Known for her dark comedies, winner of Society of Authors Trask Prize 2004, and various others, long listed for the Man Booker and IMPAC she teaches for Arvon on occasion. Her fourth book 'The Old Romantic' will be published by Penguin in August 2010.

Product Description

Review

'Nothing short of astonishing'. -- The Telegraph

'This Human Season is a novel that confirms the arrival of a significant voice in British fiction'. -- The Observer

From the Inside Flap

Louise Dean's powerful, humane and confrontingly funny second novel immerses us in the lives of two parents, two sons, two enemies - two ordinary families placed in the vice of history.

It is November, 1979. Kathleen's son Sean has just been transferred to Belfast's most notorious prison - Long Kesh, recently renamed the Maze. Kathleen knows that he will join the other prisoners on their non-cooperation protest, known as the Blanket. Rumours of a hunger strike are beginning to circulate.

John Dunn has finished twenty years in the British Army. After three tours of Belfast, he's found a girl and a house and a job as a prison guard.

In the weeks before Christmas, both Kathleen and John will find themselves in impossible situations. Both will have to find a way to survive when everything they love is in danger of being destroyed.

THIS HUMAN SEASON is set during one of the most contentious and morally complex periods of recent British history. Compassionate and fearless, it confirms an exceptional new literary talent.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gritty evoking of an emotional time 19 Feb 2006
By Siriam TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This novel set in Ulster at the Xmas time just before hunger strikes were commenced by IRA prisoners in the Maze is a very well written and researched novel of two stories run in parallel. The one is of a Catholic family whose oldest son has just gone "on the blanket" in the Maze prison and the other is of an English ex-soldier who has returned to live in Northern Ireland to be a prison guard in the Maze and the son who he has never met coming to visit him shortly after.
The skill with which the two stories are developed alongside each other by the simple structure of alternating chapters between the two stories and neither story ever interacting even at the end (though events such as a prison visit bring them in proximity) is a masterful technique I have not seen used before in a novel and
allows a true panorama to be created.
The evoking of that period with the capturing of all its historic emotion for both catholic and protestant communities and the spot on depiction of endless abusing of events by different factions for their own personal selfish ends is what makes this novel so memorable.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
A friend from Ballymurphy recommended this to me, a novel that takes place around Christmas 1979 as seen through two characters who never meet: Kathleen Moran, a West Belfast mother, wife, and weary at the age of 40, with one son contemplating the looming choice to go on hunger strike in Long Kesh prison. There, guard John Dunn, a veteran of the British Army who has already done three tours in the North of Ireland, decides to work for the increased pay given for such hazardous duty, not only on the inside, but as a target outside the walls from both embittered Loyalists as well as hostile Republicans.
Dean tells these two tales well. She avoids cliche, does not show off an overly literary style, preferring to keep more inside, via indirect narration, the perspectives largely limited to Kathleen and John. As the novel progresses, we begin to see more about their partners, their pasts, their relatives, and the reasons they both choose to endure the North rather than flee for less embattled, more leisurely, climes. The alternation, every chapter, of their two stories helps avoid melodrama or predictability. By no means a "Troubles thriller" or a hackneyed hand-wringing liberal plaint, the author--as her acknowledgments show in the appendix, has by interviewing and listening to the real people who lived through this time been able to mix their experiences into fiction that passes for fact, as limited to two frail people recognizably very human.
While I in turn recommend this book, a few very minor points prevented it from earning a full five stars.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Sides of the Coin 26 July 2005
Format:Paperback
Many books today present the reader with a confliction of ideas or two opposing sides battling it out for a conclusion. Then when this conclusion passes, the reader more or less feels coerced into jumping on board with that outcome.
'This Human Season's' conflict however stays with you after the last few pages, and even after the few weeks following the end of the book. Louise Dean writes with such eloquence and yet morbid flattery that it becomes reminiscent of Alexander Trocchi - forcing the reader into seeing the beauty behind the repulsive. This is in fact theme of the book - the beauty of the IRA: the families and communities surrounding the organisation and their imprisoned loved ones. We, as the reader, want to be repulsed by their bombings and selfishness yet see a silver lining on this most dark of clouds. The IRA is then set against the life of a prison guard in Northern Ireland, John Dunn, and his problems at home with a son he never knew he had and a partner he seems to mire toleration in. Yet Louise Dean never falls into the trap of making a novel that defends the IRA, which would too easily rely upon its controversy to be noticed. Her writing is far too personal and breathtaking, as we almost look entirely beyond the two sides and into a grooup of lives with problems and loves and hurts.
Presented in opposing chapters, 'This Human Season' constantly twists our allegiance until we finally realise that we shouldn't be seeking to take a side, but to simply see and breath in the two sides of the coin.
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