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Troubles: Winner of the 2010 "Lost Man Booker Prize" for Fiction (New York Review Books Classics) [Paperback]

J. G. Farrell , John Banville
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
Price: £10.54 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

Oct 2002 New York Review Books Classics
Winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize

1919: After surviving the Great War, Major Brendan Archer makes his way to Ireland, hoping to discover whether he is indeed betrothed to Angela Spencer, whose Anglo-Irish family owns the once-aptly-named Majestic Hotel in Kilnalough. But his fiancée is strangely altered and her family's fortunes have suffered a spectacular decline. The hotel's hundreds of rooms are disintegrating on a grand scale; its few remaining guests thrive on rumors and games of whist; herds of cats have taken over the Imperial Bar and the upper stories; bamboo shoots threaten the foundations; and piglets frolic in the squash court. Meanwhile, the Major is captivated by the beautiful and bitter Sarah Devlin. As housekeeping disasters force him from room to room, outside the order of the British Empire also totters: there is unrest in the East, and in Ireland itself the mounting violence of "the troubles."
Troubles is a hilarious and heartbreaking work by a modern master of the historical novel.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: New York Review of Books; Reprint edition (Oct 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590170180
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590170182
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 221,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.G. Farrell was born in Liverpool in 1935 and spent a good deal of his life abroad, including periods in France and North America, and then settled in London where he wrote most of his novels. In April 1979 he went to live in County Cork where only four months later he was drowned in a fishing accident.

Product Description


* It's humorously and, above all, intelligently read by the peerless Sean Barrett. I'm so grateful to have it...if you've never read Farrell, you're in for a rare treat. The Times * Melancholy, vivid and moving, this stunning work captures a vanishing age. Sean Barrett's beautifully modulated voice enhances the brilliance of Farrell's writing. The Observer --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

Winner of the 1970 lost Man Booker prize in 2010! --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
93 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece 13 Jun 2000
By A Customer
'Troubles' is JG Farrell's masterpiece. Set in the months leading up to the Irish Civil War, in a remote hotel by the sea, it concerns the fortunes of a First World War veteran, the Major, on a visit to Ireland, gradually drawn into the declining fortunes of the Anglo-Irish. The Major's inner conflicts mirror the increasingly precarious political situation which steadily impinges on the lives of the characters, with a vivid conclusion. Farrell's control of the narrative is first-class, moving from the bizarre to the sinister in a matter of sentences, and the book is full of memorable images that linger on the retina long after you've finished reading: the sheep's head in the hotel bedroom, the burning hotel, the overgrown palm court. It's haunting, melancholic, very funny, political, intimate, and beautifully written. There is no-one quite like Farrell writing in Britain today; such a pity his untimely death cut him off in his prime. Treat yourselves.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 1 May 2008
By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Just back from the trenches of World War I, the retired Major Brendan Archer travels out to the Irish village of Kilnalough to meet his fiancée Angela Spencer, whose family runs the (once renowned) Majestic hotel. But once there she proves first elusive and then sick, and before long she dies. But although afterwards there's nothing much keeping him there, the Major finds himself strangely unable to leave the Majestic hotel. But this is Ireland in 1919, and remote as Kilnalough may be, there are increasing stories in the papers of troubles all over Ireland.

As in 'The Siege of Krishnapur' (another masterpiece, set during the Indian Mutiny in 1857, and winner of the Booker Prize), Farrell depicts in this novel the slow decline of the British empire, and he does so in a truly inimitable way. In itself there's nothing much funny about the bloody struggle for Irish independence, but nevertheless Farrell's novel abounds with hilarious scenes and is peopled with characters that are both immensely tragic and unbelievably funny.

I enjoyed the whole story no end, and cannot say how sad it is that Farrell already died at the age of 44 because I'm sure he would have gone on to produce many other deeply beautiful, tragic and funny novels.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mr 3 Aug 2010
This book was a revelation to me. The reader swiftly becomes immersed in the amazing world of 1919-21 Ireland. Action is centred on the fictive run-down Majestic Hotel in County Wexford. The establishment is emblematic of the last days of English rule. Owned and managed by an eccentric Unionist, the hotel caters for guests that are largely of that political hue, though there are a few notable exceptions in the character list. The Majestic is an enclave of the ascendancy in an Ireland on the verge of civil war. Life here is viewed through the prism of a young, liberally-minded major just returned from the Great War and planning to marry the proprietor's daughter. His plans are however thwarted by fate. One of many scenes that intrigued me was when a group of Oxford undergraduates stay at the hotel. The proprietor Edward Spencer expects them to support his bigoted, racist views of the native Irish. The visitors, despite their privileged backgrounds, side with indigenous population's wish to break free of the colonial power. Spencer is livid.

The book was awarded the 1970 Man Booker prize in May 2010 because there was no award made that year - something to do with a mix-up in qualification dates. Anyway, unlike most Booker awards, the decision of the judges - in this case, the reading public - was overwhelming. I can see why. It's very funny, quirky, sad, wise and yet analogous of the troubled Ireland of the Nineteen-Seventies, when the book was written. I read the last 250 pages in one sitting. Sadly the author, JG Farrell drowned in a fishing accident in Cork in 1979. He had a reputation for being something of a curmudgeon on colonialism and capitalism. But for all that, the text never preaches and is concerned above all with the intrinsic humanity of the characters. 'Troubles' is part of Farrell's 'Empire Trilogy", the rest of which I cannot wait to savour.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Troubles is the second part of what is a loosely-linked trilogy about the decline of the British Empire. Running through them all to provide some continuity is Major Brendan Archer, a rather weak but quite lovable man who arrives in Ireland in 1921 having retired from the Army in which he served in WW1. He is engaged to a woman he barely knows, Angela, who soon dies. However, rather like the British in Ireland, despite the disappearance of the original reason for his presence, he does not leave. Rather he lingers at Angela's father's Majestic Hotel. The country is being swept by the Home Rule movement, and even the rural area which is the backdrop for Troubles is not immune; Republican freedom fighters are seen on the grounds and the aristocratic residents are in mortal fear at times. The characters are very strongly portrayed in Troubles and the splendid descriptive narrative - particularly of the hotel and its grounds - provide a tangible sense of decay one can almost smell. Of course, since the Hotel is a grand metaphor for the British Empire itself, this is wonderfully appropriate. When Archer arrives, the place is already crumbling and the exotic plants in the conservatory are overgrown and jungular, threatening to block out all the light - perhaps representing the Imperial decline in Asia - by the time he leaves, it is no more. There is a wonderful, glittering hiatus when there seems, for a time, a chance to salvage what is left and turn the clock back, and the reader is swept up in this hopeful optimism, only to have those hopes dashed along with the characters' own - a perfect representation of the interwar years. Troubles can be read on a number of different levels. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Often very funny
'Troubles' is a bizarre and often very funny story set in a dilapidated hotel run by an eccentric family. Read more
Published 2 months ago by BookWorm
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good value
Published 3 months ago by BOOKWORM
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Overly long.
Published 3 months ago by Raymond cave
5.0 out of 5 stars TROUBLES
Published 7 months ago by C Thake
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Laborious, wordy and dull. I rarely give up on a book but I was losing the will to live each time I tried to persevere. Very disappointed with what looked like a promising read.
Published 10 months ago by pc
5.0 out of 5 stars Plenty for discussion
Our reading group were divided in opinion before we met to discuss this book, but it generated really interesting thoughts and opinions. Can definitely recommend it to groups.
Published 13 months ago by Ann g
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book
An excellent novel about the very beginnings of the troubles. Nice sense of gradually building tension. I enjoyed the images of the old hotel which the author conjures up.
Published 13 months ago by R J THICKETT
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Complex,brilliant and interesting.Not a single flaw in this masterpiece of a decaying family and empire.Found myself thinking about it long after I read the last page.
Published 15 months ago by Jim Cooke
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish
Rubbish! Sorry cannot spend more time on being more articulate. It was grim
to the point where my bookclub all gave up on it.
Published 16 months ago by Helen Rayner
5.0 out of 5 stars The fall of the Anglo-Irish
J.G. Farrell was an amazing writer, and this is certainly one of his best books. "Troubles" is an episode in the author's "fall of the British Empire' series that brilliantly... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Blue in Washington
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