- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Abacus (2 July 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 034912129X
- ISBN-13: 978-0349121291
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 243,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Whispered Name (Father Anselm Novels) Paperback – 2 Jul 2009
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Impressive . . . Brodrick captures brilliantly the sickening nature of the soldier s' task in having to execute one of their own . . . He uses this emotive material to its full potential, spinning out an interior drama that is every bit as gripping as the events themselves . . . Brodrick tells his story skilfully, pacing it well, building up the tension and revealing just enough to keep the pages turning . . . There are some brilliantly evocative and poignant descriptions of the trenches . . . He has succeeded in telling a passionately human story about a most inhuman moment in history (Irish Times)
Sensitively wrought . . . Brodrick's exploratory novels are refreshing and restorative, his style is thoughtful and precise; his integrity powerful. You feel better for having read them. Maybe you are (Spectator)
'The horrors of Passchendaele in 1917 run through this exquisite novel. Just how much can a man take before he must simply walk away? And what kind of strength enables one man to lay down his life for another? (Matthew Lewin, Guardian)
Brodrick writes very well about inner movements of tension and realisation. This is an ambitious book in the way that it balances these profound questions with an intricate and pacy plot, and in its scope, tracing lives spanning nearly a century (Scotsman)
A hugely moving and intelligent novel from the bestselling author of The Sixth Lamentation and The Gardens of the Dead, A Whispered Name reaches into the mysteries of one man's past and casts light on the long shadows war leaves behind.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The events of "A Whispered Name" are set in the trenches of WW1 where a young Irishman Joseph Flanagan is facing execution for desertion. Some 70 years later Father Anselm researches the sad events leading up to this pitiful moment.
While the plot moves along at a gentle pace, the horror of war is starkly laid out. There are no bad guys, even the officers sending this poor chap to death are viewed in sympathetic light. What I loved about the story was the strong undercurrent of spirituality which seep through every paragraph, yet without preaching God and church, more about the reality of goodness and the search for what is right.
Brodrick has created a novel that is both tragic and heart warming, capturing the slaughter of WW1 and the search for peace of mind.
That argument for faith and religion have taken a battering of late - with Dawkins, the religious right, the battles in the vatican and CoE all persuading the intellect to steer well away, Broderick is reminding us that maybe we should think again.
A mysterious visitor to the Larkwood monastery reveals and unknown aspect to the life of one of its oldest inhabitants, the founder of the monastery itself, Fr. Herbert Moore and his part in the sentencing of a young Irishman, Private Joseph Flanagan, charged with desertion during the battle for Passchendaele in 1917. Fr. Moore however is now dead, leaving the events and incomplete accounts of the incident shrouded in secrecy. What drove a young Irishman to fight alongside the English? Why did he risk an unknown, perhaps personal mission that could see him dishonoured and shot for desertion? And why are the pages of his trial containing the final judgement incomplete?
Caught up in complicated military legal procedures, the events distorted by unreliable and incomplete accounts, Anselm's investigation seems to be an impossible one, "looking for meaning in the one place it cannot be found". Yet this is precisely the strength of Brodrick's work. The writing is again brilliant, the author masterfully creating the conditions of the WWI trenches, but more than that, capturing the deeper complexities of memory and human behaviour caught up in exceptional circumstances.Read more ›
The book follows Anselm's investigation into the wartime activities of his mentor, Father Herbert Moore. As well as depicting the horrors of the trenches and the mental and physical damage suffered by the soldiers, there is also a mystery element to the story. What led Joseph Flanagan to leave his home off the coast of Ireland to join the British Army, why did he commit a suicidal act of desertion, and just who is the mysterious woman who accosts Anselm in the cemetery and always seems to be one step ahead of his investigations?
Anselm's research reveals the almost slapdash process of courts martial during WW1, when shooting deserters was deemed necessary in order to maintain discipline and set an example. It also uncovers some shocking, but unfortunately not very surprising, facts including the disproportionate numbers of Irish and working class men who were shot for deserting their posts, for whatever reason. The book also deals with the lasting legacy of guilt and shame borne by those who were forced to carry out the death sentence on their comrades, which haunts them for the rest of their lives.
I remember really enjoying the first Father Anselm book, The Sixth Lamentation, but being disappointed in the follow-up, Gardens of the Dead. This is a great return to form; an informative, well written and very poignant story.
"A Whispered Name" is the story of a young Irish soldier, and of the people whose lives were interwoven with his. The events of 1917 are threaded through a investigation in the late 20th century (I would have liked to have been given a clearer indication of just when the later narrative was taking place; as far as I could tell, it was the 1990s), with a handful of characters present in both time periods.
A man is charged with desertion, and sentenced to death, because he was for a short time absent from his unit. But something is strange about this case: the narrative told by its paper trail has too many blanks. These absences of information begin to look deliberate. Through the eyes of Brother Anselm In the present day, and through a gradual unfolding of events in 1917, we discover what led to the decisions that determined Joseph Flanagan's fate in 1917, and the lasting effects of that fate on many others.
I sometimes had difficulty keeping track of all the named soldiers, and I never quite understood Seosamh's motivation for enlisting. But those are small reservations. For the prose that's so often musical, especially when it's of and about the Irish characters, and for the stark evocation of place and time, this story will long stay with me.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Only the 2nd Father Anselm book I've read and I will definitely read them all. This has to be the most moving and thought provoking book I've read about desertion in WW1. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Book chatter
An unusual concept of a WW1 detective novel written in present times. Such a sad and tragic story of deceit bravery bullying the down right brutality and futility of warfare. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Pixie
A most enjoyable read taking in a real feeling of misery and triumph. It's difficult to say too much without giving away the plotPublished 11 months ago by Nick
Father Anselm, a bee-keeping monk of Larkwood Monastery in Suffolk, receives two visitors who wish to see a now deceased monk, Herbert Moore. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Douglas Kemp
Becoming a fan of William Broderick and this was a book I enjoyed very much because it moved me and made me think about the obvious i.e. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Suzie