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Woodbrook Paperback – 17 Feb 1994


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (17 Feb 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009935991X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099359913
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"A brilliantly original mix of love-story, memoir and history" (Brian Moore)

"It remains with one long after the story is told, a haunting sadness, a memory and a dream" (Olivia Manning Spectator)

Book Description

'Woodbrook is simply one of the most enchanting books I've read in a long time - it begins in delight before it ends in wisdom' - Seamus Heaney

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Orinoco on 3 Mar 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
wonderful book.
Stays with you long after finishing it.

It's set in the 30's and 40's in Co. Roscommon, in the rural west of Ireland. The locale is Woodbrook, a house and farm located between Boyle and Carrick-on-Shannon. The house is occupied by the Kirkwoods, a declining Anglo-Irish family, once wealthy and powerful, now living in a poorly maintained house and chased by creditors. Other characters in the book are the neighbouring local Irish, who work on the farm.
The book is about loss; firstly, the doomed platonic love affair beteeen the author (in his teens and twenties) and Phoebe, his student, who is 7 years younger, and secondly, the inevitable decay of the house and lands.

The book was written 30 years after the event and so is somewhat rose-tinted. The author admitted that he burned his notebooks in Woodbrook in a fit of jealousy, when Phoebe went off with a friend of the author, and so he had to rely on memory when writing the book. Naturally, as he admits, many of the un-pleasant aspects were forgotten.

The book reminded me, in parts, of McEwan's "Atonement" and somewhat less of Sebald's " Austerlitz" but I think "Woodbrook" was superior.

The book gives one insight of how the Anglo-Irish families lived between the two world wars.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Bruno Vincent on 22 Aug 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Woodbrook has stayed with me since I first read it ten years ago - it's one of the only books I find myself frequently recommending to others. David Thomson's descriptions of the summers at Woodbrook and the characters he met and heard about are very simple, and convey utterly the experience of enjoying a time in innocence which you will look back on with grief for its passing. He also tells the fascinating and tormented history of the region around the house of Woodbrook and its people, through the famine to the Second World War. And of course it is a love story (which would in almost any other circumstances put me off) - one whose history is almost unbearably poignant. I could hardly do anything for several hours after I finished it, totally dazed, and haunted.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By stevieby on 12 Dec 2007
Format: Paperback
A young Oxford student of history arrives at the Irish stately house of the Kirkwood family for the summer to tutor the two young daughters. Immediately he is enveloped and enchanted by a new world - the gentle landscape of lakes and mountains, the slightly eccentric family and their workers, who on the surface appear respectful and whole-heated in their labours, but deep underneath harbour misgivings. Over repeated summers the young man gets to know his hosts and the people of the neighbourhood as the historian in him delves into the past; how rebellion, famine and war had shaped the current affairs, and how memories and folklore are preserved in peoples' thinking.

Irish history is mostly a partisan and ugly affair, but it comes here in small bites with no flag-waving or false glorification, which are nonetheless shocking and revealing. Interspersed are details of daily live in the house and its surrounds - tiny dramas far from the 1930's world of encroaching war.

Long before the end the author is overpowered by his emotions for it all - the countryside, the lives of the people in the house and around it, and in particular the eldest daughter, Phoebe. As she is only 13 to 14 years old at the time their liaison was naturally frowned upon, but the author would have us believe both parties shared an innocence as well as feelings. And I tend to believe him as in all else he writes with such frankness and self-effacement, which is a big part of the book's appeal.

Is it the effect of youth?... life at Woodbrook is magically portrayed as timeless, and then suddenly it is out of time and crumbling. A time so close to our own time, and now gone from our reach.

Moving. Intelligent. It is all these things and more. Marvellous!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Oct 2000
Format: Paperback
David Thompson brings alive the wonderfully innocent relationship between himself and his pupil against the backdrop of one of the most exciting periods in recent Irish history.
He skillfully intertwines the past and present and brings even the most uninformed up to speed regarding Irish History.
It is a beautiful read - read it and keep it for your children.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Polly Rubinstein on 6 Oct 2011
Format: Paperback
I've never been big on histories or memoirs but this book was brilliant and remarkable. It brought the history of Ireland alive - not just the first half of the 20th Century, but by the memories and stories of characters in the book, earlier Irish history too. Delightful, warm and wonderful.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was recommended to me by someone who was researching some of our ancestors from Co. Roscommon, Ireland. A distant Frazer cousin, Edward, married Mary Kirkwood, a daughter of Thomas Kirkwood of Woodbrook in 1834. Although David Thomson comes over as something of a 'wimp', he was, undoubtedly a very good historian. 'Woobrook' paints a fascinating story of the gradual decline of a prominent Anglo-Irish family in the 19th and 20th centuries. The author pays particular attention to the effects of the Penal Laws and the Famine on the Catholic families who worked on the estate.. A good, and from a genealogist's point of view, a very useful read.

(My copy of the book was an Amazon Verified Purchase.)
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