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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Rewarding Experience
At first it took me a little while to get into this book. It portrays a young man's coming of age in Belfast in the late sixties, working out what growing up is all about, and struggling with the conundrums of sex, religion and friendship.
There are some absolutely cracking characters, including the hero's ambuiguous, dangerous friend Blaise, and his arch-enemy, a...
Published on 19 Nov 2003

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Vastly over-rated.
I have just read this book for our book club. I found it boring, repetitive, condescending, over-long due to pointless detail, and without real meaning. I generally find some virtue in most books that we read but this one was a struggle. I doubt the authors veracity. How I wish I could have these wasted hours returned to me.
Published on 28 Nov 2008 by R. T.


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Rewarding Experience, 19 Nov 2003
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Anatomy School (Paperback)
At first it took me a little while to get into this book. It portrays a young man's coming of age in Belfast in the late sixties, working out what growing up is all about, and struggling with the conundrums of sex, religion and friendship.
There are some absolutely cracking characters, including the hero's ambuiguous, dangerous friend Blaise, and his arch-enemy, a bigoted and cruel teacher.
I particularly enjoyed the first half of the book. It's gripping, funny and poignant. I was a little disappointed by the end (which I found somewhat disjointed), but the first two thirds are extremely satisfying and make this book well worth reading. Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly, highly recommended, 8 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Anatomy School (Hardcover)
This is a beautifully crafted and funny novel, and is a wonderful insight into growing up in Belfast in the 50s & 60s.
The characters are extremely rich, particularly the hilarious triumvirate who meet in the home of Martin's mother.
Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Anatomy School, 17 Sep 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Anatomy School (Paperback)
I read this book a year ago and it still stays with me (must be a recommendation in itself). What the previous reviewer failed to mention was the humour of the book. In particular the supper times of the main character's mother, the priest and local characters- hilarious! Here is a very authentic portrayal of life, morals and concerns in Catholic Northern Ireland at the time (at least it feels authentic) alongside the persisting concerns of adolescence- embarrassment, social credibility and exams.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and funny, 22 Mar 2012
By 
Benjamin (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Anatomy School (Paperback)
Seventeen year old Martin Brennan has failed his exams and is retaking the year, in his new class he finds himself befriended by the popular and athletic Kavanagh, a friendship that surprises but also pleases Martin. This is Belfast in the 1960s, troubled times for that city, but also for Martin, a Catholic boy whose mother hopes might choose the priesthood, who is under pressure to pass his exams, a rather naive boy who has a lot to learn about much including sex and friendship.

With Kavanagh's help Martin makes progress, a progress accelerated with the appearance of a new boy in school, Blaise Foley. The mysterious and irreverent Blaise attaches himself to to Martin and Kavanagh with potentially disastrous results as among other things they hatch a scheme to pass their exams.

We follow Martin and Kavanagh later at the anatomy school where we find Martin helping his friend, but also where Martin also finally discovers much to his delight some more earthly pleasures.

Interspersed with Martin's schooling are episodes in his family life where his mother's regular weekly evenings at home to the local priest and a couple of opinionated parishioners provide further humour.

Frequently very funny, The Anatomy School is a very entertaining account of a likeable young boy finding his way through the uncertainties of life discovering the value of friendship and eventually the delights of the flesh.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Growing up Catholic in working-class Belfast., 25 Dec 2002
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Anatomy School (Hardcover)
Confronting the usual thorny, coming-of-age issues of sex, religion, and morality, Belfast teenager Martin Brennan and his friends, with their hormones in high gear, are stunningly nave, their primary concern, sex, remaining a mysterious, dark realm into which they must feel their own way. Unable to gain much needed knowledge of basic biology from home or school, they try to sublimate their urges, exploring the mysteries of faith, the example of Christ, the meaning of sin, and the importance of family and friends, while privately garnering as much information as they can about the Big Secret.
Brilliantly creating the jokey banter, braggadocio, and innuendoes of teenage conversations, MacLaverty introduces a main character who, while a bit more serious and naive than some of his friends, is still a typical teenager facing typical teenage problems. And that, to me, is both the attraction and limitation of this novel. Many readers will chuckle out loud as they relive their own pasts through Martin, but at the conclusion, some may also ask, "Is that all there is?" The superficial resolution of normal teenage predicaments, no matter how well presented here, may not be satisfying for readers who expect a broader treatment of themes and a deeper exploration of inner conflicts. The author's introduction of the Catholic/Protestant violence at the end of the novel seems gratuitous, an overly strong element used to make a generalized point about morality and religion--Martin is almost untouched by The Troubles.
The book pulses with the drama of teenage life, kooky characters, a wonderful feel for the tenuous relationships between teens and adults, and often hilarious repartee--especially with the "dotery coterie" of Martin's mother, the local priest, and her two friends. These individual delights are not fully integrated into a thematic whole, however, and the reader may be left feeling a bit short-changed at the end--thoroughly entertained, but no wiser. Mary Whipple
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A deeply layered, rich and rewarding novel., 19 Sep 2001
By 
johnpelan@msn.com (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Anatomy School (Hardcover)
This book should be on the Booker shortlist.
McLaverty makes his characters totally believable - so convincing are that it seems that they must all really exist.
Clearly a very personal, if not autobiographical,novel The Anatomy School is above all very funny.
The book reveals a sense of the true physicality of human existence.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Vastly over-rated., 28 Nov 2008
By 
R. T. (North Yorkshire UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Anatomy School (Paperback)
I have just read this book for our book club. I found it boring, repetitive, condescending, over-long due to pointless detail, and without real meaning. I generally find some virtue in most books that we read but this one was a struggle. I doubt the authors veracity. How I wish I could have these wasted hours returned to me.
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The Anatomy School
The Anatomy School by Bernard MacLaverty (Paperback - 3 Oct 2002)
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