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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 1999
"What's your favourite..." can be such an irritating question, but for me, for books, there's an instant answer - 'A Prayer For Owen Meany.' I could tell you about angels and armadillos, armless Indians and the headless Mary Magdalene, the lethal baseball, what the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come saw and exactly how it connects with the corpse of a helicopter pilot burned and blistered in Vietnam, and, of course, THE VOICE - and I'd still not manage to get you to the heart of this novel. And the heart is the key to it; like his beloved Dickens, Irving sets out to speak to your emotions, to make you laugh and - ultimately - bring you to tears. It is a masterpiece both of virtuoso plotting and of creating heartbreakingly involving characters. A friend of mine, after finishing the book, said 'For a few days I missed Owen Meany as if I'd known him.' If you do nothing else today, take a recommendation and read this book. Just think of it as my litle gift to you...
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2003
I've just this minute finished Owen Meany and I my eyes are filled with tears. So much is already said about this book. I will simply say that I was impatient through the book, although I enjoyed it, because I didn't understand where it was going. I should have understood all the time that Owen was speaking to me, the reader, as much as to John in saying that "A LITTLE FAITH IS NEEDED".
I perservered (and really it wasn't such a difficult task) and at the end was the reward which was unbelieavbly moving. The most touching story I've ever read - just so emotionally and spiritually big, but accessible. Maybe that was the point. Don't let your impatience get the better of you, treasure every page like you would each moment of your growing child - because the end comes all too soon.
Reaching the conclusion is an epiphany in itself, but its a book full of revelations about humanity and God even to the hardened atheist, the most unsentimental or even the driven agnostic like me. It was a privledge.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2006
5 stars doesn't really do this justice. John Irving transcends perfection with 'A Prayer For Owen Meany'. This book is probably the most moving piece of literature I've ever read. That's not because it's particularly sad. It's more down to the love felt by the narrator towards Owen, and Owen's immense faith.

There's not much more that can be said without ruining the intricate plot. Owen Meany is a magical character and I would recommend this book above any other.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2006
Owen Meany is one of the great fictional characters of our time. In my opinion, this is the novel in which John Irving reaches the peak of his form. The humour, irony, pathos and humanity that Irving puts into all of his novels blends so well here to create the quirkiest of all stories. Owen Meany is maybe the most unlikely hero of any novel but this extraordinary book tells his story and makes us understand what a hero he is. Very moving.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 23 September 2005
I am afraid I wasn't familiar with most of the literary comparisons that, according to the previous reviewer, Irving was making to other books but believe me - you do not need to know them to be gripped by the story and characters. I have neglected John Irvings work since I read The World According To Garp many years ago. Considering I absolutely loved that book too I can only blame my negligence on having and raising children. Now that I am reminded what a great writer he is I shall be ordering his back catalogue straight away. You will remember the characters in this book for a very very long time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2009
This is a really beautifully written novel with a powerful message, and although I didn't immediately fall in love with this book, and did feel that it was somewhat over-hyped, I did persevere to find that it was ultimately worth it, and left something behind (as a good novel often does). I also loved and appreciated the typical Irving mix of humour with tragedy, a kind of black comedy, but with social, political and emotional messages woven through it. Very clever, very readable, and very memorable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2006
This book made me cry, twice at its end. A truly fantastic read, its quite heavy, but enjoyable all the same. Owen Meany is a hugely loveable character, the humour is light and that adds to the book. Even the characters you should hate are richly detailed and fascinating, Mitzy Lish was one of my favourite characters. As was Barbara Wiggin. If you want a slightly surreal, very emotional, gripping read I suggest this book!
There is a song by Jimmy Eat World called Goodbye Sky Harbour which is all about this book.If you enjoy the book I suggest you give the song a listen, you might just well up again!
A few lines from the song;
"Time and time again you say, don't be afraid,"
"So here I am above palm trees so straight and tall,
You are smaller getting smaller but I still see you"
"I am but one small instrument"
The foreshadowing is the highlight of the book for me. Everything comes to a point at the end you start to realise whats going to happen gradually and it builds excitement and suspense. This really is a fantastic book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2001
I don't read a lot but i was that moved by the film "Simon Birch" that i had to read this book. I was not disapointed. In fact i wish someone would make a film about Owen Meany and not just a film suggested by him.
At the time of writing this i had just finished reading the book and still feeling the shock of losing a friend. This is how this book will make you feel.Owen Meany becomes your friend and a friend to be proud of. This is a must for all readers.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2003
It would be pointless to summarise the plot and main features of this terrific novel, as other commentators have done so already. Suffice to say, however, that Owen Meany is a character who stays with the reader long after the book has been put down. John Irving has created a hauntingly beautiful fable in which our personal values are challenged. I have had coversations with complete strangers in bookshops about this novel - and I defy anyone not to weep at the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2007
I could write an entire book about just how good this book is. I only discovered it about half-way through reading all of John Irving's works but it is the one that l return to again and again.
There is a character for everyone in here; someone we can all associate with. In typical Irving style, he creates a cast of many but tells their stories so observantly that we know each individual as if they were our own friends, neighbours, relations and acquaintances.
This book not only took me on a fabulous journey through the formative years of Owen, Johnny et al, but also made me more keenly aware of the politics of war, education and religion, as well as my own attitude to the people close to me.
No matter how many times l read it, l notice something new. It is not in the style of being "un-put-downable" (IMO Irving is not meant to be raced through), and l would advise anyone lucky enough to be reading it for the first time to enjoy the journey, take it all in and remember to breathe as the inevitable conclusion draws closer.
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