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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Book - a very Irish tragedy
Ruth lies in a bed dying, presumably of a neurodegenerative disease, describing the lives of her family and forefathers in literary reference. Hers is the search for the soul of her father, a compulsive reader and book collector. She believes that she will find him in the 3500 books that are stacked up in her bedroom.
"History of the Rain" is an...
Published 5 months ago by Rashers

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Delightful in many ways, an author with a great deal of talent who needs to focus more on structure.
Absolutely enchanting at first, with the promise of greatness, this delightful book fails to coagulate into anything more solid. It conserves some charm to the end, but in the tradition of Flann O'Brien and so many other Irish writers, it's an evanescent, amorphous, soft-edged collection of anecdotes, rather than a novel. The humorous episode and the charming caricature...
Published 2 days ago by Marius Gabriel


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Book - a very Irish tragedy, 11 Sept. 2014
This review is from: History of the Rain (Hardcover)
Ruth lies in a bed dying, presumably of a neurodegenerative disease, describing the lives of her family and forefathers in literary reference. Hers is the search for the soul of her father, a compulsive reader and book collector. She believes that she will find him in the 3500 books that are stacked up in her bedroom.
"History of the Rain" is an extraordinary book - a winding narrative that describes the weather and economic woes of the West of Ireland, the history of the anglo-irish and the nature and nurture of an impoverished modern Irish family. It is a very Irish book, one that avoids all of the traditional stereotypes but aptly describes the decimation of rural communities following the 2007 "bust". Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. Strangely, throughout the early part of the book the narrator hints at what will/has happened - but just tantalisingly so - enough to grip you into the story - you need to know - must know - how the story resolves. Is this a tragedy? Is it a love story? Is it a roadmap to the nearest library - a love note to literature? It is all of the above. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Naill Williams has taken a simple story and crafted a literary work of art A book to savour and enjoy. I was completely absorbed, 10 Oct. 2014
This review is from: History of the Rain (Hardcover)
A lovingly written book; Naill Williams has taken a simple story and crafted a literary work of art A book to savour and enjoy. I was completely absorbed and convinced by the narrator's voice- a bookish, gravely ill young woman who beguilingly leads you through a kind of odyssy of the highs and lows of her family history and I loved every step. Congratulations to Niall Williams who may may have achieved his own "impossible standard".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Delightful in many ways, an author with a great deal of talent who needs to focus more on structure., 26 Feb. 2015
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Marius Gabriel "Author" (London) - See all my reviews
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Absolutely enchanting at first, with the promise of greatness, this delightful book fails to coagulate into anything more solid. It conserves some charm to the end, but in the tradition of Flann O'Brien and so many other Irish writers, it's an evanescent, amorphous, soft-edged collection of anecdotes, rather than a novel. The humorous episode and the charming caricature are allowed to stand in place of a plot, nothing ever develops into anything approaching a theme. Rain it is, light and persistent, with never a hailstone or a thunderclap to vary the gentle monotony.

As a result, a novel which begins at such a brisk trot soon starts to plod wearily, and the last section is -- sad to say -- rather an ordeal to finish.

I would love to see this very gifted author produce a more ambitious and well-organized work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Arty but without a plot, 17 Jan. 2015
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A very "arty" book in a sort of stream of consciousness style- don't look for a plot, it's pretty well non existent. Author clearly has masses of talent but I prefer a more conventional novel; I would have a go at another if it got reviews that suggested there was more of a story
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bit too sweet for me, 10 Feb. 2015
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I would have longlisted and not shortlisted this book too. It struck me as a bit Dylan Thomas Under Milkwood, but with too much homespun observation for comfort and not enough of the wit. I chose to read it after hearing the author twice on Radio 4 book programmes and could never quite lose his voice while reading the thoughts of the young female narrator. There were some absolutely beautiful bits of crafted writing in it that I feel make it worthy of four stars. The idea of using the books from her inherited library was inspired, but difficult to weave in completely; some references were wonderful, others a bit squeezed in and an awful lot of Dickens.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Irish Misery with a Lighter Heart, 4 Jun. 2014
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This is a well written book with well drawn characters to whom tragedies happen one after another, some self inflicted, some random accidents. None seems to have the capacity to break the circle.

And yet the humour and unusual focus of the narrator - who is in bed with what may be an incurable, terminal illness - provides a lightness as well as a spring to keep the story going to the end.

I can hardly say an enjoyable read, but yes I remember it with affection and recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read. Funny, sad and wonderfully sensitive., 25 Feb. 2015
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Long listed for the Booker Prize, but regrettably not short listed for reasons I don't understand, History of the Rain is quirky, intelligent and oozes sensitivity. The story is narrated by plain Ruth Swain who is dying from cancer. After depicting his forbears in the Swain family as they relocate from Victorian English respectability to rural (and very wet) West of Ireland, she traces the life of her bookish and other-worldly father as he strives to cope with the vicissitudes that befall him. In doing so, we also understand much of how the character of the dying Ruth has come to be. The whole thing could have been so maudlin, but despite its underlying sadness the book is full of humour, optimism and populated with wonderfully entertaining characters. Niall Williams also creates a very strong sense of place - having spent (one only) holiday in this region, the weather and its effect on the landscape felt very familiar to me.

I would thoroughly recommend History of the Rain - but read it slowly and luxuriate in the author's fantastic command of language.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great story, cleverly told., 9 Aug. 2014
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I loved this book and the way it was written, all the illusions to great works of literature made me want to have access to all those books. It was such a clever way to tell a story and the characters became so real as the book unfolded. As well as telling a story of one family, it described very well life in a small village, where nobody has much, but everybody knows about everybody else and they all pull together in a crisis.
Not always an easy read, but a great read. I was sorry when it ended as I still wanted to carry on reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just beautiful, 10 Feb. 2015
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My first venture into Niall Williams territory and I found it absolutely beautiful - one of the best written books I have read in a very long time.
As others have pointed out, there isn't much of a plot, not in the conventional sense, but that didn't bother me at all - it is a story of family and village life and love and hope and tragedy and persistence and the importance of stories.
As the protagonist says, her story meanders like the river, and that's what in the end life is all about.
I found myself laughing out loud at the sometimes cheeky observations of a certain Irishness and crying bitter tears about some of the incredibly insightful little side stories, and I felt transported to Faha, and Ruth's bedroom, and could practically the incessant rain against my windows (mind, that might be because I live in a rather rainy corner of England myself :))
One of those rare books that will stay with me for a long time and that I will probably reread time and time again.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delight to Read, 10 Oct. 2014
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I loved this book with Ruth's slowly unfolding memoir of her dad peppered with literary allusions and in the context of her own potentially terminal illness and then set against a background of rural Ireland and a slow crawl towards modernisation. It could very easily have got too clever but it didn't, or been too cynical about the rural community and it avoided that, while maintaining an extended watery metaphor; the sea, the river and the rain. It reminded me of my own dad, his awkward reverence (Church Going, Larkin Collected Poems, 1988) the slow, methodical way he perused volumes of poetry finding the odd snatches of answers to the clues in his Nemo's Almanac (Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898). He wrote poetry too but could never find his way into the intimacy of words choosing instead the witty riposte or the pastiche - maybe like Ruthie's father he could never be quite good enough.
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History of the Rain
History of the Rain by Niall Williams (Hardcover - 10 April 2014)
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