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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly captures the state of being 10-years-old
I had only read one Roddy Doyle short story before picking up 'Paddy Clarke...', and now I'm addicted. Doyle manages to write so convincingly from the perspective of a ten-year-old that it's impossible to put this book down. It isn't just the language (and the use of native terms is only a small stumbling block), but he also captures the mannerisms and thoughts so...
Published on 10 Aug 2001

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work
I found this book rather hard going to read as it seems to me very disjointed and doesn't flow well. The insights into childhood are great and the dialogue is cracking on the whole but somehow the lack of plot means that the book just doesn't get going. My least favourite of the Barrytown triolgy.
Published on 28 Sep 2007 by G. Bilson


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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly captures the state of being 10-years-old, 10 Aug 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Paperback)
I had only read one Roddy Doyle short story before picking up 'Paddy Clarke...', and now I'm addicted. Doyle manages to write so convincingly from the perspective of a ten-year-old that it's impossible to put this book down. It isn't just the language (and the use of native terms is only a small stumbling block), but he also captures the mannerisms and thoughts so accurately. What results is a book that reminds you of your own childhood, the fun things, the scary things and the incomprehensible things. Paddy's bewilderment at grown-ups behaviour is explained through the application of child's logic - he is forever asking "Why?", and never gets an answer.
The book has some hilarious moments, but never tries to be a comedy. It also has some tragic moments, which are treated lightly because of Paddy's minimal grasp of the adult world. He has many flaws which are obvious to the reader but hidden from his own view.
Possibly the best book I have ever read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Roddy Doyle - Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha..., 19 Oct 2003
By 
D. Burke (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Paperback)
This is a unique book, which describes with great detail the world around a young irish boy, and how he perceives it. Full of heart warming humour, family hardships and his realtionships with other people. Roddy Doyle has done something very unique with this book, we are understanding the world in which we live as a young boy. We go through the rigours of childhood such as games, school, friends and ofcourse mischief. The book is not continuous and the author jumps from school to playing with his friends quite suddenly, this may be found to some to be difficult to understand, however throughout the story there is one thing which remains constant and that is how he learns more about the world around him and we see relationships develop. This book has only been given four stars due to the sometimes unexpected stark changes in story, however the ability of the book to actually put you in the mind of the boy is something many other authors are unable to achieve. You will find it hard to put down as you become gradually more engrossed with the boys life and his constantly changing opinions of the world.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It restored the word "gick" to my vocabulary, 22 Jan 2007
By 
Mr. Kevin Hargaden (Maynooth, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Paperback)
Classic Doyle. I've wanted to read this book for over 10 years and I finally got around to it this weekend. It is a superb insight into the mind of a young boy, but it is set in a Dublin that has long since vanished and typically Doyle manages to communicate so much through his dialogue.

The book follows little Paddy Clarke as he reflects on life. He is a kid and so the story jumps for serious to trivial in the space of a paragraph. He is a smart kid though so you end up laughing out loud constantly at the scrapes he gets into. I was once a little boy and the unflinching cruelty that their ignorance can bring out is captured superbly by Doyle. This is no sentimentalising of childhood. Clarke is a little brat at times.

As the novel progresses we get to see a child's eye view of the breakup of a marriage and the effect that this has on the world the protagonist lives in. It is done with real expertise. I have read some reviews that had difficulty with the plot-less-ness of the book, but for me Paddy is the subject. He is a boy who is telling us how things are. Of course he won't be able to impose a plot on events.

Its a typically witty, warm and insightful read from Doyle's Barrytown days. You'll love it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An emotional escapade..., 29 Dec 2009
By 
E. Gillingham - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Paperback)
It is understandable why Roddy Doyle's fourth novel, `Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha', was awarded the 1993 Man Booker prize. Despite initially being a tale about a young boy's "fun and adventure" during 1960's Ireland, the novel expresses deeper meaning, conveying the drastic effect family life can have on a child.

The early part of the novel can seem confusing, with no clear chronological structure. In one paragraph, Paddy is being stung by stinging nettles - in the next, he is at home learning about fingerprints from his "da". Yet, do not let this dissuade you. After the first dozen pages, it is clear that Doyle mixes up time periods and key events - an effective technique that portrays the confusion of Paddy about his parents' deteriorating relationship. The lack of ordered structure only increases the empathy felt for Paddy in this moving story.

Despite addressing somewhat serious matters, Doyle includes snippets of child-like humor throughout, which will not fail to make you smile. Doyle's incorporation of humor will have you reminiscing about your own childhood memories - the games you played, the nicknames you made, and the adventures you had. He captures innocence in a way that will make you want to protect Paddy from the harsh realities of life, be his friend.

Whilst this is not necessarily an "I-can't-wait-to-get-home-and-read-it" book, it is nevertheless compelling when you do pick it up and start reading. Doyle involves the reader in Paddy's life, narrating it from his point of view, and allowing us to see his inner thoughts and feelings. The closer you near the end of the book, the clearer it is that Paddy's home life has changed him from a boy who was once scared of the dark, to one who, in "pitch black ... still wasn't scared". This is a novel that will certainly appeal to readers looking for an emotional escapade.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving Description of Childhood and the Leaving of It, 8 April 2009
This review is from: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Paperback)
This book was published in 1993. It described a few years in an Irish boy's life from around age 8 to 10 in the mid- to late 1960s, in his own voice.

I enjoyed most the way the novel showed the narrator's development -- in perception, use of language, self-understanding. From the beginning, when the only concern was the love of play, the daily explorations and sadistic competitions with friends and baby brother, and early role models like Father Damien and Daniel Boone. Simple joys like the smell of a mother's meal, a warm blanket at night, a compliment won from a father, and a shared laugh with parents. To the first bicycle, the growing love of sport, the radio and television, and inklings of the power of language, including swear words, of course. To the brink of adolescence, where the comforts of a stable home and simple friendships were left behind, and conflicted emotions had to be accepted. It brought back many memories.

For this reader, the story passed over too quickly the religious education of the day, which must have had more impact, as well as the thrill of going to the cinema and the first glimmers that there was more to kissing than at first seemed apparent. The story seemed to lose something of its focus and intensity after the first 100 or so pages and might've gained from some tightening. This at least was the impression I got from the author's style of moving rapidly from one scene and subject to another. Moving ending, though.

Excerpt near the beginning:

"Our names were all around Barrytown, on the roads and paths. You had to do it at night when they were all gone home, except the watchmen. Then when they saw the names in the morning it was too late, the cement was hard."

Later on:

"Sometimes, when you were thinking about something, trying to understand it, it opened up in your head without you expecting it to, like it was a soft spongy light unfolding, and you understood, it made sense forever . . . . Sometimes you gave up and suddenly the sponge opened. It was brilliant, it was like growing taller."

"I didn't listen to them. They were only kids."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work, 28 Sep 2007
By 
G. Bilson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Paperback)
I found this book rather hard going to read as it seems to me very disjointed and doesn't flow well. The insights into childhood are great and the dialogue is cracking on the whole but somehow the lack of plot means that the book just doesn't get going. My least favourite of the Barrytown triolgy.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling and intuitive account of childhood. Brilliant., 5 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Paperback)
Having never read any of Doyle's novels prior to 'Paddy Clarke', I appoached this book with a certain naivety. I recall beginning this book on a crowded tube train and realising, almost immediately, that it was to be a novel of much depth and would require considerable concentration.
The tale is told by a ten-year-old boy called Patrick Clarke and is set, as you would expect, in Dublin. It soon becomes apparent that to successfully navigate this book you must first learn to appreciate some genuine Gaelic lingo. This doesn't present too much of a problem as the learning process only adds to the enjoyment of the book.
The account of Paddy's outlook on life conveys us back in time to an age when the world's greatest woes were classroom quarrels and would you make the under 11's football team this year. It's a truely nostalgic distraction from the troubles of adult life; it's the childhood we try to convince ourselves that we've left behind, but never leaves us fully.
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is both hilarious and painfully tragic. It's an artful mix of warm-hearted humour and the trials of family life. Brilliantly written, Doyle portrays Paddy's endeavours in an enchanting, captivating and, sometimes, blatantly painful manner. This makes a recipe for a novel you just can't put down and puts in perspective the things we truely need to cherish.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enchanting read, 9 Dec 2011
This review is from: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Paperback)
I found this book on the shelf of a youth hostel in Latvia, years ago. It had been left there by one of the past hostel goers and I thought the title was intriguing. I picked it up and from the first two pages I was already mesmerized.
I only managed to read 50 pages of it that night, and I felt awful for not being able to read on. I also considered actually taking it with me, but I just couldn't. So I ordered it and it was waiting for me at home when I got back from my Baltic trip.
It is now one of my favourites. A beautiful description of the world of childhood, its naivety, the alliances, the tiny wars. The events of the book happen with his parent's deteriorating relationship as a background, and we catch subtle glimpses of that through the 10 year old boy's eyes.
He gradually grows up under our careful watch and we nostalgically see him leaving the world of childhood behind, understanding more of the adult world and its adult turmoil.
A gem of a book, masterfully written to make you feel you're reading a 10 year old Irish boy's confession, complete with accent, particularities of age and wit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha'- heartwarming and heartbreaking all in one., 7 Dec 2011
This review is from: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Paperback)
`Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha' follows the trials and tribulations of a 10 year old boy in 1968 from Barrytown.

It was Roddy Doyle's 4th novel and the only one to have won the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 1993. The novel is totally unique, inspiring, but heartbreaking all in one. Some key themes from `Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha' are explored in Doyle's other novels but this novel still retains the individuality and originality that it deserves.

The story is delivered through the fictional character of Paddy Clarke and alongside delivers; a boyish charm and the uncertainties that he faces. The novels style is captivating in its individual writing style as it does not use the literary convention of chapters to divide up the book but a series of scenes which Paddy recalls in no chronological order. The structure reinforces the child narrator, and develops the idea of him being inexperienced.

The story line initially represents Paddy as a happy-go-lucky child with an imagination larger than life. The child-like nature of the book is beautifully conveyed by the vivid language of Paddy and his gang; staging a Viking funeral for a rat, the fires started, and the robbing of women's magazines; not because they wanted them but, because they were the easiest to take without being caught. The frequent use of Irish colloquialisms placed me, as the reader, back in 1968, in Barrytown.

Tragically, as the narrative develops, Paddy's child-like qualities are replaced with worry and sorrow. The deteriorating relationship of his `ma' and `da' retrieves a heartbreaking theme in the narrative. The night when which Paddy convinces himself that he can stop his parents arguing as long as he stays awake all night, is particularly distressing. Through Paddy being robbed of his childhood and dragged into adulthood by the breakdown of his parent's marriage, he realises: "They were both to blame. It took two to tango. It didn't take three; there was no room for me." This marked a turning point, one that I as the reader was glad to have reached.

The latter scenes of Doyle's masterpiece recognises Paddy's younger brother as a companion, someone to stay up with whilst their parents argue. This contrasts how he was presented in the early parts of the novel as; Sinbad was seen as a nuisance to the gang, a burden, and one of which casual cruelties could be inflicted upon. The changing opinion only furthers the idea of Paddy's developing levels of maturity throughout the duration of the novel.

Doyle has created a beautifully heart-wrenching portrait of a young boy's agonies and ecstasies as this point in his childhood. `Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha' is funny, exciting, unpredictable, heartbreaking, and hard to put down. It is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and would recommend.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching from start to finish, 27 Jan 2003
By 
S. J. Smith - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Paperback)
I suppose you need to have lived this life, at least in part, to truly recognise this book for all it's worth.

Silver spoons, lavish christmas mornings, a never-ending supply of pocket money, parents who couldn't say "NO!". Hmm... perhaps those amongst you currently nodding internally should steer clear if 'seeing how the other half live' isn't your idea of a gripping read. Then again, it could be an education if you've no idea how the poor manage from day to day.

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is a memorable insight to the trauma, tragedy, love and laughter of 'blue collar' family life. The fact that the main protagonist is a mere 10 years old only helps strengthen the narrative structure. Each turn of events throughout the book is laced with the innocence and confusion surely all of us have experienced at one time or another during childhood.

The book is more profound if you allow yourself to search through your own memories and connect to those of Paddy. It's not hard to do so if the home surroundings within the story and the events therein are familiar to you.

Personally, they are... sometimes very much so. Doyle's observations, reactions and interpretations within the family unit are priceless. Anyone from a working class background will relate on every level.

Read and be enriched....
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