7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Fields (Hardcover)
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When the first few pages describe the death of a family cat followed shortly by a gory description of what happened when a young schoolgirl was hit in the mouth by a hockey ball I suspected that I wasn't in for the most lightest of reads. Although the book goes on to venture into the darkest of areas, including child molestation, abortion, miscarriage, under-age sex, terrorism and cancer, this is essentially is very funny book which, for the most part, was a pleasure to read.
During the course of the 300 or so pages of this story young Dubliner Jim Finnegan goes through hell. Like a junior version of TV's The Fast Show's Unlucky Alf, just about everything that could go wrong in his life actually does go wrong. Despite everything though, Jim struggles through, aided by his natural bounce-backability, naiveness (which to be fair, causes some of his problems in the first place) and sheer optimism of youth. Jim is memorable lead character, very likeable but with also possessing a slightly darker side in his nature that occasionally reveals itself.
Apart from Jim, perhaps the other leading character in this book is the city of Dublin. Although they are very different in tone, I couldn't help but compare Jim Finnegans Dublin to the Dublin described in Roddy Doyle's Barrytown trilogy. Dublin is shown to be a quirky place, full of characters always in search of the craic, but also a city where religion rules and the parish priest is seen as ultimate authority figure. In fact it is only when Jim travels away from Dublin to spend time in London, does the book start to flag. These final few chapters rather let down the book down a little, particularly when Jim gets involved with Astral Sciences and gets hooked up with a community that believes in the power of new age healing. I found this section to be the only part of the book that was not totally believable, which is a shame because it is directly linked with the final denouement of the story.