- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (10 Oct. 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1501145185
- ISBN-13: 978-1501145186
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 21 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 712,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Himself Paperback – 10 Oct 2017
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"A highly unusual tale set in a highly unusual Irish village full of dark secrets and engaging characters (not all of them still alive). Lushly imagined, delightfully original and very, very funny, it hurtles along from the very first page. A hugely enjoyable read. I can't wait for more from Jess Kidd."--M.L. Stedman, bestselling author of The Light Between Oceans
"Jess Kidd is a genius. Her prose sparkles with wit, savagery and startling originality. I loved it."--Tasha Kavanagh, author of Things We Have In Common
"I love this book. It's a magic realist murder mystery set in rural Ireland, in which the dead play as important a part as the living. It's one of those books that has you smiling as you read, and that you plan to read again very soon."--Louis de Bernières, bestselling author of Corelli's Mandolin
"[A] fast-paced yarn that nimbly soars above the Irish crime fiction genre Kidd clearly knows very well."--New York Times Book Review
"Over in Dublin, Jess Kidd's Himself is her supernaturally skillful debut. Irish eyes are glowing."--Vanity Fair
"For the love of all that's right and true in the world, you've got to read Jess Kidd's debut Himself (Atria), a fabulously imaginative, darkly comic Irish tale set 'in the arse-end of beyond' in a village called Mulderigg. Reading this picaresque novel is like nursing a pint in a pub while a seanchaí, a traditional storyteller, trills the air with magic and mystery and a local modulates the narrative with irreverent commentary from a stool in the corner...In Mahony, the author has created a literary descendant of Henry Fielding's "Tom Jones" (also a foundling with parental issues), and in Mulderigg she's imagined a literary neighborhood akin to Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Macondo, a place populated with eccentric characters, living and dead. The plot races to an ending of Biblical proportions (as most Irish tales do) and it'll bring tears to your sorry eyes and joy to your hardened heart."--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"[A] whimsical mystery... That's the pleasure of Himself -- the way the novel's plot, with its delicate language and soft Irish lilt, wanders like lush green vines, never seeming to travel in straight lines. A villageful of characters emerge, all of them having a deft way with a line... The mystery here is how the living and the dead live side by side, and the joy is the music with which Kidd brings all of the characters to life."--The Seattle Times
"Himself is Jess Kidd's confident, engaging debut novel. It has a captivating ensemble cast, great jolts of humor and danger, hair-raising plot twists and just enough darkness to make the magic feel true. A thoroughly enjoyable read."--Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Debut novelist Jess Kidd is so sure-handed that this reader didn't blink an eye about that dead girl, or any of the other dead characters loitering about the town's streets, homes, and stores... [A]n ancient, long-retired actress, holed up in the guesthouse where he's staying, may be the most memorable fictional character I've met in years. She's fully original and fearless, and her machinations with both Mahoney and the local priest are laugh-out-loud funny... Kidd's memorable page-turner features a unique voice, a concoction brewed of magical realism and dark humor... It would be a pity to miss reading this fine, funny and entertaining story,"--Historical Novels Review
"Himself is a classic, feeding the reader through a multisensory smorgasbord of Irish euphemisms...The snappy dialogue in Himself is delightful and a strong asset to Kidd's flawless storytelling. The story breathes metaphors into sweet descriptive prose, pulling at heartstrings and bursting with humor...Foul play, fantasy, and a glimmer of romance wrapped up in a suspense-filled ending, makes Himself a delicious, gratifying and ageless story."--New York Journal of Books
About the Author
Jess Kidd is an award-winning author with a PhD in creative writing from St. Mary's University in London. She grew up as part of a large family from Ireland's County Mayo and now lives in London with her daughter. Her first book, Himself, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards. Learn more at JessKidd.com.
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The book proper begins with chapter one set in April 1976 as a young man from Dublin named Mahony arrives in the town of Mulderrig. Now what do you think are the odds that Mr. Mahony is the baby son of that murdered woman? Right, they’re pretty good odds indeed. The reader will deduce this quickly but the folks in Mulderrig won’t catch on for a while.
Mahony’s landlady, Mrs. Cauley, recruits him to help audition locals as performers in the town’s Christmas play. During the auditions Mrs. Cauley sneaks in many questions about Orla Sweeney and her whereabouts, a woman who turns out to be Mahony’s missing mother. All this curiosity causes a much greater interest by the townspeople in Mahony and just what he is doing in their town.
Mahony, Mrs. Cauley, and other friends begin an investigation of the various characters in Mulderrig and who might be suspects in Orla’s disappearance. There’s even a supernatural element involved; the images of many dead citizens appear at different times to point the way.
The unique charm of the Irish way of writing English prose is another enjoyable feature of this novel. You’ll have a grand time as long as you don’t get banjaxed by a wayward undesirable one. Fair play to you!
The earth, wind, deceased spirits and lively characters meet with his will to help find the truth.
Cannot think of a better St Paddy's Day read than this Kindle book, just $1.99 from Amazon.
Mahoney returns to Mulderrig, although he has no memory of being there, it was in Mulderrig he was born. Raised in a Dublin orphanage, he never knew his mother, has no memory of her or of family, or even of this place.
”She couldn’t have known it but it was then that her baby stopped crying. The void her son had fallen into without the cradle of her gaze was immeasurable. He lay as mute as a little mushroom.”
He’s an adult now, old enough to search for her, for the reasons why she abandoned him. Who, and where he comes from.
At first Mahoney’s presence goes mostly unnoticed by the mortal members of town, but Mahoney is aware of those beyond the realm who hover around him, teasing him with their presence. Their eyes tell so much, and nothing at all at the same time.
”For the dead are drawn to those with shattered souls”.
He is aware of the others, can see them, but he can’t see her. His mother. Orla Sweeney.
He has a photograph of her, where she’s holding him as an infant, given to him as he was leaving the Orphanage. Sister Veronica had left him an envelope, his real name, and the town of his birth: Mulderrig. He knows from the note that he was taken from his mother, by unknown townspeople, because his mother was “the curse of the town.”
”His dark eyes are her eyes, the shape of his face, hers. The way he stands with his weight shifted back on his heels and his nose in the air, hers.”
And so, Mahoney arrives in Mulderrig in search of himself.
Jess Kidd shares her story in writing that is lovely, inspired, ingenious, and quintessentially Irish in the colloquial expressions. The mysterious mystical setting revealed with enough cleverness and wit to keep the heebie-jeebies at bay. Her characters are complex, including the intimidating local priest to Mrs. Cauley, a rather unconventional, wealthy, former theatre actress who is not afraid of much, and who takes Mahoney a bit under her wing.
The hairs at the back of my neck stood up often, but perhaps most often at the splendor of her prose. Still there is an element that many would consider supernatural. Creepy, even.
”It is a truth universally acknowledged that when the dead are trying to remember something, the living are trying harder to forget it.
Magical, moving, magnificent debut novel from Jess Kidd. I loved ”Himself”, a uniquely beautiful blend of genres, a tale of love and loss, grief, and of secrets kept too long. Secrets that might rise from the grave under the right conditions and circumstances. With a little help.