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The Speckled People by [Hamilton, Hugo]
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The Speckled People Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Length: 314 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Amazon Review

Why is it that Irish childhoods are somehow more interesting than any other? The Speckled People is yet another tale of rough and tumble childhood in Ireland in the 1950s. Instead of the hard-drinking, lovable father and weak abandoned mother of Frank McCourt's boyhood we're given the odd mix of an Irish nationalist father married to a German immigrant with a Nazi past. The premise seems to be rich and wide, but the whole book turns out to be rather intimate and personal. This is less a comment on Ireland and Germany after the war and more Hugo Hamilton's youthful journey of self discovery.

Hamilton writes in a style that can best be called "Irish immediate". Everything happens in the first person with a sudden awareness and blunt description. This style is charming at first, but wearing with time. Nevertheless, the narrator's exploration of his secret past, his comic boyhood adventures and conflicts captivate the reader, and one is carried away by the story. The interplay between the fierce Irish nationalism and the German identity of the narrator's mother is interesting, but they are only the outward sign of an inward discovery as the narrator strives to understand himself. As in any cross-cultural clash, the conflict ends in a fresh synthesis. So Hugo discovers his own identity and realises that he does not have to be either German or Irish, but a unique blend of both. --Dwight Longenecker

Review

"Never clichd, thanks largely to Hamilton's frankly poetic language and masterful portait of childhood.a beautiful memoir." -- Publishers Weekly

"A prize-delicate, achingly well-observed and wonderfully moving." -- A.L. Kennedy

"A masterful piece of work-timely, inventive, provocative and perfectly weighted. Don't be surprised if it becomes a classic." -- Colum McCann

"Evocative, agitating and inspiriting, Speckled People sticks up for diversity and principled dissent...extending the scope of Irish memoir."--Independent

"A wonderful, subtle, problematic and humane book....about Ireland...about a particular family...about alternatives and complexities anywhere."--Irish Times

"An astonishing account, both delicate and strong, of great issues of twentieth-century Europe, modern Ireland, and family everywhere."--Nuala O'Faolain

"A memoir of childhood that often reads like a craftily composed work of fiction."--Daily Telegraph (London)

"A masterful piece of work--timely, inventive, provocative and perfectly weighted. Don't be surprised if it becomes a classic."--Colum McCann

"A prize--delicate, achingly well-observed and wonderfully moving."--A.L. Kennedy

"A fine and timely book from an exquisitely gifted writer...beautiful, subtle, unflashy, perfectly realized and quite extraordinarily powerful."--Joseph O'Connor

"A memoir of warmth and wisdom...tender and profound and, best of all, tells the truth. I loved it."--Patrick McCabe

"The most gripping book I've read in ages...a fascinating, disturbing and often very funny memoir."--Roddy Doyle

"Full of several different kinds of passion with a real tragedy at its heart."--Margaret Forster

"Hamilton's style is an engaging mix of the salty and literary."--New York Times Book Review

"Hamilton's most successful book to date, after building up a fine reputation as a novelist."--Irish Voice

"A fine reminder that there are many ways of being Irish."--New York Newsday

"An astonishing achievement...a landmark in Irish nonfiction...a masterpiece."--Washington Post

"Never clich?d, thanks largely to Hamilton's frankly poetic language and masterful portait of childhood...a beautiful memoir."--Publishers Weekly

"A complex and layered story, intriguingly different from all those other Irish-childhood memoirs."--Orlando Sentinel

"The long wait for this most talented novelist to cast his eye over his homeland has been worth it."--GQ

"Unlike most Irish memoirs, this one is devoid of sentimentality. Which doesn't make it any the less heartrending. "--Philadelphia Inquirer

An astonishing achievement...a landmark in Irish nonfiction a masterpiece. --Washington Post"

A fine reminder that there are many ways of being Irish. --New York Newsday"

Hamilton s most successful book to date, after building up a fine reputation as a novelist. --Irish Voice"

Unlike most Irish memoirs, this one is devoid of sentimentality. Which doesn t make it any the less heartrending. --Philadelphia Inquirer"

A complex and layered story, intriguingly different from all those other Irish-childhood memoirs. --Orlando Sentinel"

Never clich?d, thanks largely to Hamilton s frankly poetic language and masterful portait of childhood a beautiful memoir. --Publishers Weekly"

An astonishing account, both delicate and strong, of great issues of twentieth-century Europe, modern Ireland, and family everywhere. --Nuala O'Faolain"

A wonderful, subtle, problematic and humane book....about Ireland...about a particular family...about alternatives and complexities anywhere. --Irish Times"

Evocative, agitating and inspiriting, Speckled People sticks up for diversity and principled dissent...extending the scope of Irish memoir. --Independent"

A memoir of childhood that often reads like a craftily composed work of fiction. --Daily Telegraph (London)"

The most gripping book I ve read in ages...a fascinating, disturbing and often very funny memoir. --Roddy Doyle"

A prizedelicate, achingly well-observed and wonderfully moving. --A.L. Kennedy"

A masterful piece of worktimely, inventive, provocative and perfectly weighted. Don t be surprised if it becomes a classic. --Colum McCann"

A memoir of warmth and wisdom...tender and profound and, best of all, tells the truth. I loved it. --Patrick McCabe"

Full of several different kinds of passion with a real tragedy at its heart. --Margaret Forster"

A fine and timely book from an exquisitely gifted writer...beautiful, subtle, unflashy, perfectly realized and quite extraordinarily powerful. --Joseph O'Connor"

The long wait for this most talented novelist to cast his eye over his homeland has been worth it. --GQ"

Hamilton s style is an engaging mix of the salty and literary. --New York Times Book Review"

A prize delicate, achingly well-observed and wonderfully moving. --A.L. Kennedy"

A masterful piece of work timely, inventive, provocative and perfectly weighted. Don t be surprised if it becomes a classic. --Colum McCann"

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 642 KB
  • Print Length: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (11 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BS06SN4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #89,520 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I found The Speckled People after encountering a fascinating article by Hugo Hamilton in a UK newspaper on the "Loneliness of Being German". Similar to the article, the book immediately struck a chord with me. Those living within and without their own language will find a special connection to this book. Language as the identification of "home" and "country" and "language wars" are explored here in a rather exceptional way - through the voice and outlook of a growing child. Like a patchwork quilt the vignette chapters of the book come together for the reader to form an exquisitely drawn portrait. His family is pictured against the backdrop of their Irish reality of poverty and want in the fifties and sixties. Complexities are accentuated by his dual identity as a child of an Irish nationalist father and a German mother who left Germany after the war.
While The Speckled People is an intimately personal chronicle of his youth, Hamilton's story has significance far beyond the autobiography genre. There are advantages and challenges in using the language of a child. On the one hand, experiences can be conveyed in a direct and innocent way. Johannes (Hugo) has not yet learned to query all he observes: "When you're small you know nothing". He is a sensitive and perceptive child who intuits that there are more untold dramas in the family. "You can inherit a secret without even knowing what it is." On the other hand, it may be difficult to maintain the language as the boy's capacity to analyze and reflect becomes more pronounced with age. Hamilton succeeds admirably in keeping his style consistent even where he integrates numerous events from the wider world as they become relevant to the young boy. As you settle into his style, the narrative becomes deeply absorbing.
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Format: Hardcover
On The American cover of this book is one of the most charming photographs of a young child reading. The picture has much greater relevance, as it is not simply a wonderful photograph chosen for the cover of a book, rather a picture of a young Hugo Hamilton. The author characterizes his early years in post war Europe as the child of an Irish mother and a German father by stating, “We knew about losing, we were Irish and German”.
This autobiography is not like many I have read by before, especially those set in Ireland. This is not a fairy tale that is ruled by wicked characters from Dickens or a childhood that is unfamiliar with happiness. The most bizarre character that struck me was his father, an ultra nationalist obsessed with Gaelic. For this man absolutely everything secured its destruction by whether or not Gaelic was the written or spoken word. This was a man who would imperil his family financially not because there was a lack of work rather those he worked for did not address his mail in Gaelic. His children were made near recluses, as he would not allow them to interact with any children that did not come from a home that shared his strict and bizarre views of language. When his strange fixation on language was added to the prejudice the children experienced as a result of lingering German prejudice, there was plenty for this man to write about. As happens in many instances his Mother was a critical influence and she is interesting to read of as well.
This is a beautifully written work but is not one that will constantly raise your spirits. I found it to be melancholy, but a very worthwhile use of your reading time.
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Format: Paperback
This book was recommended to me, and although I'm not a great fan of memoirs, I enjoyed it immensely. Its real value for me is the character study of the author's father who proves to be frustrating, and flawed character. His mother's story is equally important and is told in a more understated style. I loved the subtle observation of family dynamics. What impressed me most was the way in which, despite the fact that this is an unflattering portrait of his father, I couldn't help but feel a touch of admiration for someone who believed in his principles so deeply and stuck to them at such cost to himself and his family.
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Format: Paperback
Hamilton's "speckled people" is a really profound, moving and well-written book. An Irish speaker myself who also has fluent English (of course) fluent French and Italian and who lived in three different countries in the past, needless to say I was fascinated by Hamilton's reflection on homesickeness and multiculturalism/multilingual education. That book is well written and I think the writer comes across as being a good person too, which is always a nice thing about some authors and some books. I certainly feel I would like meeting Hamilton in person. What I found truly inspiring in the novel is Hamilton's style, particularly the way in which he describes the sticky uneasinness of childhood, not in an over dramatised way but in a vivid way that would ring very true to those who feel they had a not altogether bad, but somewhat strange childhood experience. I would recommend this book to any bi-national, linguist or indeed anyone who loves a deep book written in an elegant way.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like the way this book was written. I felt as if I was in there with the author and his family. It felt like a very honest account of what it's like being a 'halfy-halfy' and not feeling like you belong anywhere or are accepted anywhere. I'm a 'speckled' person myself so I know what it's like. My Grandparents were from Southern Ireland, my Mum grew up in Britain and my Dad was Polish so I know exactly what it's like having a foot in two worlds. This book also gave me an insight into my Irish history, which I'm ashamed to say I know nothing about. It was an informative, thought provoking and interesting read
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