Reviews for A history of loneliness

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In Boyne's (Boy in the Striped Pajamas) scathing novel about Ireland and the Catholic priesthood, Father Odran Yates tells his story from his youth to the modern era, moving back and forth in time as the truth about pedophilia and the priesthood emerges. The listener follows Father Yates through slices of his life, spending time at seminary, the Vatican, with his family and friends, and eventually at the trial of one of those friends. In all these places tragedy touches his life, often connected to both his family and the church. Father Yates himself seems an ideal man for his job: he is thoughtful, forgiving, humble, asexual, and unworldly. All of these qualities make his condemnation of the church hierarchy and himself all the more damning. Gerard Doyle performs wonderfully, using his native experience of Irish accents to great and mellifluous effect. -VERDICT This is a difficult book but a rewarding one. Highly recommended for listeners of literary fiction who are willing to embrace an iconoclastic work. ["This novel reads like a modern existential fable. Questions it raises will remain with readers long after they put it down": LJ 1/15 review of the Farrar hc.]-Tristan M. Boyd, Austin, TX Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Chaplain at a Dublin boys' school since his ordination, Fr. Odran Yates lives an uncomplicated life. He never doubts his vocation and remains removed from the politics of parish ministry and church administration. After 28 years of quiet stability, however, Yates is forced by the archbishop to take a parish position, substituting for a priest accused of long-term, systematic sexual abuse. The accused cleric himself recommends Yates as his replacement because they were seminary roommates. The tale Yates narrates is a chilling confession of years of emotional distance and self-delusion. In the end, he recognizes a path to some sort of redemption, but will he take it? VERDICT Best known for the YA novel The Boy in Striped Pajamas, Boyne here offers his eighth novel for adults and the first set in his native Ireland. In the person of Father Yates, he unsparingly explores a devastating subject: how the negligence and complicity of clergy and parishioners in Ireland have facilitated sex-scandal cover-ups and misinformation overseen from the highest levels of the Catholic Church. The result reads like a modern existential fable, raising questions that will remain with readers long after they put it down. [See Prepub Alert, 8/11/14.]-John G. Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A priest in Ireland provides a lens on his brethren's sexual abuse of young boys. Best known for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2006), a Holocaust novel for children, Boyne here creates a character who remains stubbornly oblivious as he gets hints of homosexuality and sexual abuse from his youth through his seminary years and as a teacher and parish priest. In a story that jumps back and forth among different periods of his life, Father Odran Yates, the narrator, endures a family tragedy and tries to ignore his sister's early-onset dementia, two of the rare elements in the book untinged by sex. Tom Cardle, his roommate in the seminary and then longtime friend, exposes Odran, at a distance, to sexual desire and then puzzles him as the ordained Tom is too rapidly transferred from one parish to another. Odran becomes a tea server for Pope Paul VI and the short-lived John Paul I during a pointed but implausible interlude in Rome, where he has his libido stirred when he falls hard for a barista. Other Boyne novelshe has written 13 for adults and childrenpresent his take on historical incidents, as this novel does briefly with the 33-day papacy and broadly by putting two characters at the center of Ireland's final unraveling of the complicity of church and police in the sexual abuse scandal. Boyne's strength is dialogue, always sharp and flowing, especially abetted by Irish idiom. His weaknesses here are neon-obvious allusions and a somewhat clunky structure. In between those extremes, he shows a fine sympathy in some of the book's best scenes for the change that good shepherds saw in their flocks, from worshipful respect to loathing. There might have been more art in a subtler take on this Irish horror, but Boyne has conveyed well the message most needed, that silence and denial are heinous crimes as well. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Back