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Broken Irish

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  214 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
“Epic in its scope but relentlessly compelling in its storytelling—not a common combination—Broken Irish is a splendidly readable and richly textured novel. Edward J. Delaney is an enormously gifted writer.” —ROBERT OLEN BUTLER

"In Edward J. Delaney's South Boston little is lost, nothing forgotten. Old sins, old wounds haunt his characters, young and old, and reverberate th
Paperback, 379 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by Turtle Point Press (first published September 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 484)
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Rebecca Burke
Nov 30, 2011 Rebecca Burke rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like literary fiction, Irish-American fiction, fiction about social / political themes
Loved the writing--masterful. Good pace. Appreciated the way the book was broken up into the stories of representative characters from South Boston--priest, young toughs, single mom, et al. Fantastic handling of dialogue, which always sounded authentic despite including a broad range of types and ages.

At the end of the day, however, this story has been told in many other books and movies. From the priest who couldn't keep his hands off little boys to the alcoholic writer, to the tycoon who "esc
Apr 05, 2012 Heather rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 24, 2012 Pgricchi rated it really liked it
This novel, as dark as Mystic River and with similar themes, is disturbing because it is so believable. Many of its threads are not neatly tied off, that is frustrating but also part of the realism.
Nicolas Shump
May 29, 2012 Nicolas Shump rated it really liked it
Delaney is certainly a talented writer. The jacket talks about his short story collections and a few prizes he has won, but I think this is his first novel. I would recommend this novel for someone who is looking for a compelling narrative, but is also unafraid of a book with literary trappings. The novel is set in South Boston, or Southie, as it is affectionately known. It involves a group of approximately a half dozen characters whose stories do occasionally intersect and with one or two of th ...more
Richard Wise
Jun 29, 2014 Richard Wise rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Delaney's book tells the dark tale of five Irish Americans who are growing or have grown up in South Boston.

known as "Southie" to most Bostonians. South Boston first came to prominence in the school busing crisis made the news in the mid-Seventies when Judge Garrity ordered busing to achieve racial balance and the Irish residents exploded in anger. Home of Louise Day Hicks and Whitey Bolger, Southie has a well deserved reputation as the last stronghold of the Boston Irish.

Almost a fictional ethn
Brittany Delaney
Jun 01, 2015 Brittany Delaney rated it really liked it
An absolutely compelling read by Delaney.

The characters are authentic and relatable in a way you don't find in many books. From the frustration of Colleen to the anger of Chuck to the pressure felt by Christopher, it is riveting read their progression through the course of the novel.

Delaney masterfully ends the novel in a way that hints to one solid conclusion but allows for a great amount of wiggle room in what could be the truth of the matter. Did Rafferty arrange the murder of Jeanmarie or wa
Mar 18, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it
I loved this book...right up to end. After a thoughtful and intelligent story, written beautifully, the author left me with too many unanswered questions.
Sep 27, 2015 Juliet rated it it was amazing
Clever and beautiful. Layered and intricate. Thrilling and sad. Astonishing stuff. Like an episode of Law and Order times 100.
Feb 04, 2013 Katherine rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
*Really 3.5 stars.

“There is the circus of pans and burners, of smoke and sputter” (25).
“…the receptionist watches him with the wariness of someone who still cannot pinpoint the problem she knows is hanging in the air” (37).
“Jimmy expects that Rafferty only has to interact with the climate’s vicissitudes on a country-club fairway or the deck of a yacht, which is hardly the same” (47).
“…a man shaped like a mountain with the fat foothills of his hips and stomach rising up humped shoulders…” (52).
Sep 03, 2012 Dax rated it liked it
oooh....another book about whitey ! Okay, not about Whitey after all. The book takes place in the late 90's after Whitey went on the lam. He does get a mention here and there but this is basically a post-Whitey Bulger South Boston. Of course, it's the same old Southie, just with different bad guys. Young teens struggling to escape the life they see ahead of them. Parents unable to manage these same kids, wondering where they went wrong.The Catholic church falling apart. Cops and teamsters exerti ...more
May 09, 2016 Pam rated it liked it
If you like a book that ties up all the loose ends by its conclusion, then this one might not be for you. I was actually OK with the questions remaining because there was resolution to the primary plot line of the story. This tale is compelling because while being presented with seemingly unrelated storylines, you somehow know that they are going to come together in the end. I couldn't stop reading to find out how. If you saw the movie, Spotlight, you just might want to read this novel that is s ...more
Candace Chesler
May 26, 2016 Candace Chesler rated it did not like it
Stories of South Boston told through the intertwined lives of five residents. Lots of angst and anger with some pedophilia and prostitution thrown in. The stories did not segue well. Half way through I had a glimmer of hope that we might get some resolution for travails of some of the characters. I stuck with the book to the end - and was disappointed. Too many threads left undone.
Feb 07, 2016 Pat rated it really liked it
Set in South Boston (Southie) in the late 1990s, this is a haunting story of the effects on generations of Irish Americans of poverty, gun violence, alcoholism and unfettered pedophilia by members of the Catholic clergy. There are six main characters whose stories come together throughout the book and at the end. The characters include a widow with a troubled teenage son, an elderly priest with disturbing secrets, a shrewd businessman with a history that leads from a hardscrabble life to financi ...more
Michael Finer
Jan 29, 2015 Michael Finer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

One of the best books that I have ever read! It was an absolute delight to read and hard to put down!
Anne Totoro
Sep 06, 2014 Anne Totoro rated it liked it
For me this is more of a 2.5 interesting read but an unfinished story. Also, it bothered me that the author used the word "affect" so often.
Chelsea Yergens
Character driven, slower pace, fairly sad.
Jul 14, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it
A snapshot into a period of time in the lives of several people from South Boston. There are four alternating story lines which have common threads running throughout. Each character deals with a personal demon which has in some way been amplified by the abuses of the Catholic Church, the Irish gang influence of the area and the struggles of growing up a "Southie". This is not a fun, uplifting story, but a grim portrait of an actual place and a deeply provocative look at the people who live and ...more
Barbara Gavin
Jun 13, 2014 Barbara Gavin rated it liked it
Great story telling!
Colleen Veard
Dec 02, 2012 Colleen Veard rated it liked it
A good book that weaves several characters together . I liked the way things were always right in front of you but there connection not always clear ,when suddenly you would get the sad "aha" moment of understanding. Not a likable character among them but an excellent snapshot of a time and place . A book that stays with you after you're finished. I may have given it 3 1/2 stars if possible.
Mar 14, 2012 Eileen rated it it was ok
The title is appropriate. I was drawn to it because of the Irish element and the setting in south Boston. Several times I decided not to finish, but slogged on, hoping for some light at the end of the tunnel. As the story unfolded the tragedies compounded. It was frustrating and terribly sad. Powerful, but I won't be reading anything else by this author.
Stephen Mark
Feb 17, 2013 Stephen Mark rated it really liked it
A lot of dramatic things happen in this story but it never strays from being a literary rather than a sensational outing. We get to know a slice of south boston through its characters' wins and losses, including some tawdry misadventures, but the focus is on the working class people themselves, and you come away feeling elevated.
Aug 28, 2012 Lexie rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Set in Boston in the late 1990s; readers of *Mystic River* might enjoy it. Ordinary lives collide; characters run away from home, sobriety, truth, memory.


... secrets do not fully die but, rather, remain embedded more deeply than one can fully comprehend. The inextinguishable flame of memory.

Mara S
Apr 01, 2012 Mara S rated it liked it
Liked this, especially since I'm at school in Boston- was pretty cool to be able to visualize different things. Only issue I had was with the ending. . . felt like there were a few loose ends. There were many different stories blending into one, and I loved the way the story came together- very very neat!!
Dec 26, 2011 Nette rated it liked it
A couple of the other reviewers nailed it: interesting plot, great dialog, sympathetic characters but the ending -- well, there really ISN'T an ending. It's like the author just threw in the towel after a certain number of pages. It was the novelistic equivalent of the TV show "The Killing."
Oct 22, 2011 Leah rated it really liked it
This book is about a working class single mom, an alcoholic, a wealthy entrepreneur, a Catholic priest, and a few runaway teens... and how their lives are intertwined in South Boston in the 1950's. It has a page-turning plot, and it is very very well written.
Rebecca Meyers
Aug 21, 2012 Rebecca Meyers rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the different characters, each one having their own short chapter. I liked following their stories, and only hearing a little bit about them at the time. Although I loved the book, I did not think it was a strong ending.
Mary Kay
Feb 18, 2013 Mary Kay rated it it was ok
Set in the Boston environs of Southie, this book tells a story of an alcoholic writer, a 15-year-old runaway Internet porn "star", a nasty priest, his 13-year-old victim, & a completely unlikeable businessman.
Lisa Wakefield
Jun 07, 2012 Lisa Wakefield rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Powerful, and bleak, with desperately sad characters in search of redemption. The writing pulls you through and drags you down in to their sadness. Reminded me of David Adams Richards.
Dec 20, 2011 Angela rated it liked it
Much to love about this book. But it's all very bleak. Short chapters from the perspective of 7 different characters who turn out in the end to all be connected.
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“Bobby had once gotten to slip into the Boston Athletic Club and watch Big Kevin's Sunday morning workout, when he put 225 pounds on the bar and cranked out twenty nine reps on the bench press as his admiring buddies counted them out. Bobby was quietly made aware that this was beyond the capability of most any of the New England Patriots, which was akin to saying someone was holier than the pope himself.” 0 likes
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