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A Mad and Wonderful Thing
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A Mad and Wonderful Thing

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  176 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
‘You wouldn’t get involved, Johnny, would you? What about those terrible bombs? You wouldn’t do a bad thing, would you?’

In this passionate and heart-wrenching debut novel by Irish writer Mark Mulholland, we meet Johnny Donnelly — an intense young man who is in love with books, with his country, and with the beautiful Cora Flannery. But in his dark and secret other life he
Paperback, 283 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Scribe Publications (first published February 26th 2014)
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(showing 1-30)
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Sep 22, 2015 Dee-Ann rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the character, even if he did have his dark side. The story was 'mad and wonderful' with elements of gaiety, sadness, adventure, philosophy and confrontation. Laughed, cried, cheered and cringed. Did not expect Bob in the beginning, but looked forward to his chats later in the book.
Sep 02, 2016 eghzarw rated it it was amazing
Barring Tírghrá, which is a very different kind of publication, this is the best book about the Troubles I've ever read.
Sam Still Reading
Apr 20, 2014 Sam Still Reading rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of complex characters
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: copy from publisher - thank you!
Thank you to Scribe Publications for the copy of this book.

A mad and wonderful thing. Sounds the best of both worlds, doesn’t it? Something exciting, something to get your heart both racing and singing… This term can be used to summarise the protagonist in A Mad and Wonderful Thing, Johnny Donnelly – he’s full of wonderful ideas, love and kindness but he also hears and does some things that could be rightfully termed as completely mad.

The majority of the books I read based in Ireland are sweet a
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Apr 30, 2014 Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum rated it did not like it
Blurb Excerpt
In this passionate and heart-wrenching debut novel by Irish writer Mark Mullholland, we meet Johnny Donnelly — an intense young man who is in love with books, with his country, and with the beautiful Cora Flannery. But in his dark and secret other life he shoots British soldiers: he is an IRA sniper.

With a review like that, you can't go wrong can you? IRA sniper who is in love with books and his country? I couldn't wait to read my advance copy, but sadly, A Mad and Wonderful T
Jun 22, 2016 Clare rated it really liked it
Johnny Donnelly lives in a town on the Irish border during the 1990s. He leads a double life as a charming, considerate, church-going young Irishman who is also an IRA sniper, killing in cold blood. Is Johnny a modern-day Cuchulainn fighting for his beloved country? Or just an angry young man who likes a fight?
There is some exquisite and lyrical writing in this book which takes the reader on a trip around Ireland as well as exploring Irish mythology but the book as a whole has a schizophrenic f
Katie Finucane
Jun 15, 2016 Katie Finucane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘What a text! It is complex and rich. It explores uncomfortable questions and leaves you to examine all of the viewpoints it puts forth; to reach your own conclusions. This novel is full of scars that are ripped wide open so that you may explore their painful and horrifying realities, no matter how uncomfortable. A clever approach to its dark subject matter in that it places judgement firmly within the reader’s hands.’ So says Contrary Reader in a review and I can’t do better than that. That’s ...more
Linda C.
Aug 20, 2016 Linda C. rated it really liked it
When traveling I enjoy stopping into a local bookstore and looking around. I found A Mad and Wonderful Thing in the Irish fiction section while shopping in a mall in Derry, Northern Ireland. Captivated by the title first and the topic of "The Troubles" second, I bought it even knowing that a book would be a rather heavy souvenir to cart home.

The story grabbed me on the first page. The prose is beautiful, emotional and scenic, all things critical to tell the story of love and war. You might say t
C.S. Boag
I need a book to leave me something, a trace of something. To do this a book has to do more than tell a story or it will vanish in the mist. It needs to present me with a character who has something memorable about him; a theme that resonates; an insight, preferably profound; and if possible all three.
This should have been a great novel. In the tradition of "All Quiet on the Western Front", it presents us with a picture from the other side, a sensitive look at the attitude of the terrorist, his
Helen Stower
Nov 29, 2014 Helen Stower rated it liked it
Based on the author's brother who was jailed as an IRA terrorist, Mark Mulholland's novel, A mad and wonderful thing, explores why good people do bad things. Part love story, part thriller, this is a story that will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

It is quite difficult to describe this book or to put it into a category. It is a most original story and put simply, it is a very Irish story. Set in Dundalk, a town very close to the border of Northern Ireland, this book follows Joh
Levent Mollamustafaoglu
Johnny is a youngster who is living in Northern Ireland and going through the normal adventures of his age, chasing girls, falling in love, struggling through school. However, he has a secret: He is a sniper for the IRA and has been involved in many attacks against the British soldiers routinely coming to the area.

He questions all this when he falls in love with Cora and finds a new direction in life, which may take him out of the present spiral of violence. However, life has many unpleasant sur
Francesca Cooper-Clarke
Nov 13, 2014 Francesca Cooper-Clarke rated it it was amazing
This is a novel that was beautiful and terrible, romantic and clinical, gentle and violent. And a novel that cuts to the core of our human nature and spirit.

Johnny Donnelly is a unique character: an idealist, a philosopher, a sage, and a killer. He and the gorgeous Cora Flannery find beauty in the land and language of Ireland. But they have different views on how to defend that beautiful and tragic country.

It was easy to be swept along with the dramatic, yet charming, narrative. The language is
Beth Lawrence
Jun 02, 2014 Beth Lawrence rated it it was amazing
A charming and intriguing novel that follows a young Irish man who is passionate about life, his country, and a beautiful girl. But he has a secret: he is also IRA sniper. A dramatic turn of events makes him question everything.

Weaving a work of fiction through Irish folklore, history, politics, and landscape this novel takes on a fantastical journey through the blurred lines of right and wrong.

And the writing is poetic, and powerful.

A Mad and Wonderful Thing is a story about why we do the thin
Oct 19, 2015 Sue rated it really liked it
Shelves: love-romance
this is a novel about love and another person, an ideal and a homeland. Written in the tradition of Irish mysticism and with self-deprecating humour and insight, the story tells us about Johnny's double life as a secret IRA sniper and a decent, intelligent member of a small community. Rich in the ancient myths and imbued with a deep love of the Irish countryside, the book taught me a lot about one of the world's longest enduring civil conflicts and those who fight in it.
Nov 11, 2014 Cassy rated it really liked it
I received this book as a Goodreads winner. I found this book really easy to get through which means to me it was a great read. Having a Godson named Cuchulain and ancestors from County Clare in Ireland I related to this book a lot. A bit of romance, a bit of soul searching and a bit of action is what you'll find in this book.
Imelda Maye
I couldn't put this book down, every page spoke to me - on so many different levels ....
I loved the story, the journey of the individual characters , the sense of belief, and the stirring of emotions it gave me as an Irish's a beautiful book ....

One I will read again and again .......
Shirley Bateman
Aug 16, 2014 Shirley Bateman rated it it was ok
Disjointed and a bit strange. Parts of the story were weaved with Irish myth and they didn't really work for me. One of my pet hates is books with long dream sequences and this had plenty. It was so full of potential, started so well and had some great moments but overall a very dissatisfying read.
Apr 17, 2014 Nichole rated it it was ok
I didn't really enjoy this book. I felt emotionless throughout the whole thing and considering it is a book about love and war and patriotism it was quite anticlimactic. I didn't feel that the love and attraction was believable, the tragedy didn't feel that tragic. I skimmed..
Brenda Kittelty
Sep 29, 2015 Brenda Kittelty rated it it was amazing
I read this in a little over a day, so enchanted and engrossed was I. Johnny Donnelly has joined my list of Tragic Young Male Literary Characters I've Fallen A Little Bit In Love With, the blossoming romance between him and Cora was a heartwarming joy to read. Loved, loved, LOVED this novel.
Virginia Cairns
Sep 07, 2014 Virginia Cairns rated it really liked it
Lovely lyrical writing - you can hear the Irish intonation and turn of phrase as you read it. A Greek tragedy from the first page, you know things will not turn out for this young man. But then, he is an IRA sniper. A good read and a good book club discussion.
Ralph Hampson
Jun 16, 2014 Ralph Hampson rated it it was ok
While I enjoyed the narrative and the tragedy that was the IRA, hunger strikes etc I thought there were too many themes unravelling at once ... and I was a little bored at times.
Jul 09, 2015 Anita rated it liked it
Lovely writing, strange in some areas, heart wrenching, political, laugh out laugh moments. Almost a love letter to Ireland. However didn't find the ending very satisfactory.
Merideth Lee
May 22, 2014 Merideth Lee rated it it was ok
I just found this book rather clunky and dull. Are Irish people really that "Irish"...Johnny and Cora seemed like caricatures to me, but I could be wrong. Disappointing.
Gil Stewart
Mar 26, 2014 Gil Stewart rated it it was amazing
What a great book. Could not wait to get home and continue the story. Wonderful writing and an original story.
Jan 04, 2015 Catherine rated it liked it
Kind of expected more. Felt like the author was trying to do too many things and tell too many stories.
ann hyland
ann hyland rated it really liked it
Aug 21, 2015
Tom rated it liked it
Jul 09, 2016
Sarah Williamson
Sarah Williamson rated it really liked it
Feb 18, 2015
Peta Buchanan
Peta Buchanan rated it it was ok
Jul 28, 2014
Gemma rated it it was amazing
Feb 25, 2014
Jessica Lawson
Jessica Lawson rated it really liked it
Jul 10, 2016
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