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3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  68 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Woodbrook is a rare house that gives its name to a small, rural area in Ireland, not far from the old port of Sligo. It has been owned since the seventeenth century by the Anglo-Irish Kirkwoods. In 1932, David Thomson, aged eighteen, went there as a tutor. He stayed for ten years.

This memoir, acknowledged as a masterpiece, grew out of two great loves — for Woodbrook and fo
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 17th 1994 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1974)
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Near the old port of Sligo in Ireland is a large house called Woodbrook; it is so well known that the area around it also takes its name from the house. A family called the Kirkwood have owned the house since the seventeenth century. At the age of eighteen David Thomson was appointed as a tutor to Phoebe Kirkwood in 1932. He ended up staying 10 years. In this memoir, he describes how he came to love the house and the region, and how he slowly fell for his pupil. As well as the story of the famil ...more
Mar 23, 2007 Adrian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ireland
This book brings together many strands of writing: memoir, history, folklore, social and political analysis. Above all, it is a love story; love for a place and for a family. David Thomson went to rural Roscommon in the West of Ireland to act as a tutor to a family of Anglo-Irish aristocrats. The Kirkwood family had been in Ireland for centuries but a combination of frivolity, irresponsibility and bad luck had caused their fortune to dwindle and for them to fall on hard times. Thomson tells the ...more
Claire O'brien
Apr 27, 2016 Claire O'brien rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub, library, 2015
It's difficult to know what to say about this one. Mr. Thomson writes a very detailed portrait of life in a big house in 1930s & 40s Ireland, and it I found that aspect of it fascinating. So too were most of his historical lessons, especially the section on the workhouse and relationship with the landowners during the famine of the 1840s. Those interested in history would definitely enjoy this book.
However, Mr. Thomson does not paint a very sympathetic portrait of himself and he's hard to li
Aug 07, 2015 PaleoIrish rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who has an interest in Irish life in the early 1900s
Recommended to PaleoIrish by: My Dad
Because my father was alive and living in the area that the book is based on I was fascinated by the stories told, the people mentioned, the history which was shared as living stories.

I first read this book many years ago while my father was still alive however I was too young at the time to ask him the questions I would like to ask now. I wish that I could remember our discussions about the book however I only remember basics such as his view that the book was fairly true to life at the time.
Jan 07, 2016 Pat rated it really liked it
This is such a good read. As the book cover says, it is a memoir and it covers aspects of the history of Ireland in general and the Kirkwood family and their home specifically. It is also a curious love story of the author, David Thomson, and his pupil Phoebe Kirkwood. It is set in a more innocent age than this one so there is nothing gross or salacious about it despite the age gap. The whole thing is beautifully written and a joy to read.
Sep 07, 2014 Stephen rated it really liked it
I thought it was fiction! Soem of it must be. A romance with Ireland. Given me by son who was in love with Irish woman (now his wife).
Oct 02, 2015 Fosco2004 rated it liked it
A heavy going read on essentially the history of the West of Ireland from famine time to post WWII. A very interesting read but from my perspective an historical account far more than the love story it promises. Also, I found the love story side of things a bit disturbing as Phoebe was only a very young girl and he an 18 year old scholar from London. It just felt a bit "wrong".

Feb 23, 2012 Betsy rated it really liked it
This was not an easy book to read but it was a good history of the Irish and all the political and religious turmoil they went through. It is also a love story. My ancestors did not have an easy time of it and the book explains a great deal about why they came to America and just who they were.
Jul 14, 2013 Margaret rated it it was ok
This book is interesting if you want to get a sense of Irish history and culture, that's what kept me reading. There are better books in fiction and non-fiction that do that. Because of its format, this one is perhaps easier to read than some of those. As a novel, the story line was thin.
Maria Savic
May 26, 2013 Maria Savic rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I struggled to get through this one...too dreary and mundane for me
Karen Misstear
Sep 02, 2012 Karen Misstear rated it it was amazing
so romantic
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