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Apologize, Apologize!
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Apologize, Apologize!

3.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,587 Ratings  ·  340 Reviews
Apologize, Apologize! takes us into the perversely charmed world of the Flanagans and their son, Collie (who has the questionable good fortune to be named after a breed of dog). Coming of age on Martha's Vineyard, he struggles to find his place within his wildly wealthy, hyper-articulate, resolutely crazy Irish-Catholic family: a philandering father, incorrigible brother, ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Knopf Canada (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Larry Hoffer
Some books don't grab me right away, so I put them down. Some books irritate me, but I keep hoping that something will change, so I keep reading. The latter was definitely the case for Elizabeth Kelly's Apologize, Apologize! Borders is doing a big push for this book and since I'm always captivated by tales of family dysfunction, I figured I'd give it a shot. I disliked most of this book and nearly all of the characters, but I kept soldiering on, hoping something would change.

This book focuses o
Mar 16, 2009 Erica rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Mildly amusing, somewhat rambling portrayal of a decidedly dysfunctional family. It's occasionally funny and it's occasionally poignant. Unfortunately, it's neither of these things consistently enough to compensate for a thin, rather aimless plot.
Feb 13, 2015 Hana rated it did not like it
So, on a whim I picked this up off the featured reads shelf at my local library. You see, it had a lovely cover with a picture of an idyllic summer Martha's Vineyard scene--a wood-framed white house in the background, two young boys running down towards the beach, and a couple of cute dogs in the lead. "My name is Collie Flanagan. Ma chose the name Collie after re-discovering the books of Albert Payson Terhune, the guy who wrote Lad: A Dog....At Andover they called me Lassie. That was fun."

It lo
Nicole R
Sep 30, 2012 Nicole R rated it liked it
Before I launch into my review, I would like to reiterate that I did like this book, quite a bit actually - and yet I am still going to have a mini-rant.

My biggest complaint about Apologize, Apologize! has nothing to do with the author or the writing - it has everything to do with the publisher. The cover of this has several quotes (5 to be exact) that use words like "lovable", "hilarious", "deliciously witty", "funny", and "hilarious" (again). These quotes plus the blurb on the back (revealed i
May 30, 2010 K rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This novel reads like a memoir, which is not a compliment. For the first 130 pages or so, it can be summed up as: “My name is Collie. I have a crazy mother, an alcoholic father, an impulsive younger brother, a controlling grandfather, an odd live-in uncle, and scads of money. I’m the normal one and I just wish things were normal, but everyone around me thinks I’m a spoilsport.” This is told to us through a series of quasi-humorous family anecdotes where the family members’ dialogue and antics ar ...more
Jun 07, 2010 Scott rated it did not like it
Horrible book. Don't waste your time on this read. I picked up this book on vacation at Border's in Las Vegas because it was a New York Time's bestseller. Some of the characters in the book (Uncle Tom and Collie's father) were fun, but the storyline of the book was very unorganized and "all over the place." It seemed like Elizabeth Kelly had about 14 different story ideas, and instead of fleshing out each idea for individual books, she decided just to put them all in the same book. It was also c ...more
Feb 04, 2012 Kathy rated it liked it
In the interest of full disclosure, I suppose I should start by saying that I rounded up from a 2.5 (come on, GR, give us half stars, already!). Apologize, Apologize starts out strong and then peters out into a frustrating, frankly awful mess at the end.

This story of Collie Flanagan, his brother, Bing, and their bizarre family starts out as a funny, if uncomfortable (poor Collie is no one's favorite) story of being the "normal" one in a sea of dysfunction. About halfway through, it is just unco
Jul 16, 2011 Elaine rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks
It's a very good read. My only criticism is that there's one tragedy too many. I've been somewhat of a funk lately when it comes to novels. As my reviews show, even when I try a novel by a writer whom I've always more than liked, I have been disappointed.

How I happened on this one is interesting. You can now download e-books from public libraries--unless you own a Kindle. Every other e-reader I know of allows this. In any event, I finally decided to try borrowing e-books. Not surprisingly, the p
Mar 26, 2011 Ms.pegasus rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of good writing
Shelves: fiction
APOLOGIZE, APOLOGIZE! – A Novel about the Family that Puts the Personality in Disorder by Elizabeth Kelly, begins in the familiar territory of the dysfunctional family – in this case, The Flanagans. The baroque hyperbole never crosses the line into “cringe” territory. The reader is beguiled into a sense of comfortable amusement, savoring each outlandish character, but wondering where this will all lead.

Kelly does an excellent job of defining each character through the dialogue we overhear. The s
Tracy Fleming-Swehla
Jul 31, 2014 Tracy Fleming-Swehla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one at all
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 16, 2010 Luca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-s-a
La sorte di Bingo, simpatico scavezzacollo che si ispira a Sant'Agostino "Signore, fammi diventare adulto, però aspetta ancora un momento", spezza in due il libro e la vita del fratello maggiore Collie, che ci racconta questa storia.
I due vivono, insieme agli inconcludenti e molto eccentrici genitori e ad un altrettanto bizzarro zio, in una bella villa sull'oceano a Martha's Vineyard, nel New England. Su tutti loro incombe la figura del nonno, distante e ricchissimo magnate dei media. Bingo vien
Nov 26, 2012 Kwoomac rated it it was ok
Great title, but I didn't feel like the author really made her point. the book read like a bunch of different book ideas all thrown together. The first half of the book is about a boy named Collie Flanagan, whose family is over-the-top dysfunctional. At first, I rolled my eyes a lot, but then I decided to just embrace their eccentricity and enjoy the ride.(book idea #1) Fine. But then about halfway through the book, something actually happens and this changes the whole tenor of the story. (book ...more
Apr 22, 2009 Virginia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I'm generally tired of the "messed up family genre" that dominates contemporary fiction (and non-fiction), I REALLY enjoyed this book. This novel gives you an idea of what life might be like if you were the only person in your family with an iota of healthy shame. The main characters (the protagonist excepted) are absurdly flawed and hysterically funny. Much of the dialogue is riotous.

The story doesn't hang together that well, and I wondered at times what the purpose was. But it was reall
Jun 19, 2015 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, canada
Finalmente riesco a ricordarmi il motivo per cui un libro è finito tra le mie mani: di Chiedi scusa! Chiedi scusa! avevo letto una recensione qui. La recensione non è smaccatamente positiva però io sono sempre affascinata dai romanzi che parlano di famiglie, specialmente se le famiglie sono simpaticamente eccentriche. La famiglia Flanagan, tuttavia, non si può proprio definire 'simpaticamente eccentrica', piuttosto 'angosciosamente fuori di testa' si avvicina di più a una definizione corretta. M ...more
Nov 14, 2015 Dianna rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
I did like this novel about an extremely dysfunctional family. There were so many tragedies I didn't know who to cry for. The occasional poignant and humorous verbiage kept me going to the end. But to what end? I'm still wondering, thus the 2.5 star rating. If you are looking for a frustrating downer of a book, then I'd recommend this one. All others steer clear.
Susan Katz
Jun 11, 2009 Susan Katz rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
If you want to know what happens when a thoughtful, sensible child is born into a flamboyantly dysfunctional family, read this book. Collie (named after a dog) Flanagan and his brother Bingo (named after another dog) grow up in a world ruled by the insane biases or drunken whims of the way-over-the-top adults who surround them. Bingo responds by joining the fray, getting himself kicked out of nearly every private school in the country, but Collie tries to find some alternate model for living. Wh ...more
Temo di non aver compreso fino in fondo questo libro. Seppur scritto molto bene, mi sembrava di essere in una gabbia di matti. Durante la lettura non capivo se mi trovavo di fronte ad un capolavoro o ad una bufala. C'è tutto in questo libro: genitori ubriachi, madri attiviste, ricchezza e povertà, odio, incoerenza, religione, rapporti familiari e incomunicabilità. Tutto solo accennato però e mai completamente sviluppato. In tutto questo marasma, mi sono però affezionata alla figura di Co
Jul 28, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
Well, what a surprise! I dragged myself to the bookstore (as my library had not heard of this book) and purchased it for a bookclub meeting. With no enthusiasm at all, I started it and wondered "who is choosing the titles now for our club?" as I'd not made a meeting in months. Anyway, I fell in love with the book! It is funny, both "peculiar and haha", and, although I think the dysfunctional family thing is currently overworked in today's fiction, this one is quite different. It is not a plot-in ...more
Jun 09, 2011 Suzannelees rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, although dysfunctional family is what it is all about. After reading, it was the first time I actually read the "book club" questions and thought through my responses. I normally skim through without much thought. It is not an uplifting read, but insightful and makes one look at their own family dynamics. In addition, the plot is truly of the journey of the main character, Collie and his coming of age. Great book club book, will spark a lot of conversation.
Jul 22, 2015 Sydney rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh well... I can't exactly say that I hated this book. Though throughout the first 100 pages or so I kept asking myself, why is Collie putting up with this? He's certainly wealthy enough, if he ran off from these awful people they either would t notice or wouldn't care.

(No spoilers, but I mention this scene so if you do choose to read this book after all the poor reviews, just know it has some good moments) The story started to pick up about the time the boys all went to the caves. At this poin
May 26, 2014 Lily rated it liked it
It was a good book there is no denying it on my part. I generally really liked the characters and the way Elizabeth went about setting the scene and all that. I quite loved all the different characters (although I hated the mum) and I though Bingo and Collie were brilliant. I have to say that at times it didn't seem to me that there was a very clear plot. As if there was no where this book was actually taking me. I liked the fast pace at the beginning and as always with these types of books, I l ...more
Mary (BookHounds)
Nov 25, 2008 Mary (BookHounds) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: traded
One of the best I have read this year. This should appeal to those who liked The Life of Pi. Great story filled with funny metaphors that moved me and words I had to look up. I loved the wackiness of the whole thing.
May 19, 2014 Jean rated it did not like it
None of the characters in this book appealed to me.Nor did the story. There is nothing funny about a dysfunctional family in which a mother despises her first born, Collie, because a) he is not a girl and b) he looks like his grandfather who she hates. Collie lives with his parents and uncle, none of whom are gainfully employed because they have so much money ( funded by the hated grandfather). Collie is consistently belittled by both parents who favour Bing – the younger son.
The story is overbl
Jul 03, 2014 Kiirstin rated it liked it
A read that is almost as dysfunctional as the family it chronicles, this book starts out engagingly and promisingly as the early life story of Collie Flanagan: lots of black humour, fantastically eccentric characters, and a hint of melancholy, a sign of things to come. Dysfunctional human relationships of the scale Collie reports rarely come without consequences, and that is fully realized. Unfortunately, what starts out as a madcap family tragicomedy somehow veers into a war zone and medical ma ...more
Aug 21, 2016 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really give this book zero stars. The only thing more ridiculous than this story is the fact that I actually read it. None of the characters were likable or appealing, or held my interest for very long. Most of them were more like caricatures, unbelievable and over the top, a bunch of twits. I am not even sure that there was an actual plot included here. I will not be reading anything else by this author. Found this one on the bargain shelf and am thankful that I didn't doll out more than a bu ...more
Aug 05, 2014 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first this book frustrated me. It was overly expository, and lurched back and forth across its chronology, doling out facts and anecdotes from narrator Collie's life seemingly at random. It did this for a few chapters, and I wondered if it was ever going to settle into telling a story. Eventually it does, though, and it's quite a good one.

The book's biggest problem, I think, is one of marketing, if the reviews I've read so far are any indication. The main criticisms I've seen are that the cha
Paul Pessolano
Feb 01, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it it was ok
If you want to read a story about a totally dysfunctional Irish Catholic family this is about as good as it gets.

The Flanagans live on Martha's Vineyard and have more money than they know what to do with. The father, Tom, is a drunkard and is living off of his wife's inheritance. The wife, who has taken on the most radical activist grups as her personal fight, this includes the communists, seems removed from the family. Collie, the oldest son, is looking for his place in the family and in the wo
Denzil Pugh
Call it a Tragi-comedy, a mixture of Shakespeare and Ferrol Sams, with elegant writing and bawdy actions to thrill lovers of Southern Literature and literature fanatics. It's like Pat Conroy, but on the shores of Boston's rich and secluded coast. It would be similar if one of the Kennedy's suddenly decided they didn't want to be a Kennedy anymore, but were powerless to do anything but be that.

Ultimately, it's the story of a family who lives under a rich and Paternal figure called "The Falcon,"
Jun 12, 2011 Danna rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
"You treacherous, disloyal, star-fucking sack of shit." In Apologize, Apologize! Elizabeth Kelly made me laugh out loud over and over again. Her characters are witty, belligerent, heartbreaking, and unique. The story is one-of-a-kind, both in its humor and its tragedy. The story is narrated by Collie Flanagan, the grandson of filthy rich Perregrine Lowell, aka the Falcon. Collie's family is a wild and tumultuous group, plagued by indifference, alcoholism, privilege, and noise. He grows up on the ...more
Dec 22, 2013 Stephen rated it liked it
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Stephen by: NYT Sunday Book Review ad
What did i think of this book? In a nutshell, I was disappointed. Long story short. I found an ad for this book from the Times' Sunday Book Review, packed away in boxes of books that have been in storage for a number of years, that I was finally unpacking after moving into a permanent and newly renovated old house. What caught my attention was a little blurb that asked "What do you get when you combine John Irving and Jonathon Franzen?".......Apologize, Apologize by Elizabeth Kelly. That may ver ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the goodreads data base.

Elizabeth Kelly is the best-selling author of the novel Apologize, Apologize! and is an award-winning journalist. She lives in Merrickville, Ontario, with her husband, five dogs, and three cats.
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