This was a hard book to read. It centers around the Catholic Church in Ireland as the clerical abuse scandal is uncovered. The author chooses to makeThis was a hard book to read. It centers around the Catholic Church in Ireland as the clerical abuse scandal is uncovered. The author chooses to make the character of Father Odran Yates that not of an abuser, but of a priest who chooses blindness and ultimately the complicity it leads to. Following Odran through seminary in the 70's, the reader is presented with many instances of this tendency to choose the easier path of non-confrontation. The weakness he exhibits throughout the novel makes him a cowardly character, hiding in the easy comfortable life of a teacher and librarian in a boy's school in Dublin even as his roommate from the seminary is mysteriously moved from parish to parish over the course of several decades. Neither of these priests is honorable - and the same is true of their superiors. Odran even chooses blindness when it comes to the 9-year-old nephew that he supposedly loves. It is this nephew as a grown man that brings Odran face to face with his demons and his complicity.
John Boyle has done a masterful job of making an extremely personal story an allegory for the broad societal issue of clerical sexual abuse. His storytelling is impeccable, his writing mesmerizing, and his characters utterly real. He slips so seamlessly back and forth through periods of Odran's life to reveal the man and his flaws and complexity. Through Odran's story, he shows the effect all of this had on the church and society and the devastation it caused to the priests who remained silent even though they did not participate in the abuse.
For me, this was an extremely sad book that made me very angry. It left me feeling empty and renewed my outrage of this scandal that has slipped out of most of our minds. Powerful story telling and the audio edition was a perfect performance....more
Amor Towles, just as he did in Rules of Civility, used his words to create a movie in my head with every turn of a page. I could see every floor of MoAmor Towles, just as he did in Rules of Civility, used his words to create a movie in my head with every turn of a page. I could see every floor of Moscow's Hotel Metropol. I could see the tables in the elegant hotel restaurant where Count Rostov at first dined and later waited tables. I could taste his morning fruit in his cramped little servant quarters room. I could see him and Nina skulking about in all the secret places of the Metropol. I could see all the details in the barber shop and seamstress shop that the Count frequented to maintain his dignity and elegance. I could see the comings and goings in the elegant hotel lobby. This is an historical novel that relies on perfectly drawn fictional characters and a meticulously created setting to tell a personal story that captures the upheaval created in Bolshevik Russia. The Count's life of culture and privilege, reconfigured and constricted by house arrest to one small room, served as an example of how to live a life of dignity and resistance for decades. I'm not a lover of aristocracy, but I became a lover of this aristocrat, with his humor, his class, and his cunning.
“As we age, we are bound to find comfort from the notion that it takes generations for a way of life to fade. We are familiar with the songs our grandparents favored, after all, even though we never danced to them ourselves. At festive holidays, the recipes we pull from the drawer are routinely decades old and, in some cases, even written in the hand of a relative long since dead. And the objects in our hands? The oriental coffee tables and well worn desks that have been handed down from generation to generation? Despite being out of fashion, not only do they add beauty to our daily lives, they lend material credibility to our presumption that the passing of an era will be glacial. But under certain circumstances, the Count finally acknowledged, this process can occur in the comparative blink of an eye. Popular upheaval, political turmoil, industrial progress – any combination of these can cause the evolution of society to leapfrog generations, sweeping aside aspects of the past that might otherwise have lingered for decades. And this must be especially so when those with newfound power are men who distrust any form of hesitation or nuance and who prize self assurance above all. For years now, with a bit of a smile, the Count had remarked that this or that was behind him. Like his days of poetry or travel or romance. But in so doing, he'd never really believed it. In his heart of hearts, he had imagined that, even if unattended to, those aspects of his life were lingering somewhere on the periphery, waiting to be recalled. But looking at the bottle in his hand, the Count was struck by the realization that, in fact, it was all behind him because the Bolsheviks who were so intent upon recasting the future from a mold of their own making, would not rest until every last vestige of his Russia had been uprooted, shattered, or erased.”
In such times, Towles shows us that it is possible to still find a way to live, resist, and find our way home. His language is perfection, his story captivating and his characters totally engaging. ...more
Sadly these characters didn't interest me at all and therefore I had a hard time keeping them all straight, especially after Faith arrived in JamaicaSadly these characters didn't interest me at all and therefore I had a hard time keeping them all straight, especially after Faith arrived in Jamaica and Levy spent several chapters telling some of their backstories through the eyes of another. The story dragged and the writing didn't stand out in any way for me. This is not one of my bookclub's more appealing selections - at least not for me....more
Oh my! What a sci-fi world Hugh Howey has created! A giant underground silo, hundreds of stories deep, houses a whole society living under some very pOh my! What a sci-fi world Hugh Howey has created! A giant underground silo, hundreds of stories deep, houses a whole society living under some very prescribed regulations The outside is uninhabitable so the only people who leave the protection of the silo are the "cleaners" - citizens banished to the outside world and sure death for crimes involving some kind of treasonous thought or speech. Their duty on the outside is to scrub clean the sensors on the outside of the silo so those inside can maintain a view of the outside from the top floor. And then they die. And why do they actually do this cleaning when they are going to die anyway?
Into this world, Howey places some fun characters: Juliette, a mechanic from the "down deep" of the silo, becomes one of my favorites, alongside Jahns, Lukas, and, yes, Solo.
The origins of this silo, the role of I.T., the Legacy books, and so much more are questions that pull the reader into the story.
This is not great literature but it was certainly great storytelling in my book. This omnibus edition collects the first 5 installments in the saga. I've already moved on to the next installment because I want to know more about how this all came about.
There were a few problems with the audio edition for me - most specifically the voices he used to delineate the various characters. Pretty amateurishly done. But the pacing, suspense, and complexity of the created world overrode that as far as my enjoyment of this book went....more