The Gamal featured several of my favourite book features so I pretty much knew I was on to a winner when I picked this up. It's got an unusual narrati...moreThe Gamal featured several of my favourite book features so I pretty much knew I was on to a winner when I picked this up. It's got an unusual narrative style, a quirky, sometimes unreliable narrator, a tragic love story and my personal favourite, it's written completely in Hiberno-English with woulds and seens and do bes as far as the eye can see.
I get a real kick out of reading a book in this style.It made it flow so naturally for me. Charlie's voice was so strong and in this context, so completely believable.
The writer showed a real insightful perspective on the inner-workings of a small Irish town and really, of human nature. Every page, I found myself thinking, yes, I could see all this happening. I could hear the conversations and the nuances and the rhythm of that way of life. It never rang false.
The plot, fed to us in dribs and drabs through Charlie's writing, wasn't the star of the book. Yes, it was moving and intriguing but it didn't hook me in like Charlie's voice did. It was funny and sad and entirely believable. The writing was very aware of its own strengths and weaknesses, sometimes too much so, but it was an engrossing enjoyable read.
I was really taken by the concept of this book. A sexy male romantic lead who likes to wear women's clothes sometimes? That's something you don't see...moreI was really taken by the concept of this book. A sexy male romantic lead who likes to wear women's clothes sometimes? That's something you don't see every day.
But that was the only good thing about it. Nicholas was intriguing and complex. Unfortunately, the author didn't have the skill really delve into the back story and his psyche adequately, but he was still pretty cool.
I got a kick out of reading a book set in Dublin. It's nice to read something familiar sometimes.
However. I HATED Freda. Hated Hated Hated her with a fiery passion. I cannot think of a single narrator I have liked less. She was snobby, rude, nasty and hypocritical. At about 2% in, I knew she was not my cup of tea but I hoped to see some growth. (That was when she insulted single mothers and their children, btw. A trend that continues throughout the book.)Alas, she only got worse. I don't think I've ever read a character who looked down at poor people and rich people equally. She went to great lengths to describe how much better than them she is. Who else did she display that snobby attitude to, you ask? EVERYONE.
Her friends, people who go to posh private schools, people who went to her public school, charities, doctors, people she went to college with, working class people, taxi drivers,junkies, people from Coolock, the staff in Brown Thomas (who, might I add, I have only ever found to be friendly and professional) and everyone but herself and her precious Nicholas.
She preaches open-mindedness in regards to her own sexual relationship and proceeds to judge and shame her friend's choices. It was gross and offensive and the writing failed to contextualise how wrong so many of her thought processes were. I don't care if she makes crude jokes and is socially awkward, but the rest of her 'quirks' made me want to tear my hair out.
You know how someone like Marion Keyes can write a self-centred, judgemental first person narrator and still have a warm, witty, sensitive story? Yeah, Cosway didn't even try. It felt like Freda was a mouthpiece for the author. Like, she actually addressed how annoying her tangents were and went to great lengths to describe things so that international readers could understand. Which totally does a dis-service to those readers. They can figure it out for themselves. I'm Irish and I can definitely say my thought processes do not, and never will, involve translating how I describe every day things in a more Americanised way.
Oh and Freda made cupcakes for a living. Is there a more cliche profession for a female character?
There were also a few mis-spelt and mis-used words. She even spelled Taoiseach wrong. That's like an Italian person spelling Premier wrong. Not cool or forgiveable.
It could have been a one star book but Nicholas kept me reading. Even though he was very much a jerk to Dorotea and Freda, too, now that I think of it. If only his deep rooted issues weren't cured by someone as annoying as Freda. or you know, dealt with in a responsible and sensitive manner instead of by love. just a suggestion. (less)
I have a real fondness of Marian Keyes' books. I've been reading them since I was a young girl and they would be passed around our family, as well as...moreI have a real fondness of Marian Keyes' books. I've been reading them since I was a young girl and they would be passed around our family, as well as various neighbours and friends. Her writing has a quality that really resonates with people and with the Walsh family, she's at her very best.
I have so much respect and admiration for the empathy, warmth and sensitivity in her books. This is most obvious when dealing with more difficult topics, in this case depression. But it also shines through in her characters and it's a real joy to read something so non-judgemental. The reader is never looking down or looking up at the characters. You're right on the ground with them and it makes all the difference.I wish more authors I read had this skill
This book is funny. It's full of wry observations about current culture that made me smile constantly. The characters, too, are funny in their ways of speaking and their actions in general and it adds a wonderful spark to a fairly gentle plotline.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It shows tremendous insight into depression and it's also a fun, warm and engaging story. A cut above other books in its genre and the flow of the first person pov is top notch.
If I could give this book more than five stars I would.
It's truly wonderful and I feel like nothing I can type would be enough to describe how good i...moreIf I could give this book more than five stars I would.
It's truly wonderful and I feel like nothing I can type would be enough to describe how good it is. The writing is just fantastic; lyrical and powerful and ambitious. The story it tightly-woven and also, far-reaching. I'll admit I found some of the symbolism heavy-handed at times, but that did not take away from the strength of it.
The characters chipped away at my heart until they found a place there. I was so moved by their experiences that I had to stop reading a couple of times and as we came to the inevitable climax, I was as exhilarated and as sorrowful as they were. Jim and Doyler were so likeable, so natural that I felt for them so much. Even MacMurrough, who I initially loathed, grew to be someone I could appreciate.
It's a thought-provoking read. Examining the idea of what it was like to be gay at the time was very sad and very clever. Coupling that with world wars, social inequality, poverty and an oppressed country fighting for independence was just so interesting to read. It's a book that can be appreciated at so many levels. Jim and Doyler are definitely the shining stars but the quality of the writing, the beauty of the prose and the close, non-judgemental look at the society it's set in are also enough to make it worth a read.
For me, the dialect and the history was not an issue. I really enjoyed it actually. The period around the Rising is one of my favourite in history and I have a soft spot for anything written in Irish dialect. I didn't always get some of the Greek references but they were easily googled. I imagine, though, that this might be off-putting for non-Irish readers. Just read the wiki page on the 1916 Rising and you'll know enough. Push through the first fifty pages and the book shifts characters and the dialect flows better. You'll get used it. It would be a shame for those things to stop people reading such a fantastic book.
It was moving, challenging and very rewarding. Definitely one I will re-visit again. (less)
Roddy Doyle is my favourite Irish writer and possibly my favourite writer period. The previous installment in this trilogy A Star Called Henry was one...moreRoddy Doyle is my favourite Irish writer and possibly my favourite writer period. The previous installment in this trilogy A Star Called Henry was one of the best books I've ever read and I was kinda anxious to start this one, because i was afraid it wouldn't leave up to expectations. And it didn't. The previous book ran along familiar historical events and placed the protagonist seamlessly in that period. He was young and larger than life and carried the novel. This book sends Henry to New York and Chicago in the 1920's, and while that era feels familiar in a different way, the antics just weren't so believable. It was still fun and evocative. The writing is fanatastic and the dialogue is sparse and well utilised. But it's missing the spark of the previous book. As a characters grows, I think we expect more of them. The messing and irresponsibiity that were charming in the first book grew tiresome in the second. I expceted more and it just didn't deliver. I can't fault the style or the historical details or the writing (although the last section felt too rushed) I just wised Doyle had done more with the wonderful character he created.(less)