Caroline's Reviews > The Fourth Hand

The Fourth Hand by John Irving
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May 31, 2012

it was ok

This novel follows the highlights and troughs in the life of Patrick Wallingford, a journalist working for a trashy 24-hour TV news station.

Whilst covering a story in India, he gets one of his hands bitten off by a circus lion. A surgeon shows interest in trying a hand transplant, and shortly after this Doris Clausen, a newly widowed woman who saw the lion episode on television, offers one of her husband's hands for the operation....on the condition she can have visiting rights to see the hand after the transplant.

Wallingford has always been hugely attractive to women, and keeps falling mindlessly into bed with them. His life as a rather gormless libertine is disrupted by the entry of Mrs Clausen into his life.

Whilst I liked the eccentric storyline in the book, I never felt any great emotion towards any of the characters. The parts I enjoyed most were the descriptions of the news station - the politics, the scheming, and the laying bare of the shallow nastiness of its journalism. But that wasn't nearly enough to keep me hooked.

This is my first John Irving book though, and what I have picked up on is the vast wave of admiration that thousands of people feel for his writing. Many people describe him as their favourite author. I shall have to read another of his books and see how I get on with that.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" He he, "eccentric" is the perfect word for Irving's plots. Great writer, but very strange stories. Cider House Rules is good, but too depressing for you. A Prayer For Owen Meany seems to be a favorite among my friends, but it's also bizarre.


message 2: by Caroline (last edited Jun 06, 2012 08:53PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Caroline Thank you thank you Jeanette! I shall now take Cider House Rules off my reading lists, and add A Prayer For Owen Meany instead. Given Irving's overwhelming popularity I may well be bitten by the bug with the next book I try.

Later add: Phew, it's popular! All 18 copies at various local libraries are either on reserve or on loan. He is the boy at the party that everyone wants to play with!


message 3: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" You could probably find a cheap used paperback copy.


message 4: by Caroline (last edited Jun 06, 2012 10:42PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Caroline Hummmmm... Good thinking, except I feel I want a decent break before I try another book of his. Waiting before I place the order and then going on a waiting list would be a good way of doing this.

I am now waiting for about 3 or 4 books that I have ordered from the library - but I have not kept track the titles of the books, and I have forgotten what they are. It's like having a cache of treats that I know I want, but I know nothing else about them. Nor will I, until the notification email comes through the post to tell me that one of them has arrived. It's a really nice feeling. All those unknown delights just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed....


message 5: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" I love having a lousy memory. When my turn finally arrives for a library book, I forget why I requested it, so I start into it fresh without much memory of what the plot synopsis was. Fun!


Caroline Me too, and I totally agree!


message 7: by Vivienne (new)

Vivienne Strauss Caroline, I haven't read anything recent of his but LOVED The Hotel New Hampshire and The World According to Garp.


Caroline Vivienne wrote: "Caroline, I haven't read anything recent of his but LOVED The Hotel New Hampshire and The World According to Garp."

Okay, I shall add The Hotel New Hampshire to my t-r lists! I saw the film The World According to Garp, and thoroughly enjoyed that...


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