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The Plover

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,102 Ratings  ·  293 Reviews
A compelling, marvelous novel by the acclaimed author of Mink River

Declan O Donnell has left Oregon aboard his boat, the Plover, to escape the life that’s so troubled him on land. He sets course west into the Pacific in search of solitude. Instead, he finds a crew, each in search of something themselves, and what at first seems a lonely sea voyage becomes a rapturous, hea
Hardcover, 311 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books
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(showing 1-30)
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A magical, wonderful sea adventure-coming of middle age-fantasy-exploration-ode to the watery world-hard to describe but must read. I now know I must get to my copy of Mink River and the Brian Doyle back catalogue. This was not even on my agenda to read until I happened to see it on the new release table at the library and read a few paragraphs. I was caught.

There is science, environmental science.

consider, for a moment, that the longest chain of
mountains and volcanoes and hills and guyots and
Diane Barnes
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
In my 20's, I read several books by an author named Tom Robbins, who wrote wonderful novels populated by strange and wonderful characters, most of them with something that made them just a little different. This book reminds me of those novels in the same way: however fantastical the story, however unrealistic the situation, the writing is so good that I will follow those characters to the ends of the earth with no questions. And the ends of the earth is very nearly where we go aboard Declan O'C ...more
J.R. Stewart
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved "Mink River," which made it into my Top Ten. "The Plover" is equally wonderful. Brian Doyle is a writer's writer who respects and trusts the reader. He is not only a treasure to Portland, Oregon, he is a treasure to the broad world of literature. I'll stop now, before I gush all over myself.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Teresa by: Sue
Lyricism, humor, an expansive worldview, a sort of magical realism (as I said of his Mink River), a guardian gull and a twist on Moby-Dick or, The Whale (There’s no whale and that’s not the twist.): I enjoyed this immensely, though I think I enjoyed Mink River just a bit more, but perhaps that’s only because I read it first.

I’d been meaning to read another book by Doyle for awhile now and decided to read this right away after hearing of his recent death. His final words at the end of his ‘Thanks
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you are drawn to words, Brian Doyle's Song to the Pacific will prove a delight. If you are drawn to the ocean, it will be even more so. His writing exuberance is evident from the first chapter as words leap over and over each other like porpoises plying the playful sea.

At first you think it will be the story of a lone sailor, Declan, moving philosophically around the lonely Pacific on his 30-foot home-with-a-hull, the Plover, but soon you realize that this is a story about humanity as much a
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Plover is not exactly a sequel to Mink River -- more of a companion piece -- but fans of the latter will be thrilled to find out what happened to one of the most beloved characters. After sailing his little boat off the final pages of Mink River, the story of Declan O'Donnell continues in The Plover. Declan is a man of serious solitude and he is pleased to be starting a journey of peace and quiet. But, there is no quiet in Brian Doyle's head -- it is full of magic, mutterings and musings, an ...more
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gratis, favourites, 2014

I can't believe that I put this book off for so long! On the bright side however, discovering an fortuitously great book brings the same gleeful joy as finding cash in your couch. And boy did I ever hit the jackpot with this gem.

I will admit that it took me a while to get into this book but once I did it was hard to put down. I found myself thinking about it all day and dreaming about it all night. I loved all the characters in this story and the writing is smooth and magical and wise. So wise!
Richard Sutton
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Take a bow, Mr. Doyle, and publisher Thomas Dunne, too! A book like The Plover has becoming such a rarity lately, your work shines like a star breaking through the clouds. Now, I can see how the run-on sentences and dancing viewpoints might daunt some readers; but as a sailor with close to forty years on the water, I found the cadence of the main character’s almost steady chants of self-deprecation and fix-it preoccupations very familiar. This is not a book for every reader; but rather, for thos ...more
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2016
I loved it. Just loved it.

A few years ago I read a completely different book that had a quote that somehow applies to The Plover & to my reading of it. “Sometimes when she told stories about the past her eyes would get teary from all the memories she had, but they weren't tears. She wasn't crying. They were just the memories, leaking out.” (The quote is from A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.) The Plover is not my book. Not my story. It doesn't hold my memories. But when the tears leak
Sep 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Declan is a character I barely remembered from Mink River - his sister, Grace, was a bit more noteworthy. But as soon as he opened his mouth - as soon as that first "fecking feck" left his tongue - I suddenly had a jolt of recognition. Lost at sea - or so the citizens of Neawanaka assume when he sails one day and never returns. But that fate is far too simple for such a strong person as Declan O'Donnell. Turns out he had more in store than simply disappearing into the great unknown.

What gets me
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I finished ‘The Plover’ several days ago and am only now writing this review. I was tired when I finished and I thought to myself, I will do this later. I have to let the words sit.

The words have sat.

In the meantime I have taken in many more words, but different kinds of words. I read an anthropology book, a fairy tale, a history book, a book in translation from Spanish with short, choppy words. The way those words stayed inside of me is very different from how Brian’s words now stay inside me
Maria Tizon-huskey
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Plover piqued my curiosity instantly. Firstly, because I had no idea what a plover was. (Its a bird, in case you don't know either) Secondly, because the small paper plaque that was posted under the book on the shelf at Powell's told me that it was about a man setting off from the Oregon Coast and heading west because he was tired of people and all their people problems. I love that idea. Sometimes, you pick up a book and you know, right then and there, that you have to read it. I started re ...more
Deb W
Jun 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: NOBODY
I checked this out based on the glowing review of my favorite bookseller, waxing poetic about Doyle's prose. I HATE his prose.

Note to author:
1. If you have more than one semicolon in a sentence and it isn't providing a list of phrases, you need to seriously think about the use of periods. Reading your text is exhausting.
2. IF you were attempting to record the protagonist's stream of conscious thoughts by the multiple semicolons and commas that lead the reader along a crooked path, the techniq
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Plover by Brian Doyle is a unique kind of book. If you liked Mink River, this book is even better. Reading The Plover is kind of like having someone quietly whisper to your soul. Doyle writes with a stream-of-thought style, which makes you feel that you’re floating along with a vibrant and tangible dream, the best kind of dream, where you know if you try hard enough you can make yourself fly. This is one of those books that perfectly encapsulates why I love to read. It is a friendly voice wh ...more
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The list of features I'd include in "What It Takes to Make a Good Novel" is pretty short:
1) You've got a plot. Good guys, bad guys. A touch of danger. Multiple threads gradually coming together. In short, a story that I want to hear.
2) You've got characters. Diverse and deep. At one level, they feel just like people I've met in real life. At another level, they're fascinating in how unlike they are to anyone I've ever known.
3) Your characters speak like human beings. Oh, the books I've groaned m
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
What a discovery that you find yourself congratulating yourself over and feel compelled to spread the word about. I discovered this book while weeding our collection. Surprisingly it's only less than a year old and no one had read it. It's another hidden gem. It's like Life of Pi meet Kon Tiki meet The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. It's got some great writing and lines like: "Maybe the ocean feels every boat like a scar on its skin and only permits them to pass so that its knowledge of men deepe ...more
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: by-the-sea
I first came across Declan O'Donnell in Brian Doyle's Mink River. A good place for the reader to begin if he/she has not yet done so. In our book discussion group regarding Mink River, Declan's name came up more than once - "What do you think happened to him? Did he commit suicide?" My thought was no, definitely not; and in the Plover, I was delighted to find that the author brings Declan front and center as he begins his journey west and then west, away from the small village of Neawanaka on th ...more
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
Original review found at

I received an advanced readers copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is April 8, 2014.

I had very high expectations for this book after seeing all of the positive reviews on Goodreads. I couldn't wait to dive into it and see for myself.

Unfortunately this book fell short for me. I struggled to get through it and found that I could only read a little bit at a ti
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book from Goodreads, and with a number of other books I have won, am truly grateful. Based on the description of The Plover, I am not sure that I would have gone out to buy this book. But the writing is absolutely lovely and the characters are original and interesting. There is a bit of a surreal element to the story -- it's never clear where it takes place and the characters drift in and out of each other's lives as though the world is a tiny place. It's a book that breaks a few moul ...more
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you haven't read Brian Doyle's novels, I urge you to start pronto, preferably with Mink River, the book to which The Plover is a related, chronologically subsequent narrative. Unlike MR, which offers many perspectives and multiple plotlines, The Plover focuses on Declan O'Donnell's sea voyage in the Pacific and the people he encounters on his journey. Gorgeous writing, unique characters, and a drop of the magic-real should enthrall and entertain most every soul.
Dec 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved

*blinks harder*

sinks into a pile of conflicting emotions

some background: This summer, under an English professor at WashU, i read "The Greatest Nature Essay ever", a short essay that completely knocked me out of the water.

I then googled Brian Doyle and found that he had written a couple novels, of course which I had to get my hands on.

I think Doyle is better suited as a short story, poetry, essay writer. Although, who am I to say that I don't have
Tam G
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books which is essentially a love affair with the sound of words. The characters are compelling and various, but even they seem to understand that the plot is going to be the random sort and cheerfully accept the voyage and vulnerability, lists and longing, sailing and stories, healing and humanity.

This book made me smile, a lot. Sometimes it made me sad. Sometimes I laughed. It did a good job mixing up joy and work and cussing and awe and death and healing. Life.
When I told my husband I'd finished The Plover, his first comment was, "I bet you're going to give The Plover a lot of stars on Goodreads."

Yup, he knows me well.

This is, quite simply, a marvelous book - I loved it at least as much as I loved Mink River. That's saying quite a bit. Mink River is quite possibly in my top 5 books... ever.

Doyle clearly has a style. I can read a passage (say, an essay in a magazine) and know, within lines, that it's Doyle. The lyrical language, the lists, the aside
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ناراحتم که تموم شد.
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very different book than what I usually read and it is 1) hard to rate and 2) hard to review. It is mostly the difference of the Narrative voice, I think. I have forgotten most of that fancy stuff I learned in English classes over the years about different perspectives and blah blah narrative; this one is all told from One voice. The things people say are not set apart with quotation marks but blend into the story, all the same voice. One person talking talking talking and doing impres ...more
Great books leave me at a loss for words. I will try to tell you about The Plover, but I don’t think I will do it justice.

Declan O’Donnell is escaping a messy life (we only learn bits and pieces of the mess, but like most good messes, it involves family) by sailing “west and then west” off of the Oregon coast into the Pacific Ocean on his fishing boat, the Plover. He intends to bob along aimlessly and alone but right off the bat he is joined by a seagull who follows him out onto the ocean. Decl
Ragan Dendy
"Misneach" -a word that's repeated throughout the book that means 'courage.' It's definitely a fitting word for this book that deals with the breaking down of walls. Declan, the protagonist, says to hell with John Donne's "no man is an island" adage and sets sail alone on his ship, The Plover. Unfortunately for Declan, he discovers that Donne is right, and what ensues is varying adventures as Declan accrues more and more crew members. Told in beautiful prose and streams of consciousness, The Plo ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Can't begin to tell you how much I adored this book and how excited to discover another stupendous author. Brian Doyle is a perfect wordsmith. He managed to capture the souls of many types of creatures, and give them a whimsical although sobering voice throughout this tale. If you like boats, water, curmudgeons, old souls and adventure, visit The Plover. You won't be disappointed.
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how to categorize the genre[s] of this novel despite rating it a 4****. First, I really liked it; the writing style [made up of mostly sentence fragments or run-on sentences] didn't bother me in the least. I felt it fit a sea story: waves lapping at the boat, sometimes more vigorously and sometimes the flow of the novel is more lulling, The story's quickly told: a young man, Declan O Donnell, sets out alone from Oregon to sail westward, ever westward, his only companion a gull flyin ...more
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set sail aboard The Plover with Declan O'Donnell who only wants to escape humanity out on the Pacific with his beloved writings of Edmund Burke. "No man is an island, my butt" he is quick to say, but it seems that people are much harder to leave behind than he thought. Bit by bit he accumulates more humans and animal life on his journey than he bargained for. This is so well written, Brian Doyle has a gift for making the most mundane situations sound so beautifully poetic. I listened to the audi ...more
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Doyle's essays and poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The American Scholar, Orion, Commonweal, and The Georgia Review, among other magazines and journals, and in The Times of London, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Kansas City Star, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Ottawa Citizen, and Newsday, among other newspapers. He is a book reviewer for The Oregonian and a contributing ess ...more
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“People make too much of facts. Also people make too much of gut feelings. Gut feelings probably mean food poisoning.” 5 likes
“There are some silences that are so huge, and fraught, and haunted, and weighed, and shocked, that they just are; there's nothing you can say about them that makes any sense. All you can do is witness them, and feel some deep ache that such things arrive, and must be endured, with wordless aching all around.” 4 likes
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