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The Thrill of It All

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  476 ratings  ·  69 reviews
At college in 1980s Luton, Robbie Goulding, an Irish-born teenager, meets elusive Fran Mulvey, an orphaned Vietnamese refugee. Together they form a band. Joined by cellist Sarah-Th�r�se Sherlock and her twin brother Se�n on drums, The Ships in the Night set out to chase fame. But the story of this makeshift family is haunted by ghosts from the past.

Spanning 25 years, The T
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Harvill Secker
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3.74  · 
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 ·  476 ratings  ·  69 reviews

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Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this novel, author Joseph O’Connor has woven a fascinating tale of a fictional band, which reads like a real biography. In a way, it could well be a true story as it mirrors so many events in the life of bands and musicians that I have read – indeed, O’Connor is well placed to write such a tale, as his sister is the singer Sinead O’Connor.

The novel is told from the point of view of Robbie Goulding, ex-member of famous band The Ships in the Night. The first part of the book takes him from 1981
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
My third O'Connor novel and my least favourite. Something all three have in common is they are too long. He's an author who tends to get carried away with his own exuberance. The Thrill of it all is about a rock band in the 1980s, narrated for the most part by the guitarist who fancies himself as a stand-up comedian and with his relentless maudlin self-deprecation was difficult to imagine as ever having known success in his life. I found it virtually impossible to imagine what kind of music his ...more
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this novel, author Joseph O’Connor has woven a fascinating tale of a fictional band, which reads like a real biography. In a way, it could well be a true story as it mirrors so many events in the life of bands and musicians that I have read – indeed, O’Connor is well placed to write such a tale, as his sister is the singer Sinead O’Connor.

The novel is told from the point of view of Robbie Goulding, ex-member of famous band The Ships in the Night. The first part of the book takes him from 198
Aug 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma Flanagan
Jun 26, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book but I didn't love it. It's well written, extremely funny (often in quite an Irish way) and filled with engaging characters. Yet for all this I never warmed to it. I never felt emotionally invested in the characters. I feel this was more for personal reasons then any fault with the book itself. As I said it's well written and would have no hesitations about recommending it to people. It just wasn't for me.
Storia della fondazione, fatica per arrivare al successo, crisi esistenziali, litigi per soldi, droga, donne, diritti, musica, canzoni, disfacimento, crolli, abbandoni di un gruppo inglese/irlandese degli anni ottanta formato da tre ragazzi e una ragazza. Parte bene ma verso un terzo del libro si perde. Non prende, non coinvolge fino in fondo. Peccato. Bell'elenco di canzoni durante la narrazione, come poi recita la fascetta gialla aggiunta dall'editore: "... Gli appassionati saranno entusiasti ...more
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked this but didn't love it. O'Connor can be long winded, as I've found out before, and I felt the same issue in this book. Perhaps my penchant for actual music bios/ memoirs coloured my opinion on this as well - a few musical references, while accurate, grated with me as a result. An enjoyable enough read when I picked it up, but one of those books that I was finding other things to do rather than heading straight for it.
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
This has been my on train reading this week, since I've spent a lot of time on trains (obviously). I kind of liked it, since it's like the autobiography you want to read from your favourite bands, but in this case it's fictional.

Instead of an awful band name, and awful made up band names of their era, this comes off completely legit. Patti Smith was the dream girl, name a band of each spoken of era and it's probably mentioned, more so it's relevant - it's not just a name drop, but there's always
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
La proprietà era un furto; la repubblica dei lavoratori l’avrebbe abolita. Da ognuno secondo le sue capacità – era il suo credo –, a ognuno secondo i suoi bisogni. Ma quando la sua tesi gli si rivoltò contro sotto forma della richiesta dell’amplificatore, diventò più thatcherista del Daily Mail nel suo accalorato rifiuto e nella difesa del possesso privato. «L’amplificatore è mio, capito?, ritardato che non hai voglia di lavorare»

Qualche architetto che viveva a Perugia o in una canonica r
From BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:
Joseph O'Connor's novel spans 25 years and charts the rise and fall of a rock band
Bruce Johns
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had two bites at Joseph O’Connor’s novel, hearing the first half on audiobook during a holiday then reading the paperback after finding a copy in Oxfam. As a result it was Ciarán Hinds’ restrained, confiding brogue that rose to me from the printed word, even when it was a woman speaking. For once my imagination, normally insistent on playing every part, did not complain. Being read to is a pleasure, even when the voice is inside one’s head.

The Thrill Of It All relates the slow ascent and rapid
Slávek Rydval
Naprosto promarněná příležitost jinak velmi dobrého spisovatele. Plytký příběh nijak výjimečný, ačkoliv by z toho šlo vytřískat mnohem víc. Do toho pravopisné chyby a překlepy. Nedoporučuji. Raději sáhněte po Obchodníkovi nebo Hvězdě moří.
Ryan Williams
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Faux-memoir about being in a band from adolescence onwards by its lead singer. The milieu is roughly a decade before my day yet it feels timeless in all the right places. (I'm betting everyone knows at least one 'Shay.')

The memoir approach has its uses: it automatically shapes and paces the material, planing away the inessentials. It’s also realistic and quite self-depreciating - far from usual in novels of this type. It’s also a page-turner with a disgustingly high number of pithy phrases that
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Book Review

The Thrill of it all by Joseph O’Connor

It is an age old story. Boy meets boy, they form a band, conquer the world, become rich and successful, one marries the other’s girlfriend, before a bittersweet reunion gig.

1980’s Luton is not the most exotic of places, but it was where Robbie Goulding met the much more mysterious and charismatic Fran Mulvey, and together with cellist Sarah, and her drummer brother Sean, the Ships in the Night are formed. Over the course of twenty five years, the
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
If anything is ripe for satire it is rock journalism and rock biographies. They’re so filled with clichés and stereotypes, how could you not want to send them up?

Film-makers have already done so with the 1984 cult classic “mockumentary” This is Spinal Tap, which satirises the so-called wild antics of a fictionalised heavy metal band, and the more recent BBC4 TV series, Brian Pern: A Life in Rock, which lampoons Peter Gabriel’s career (with Peter Gabriel’s endorsement).

Now Irish writer Joseph O’C
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Many may disagree but I found this book to be self indulgent and irritating. I found myself intensely disliking the author about half way through. The show off-ish writing style is clunky and makes the story flow poorly. The story is not a bad one but for me I can feel too much of the author in the story (I know nothing about the author so this is just my own sense of it). I know this could or should be considered a positive but it just wasn't for me. I want to read about the character, not the ...more
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novel structured as a musicians memoir, and like all memoirs, the narrator, Robert Goulding, is somewhat unreliable. The first third of this book is one of the funniest pieces I've read in a long time; it provoked belly aching, throat shredding, tear inducing helpless laughter in me. It's such an enjoyable part - the fizz of being young, broke and crazy about music, starting a band, creating songs - such a rush to read about.
As Rob ages, the mood darkens and loses some of it's early vim - but
Frances Wilde
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This novel was practically written for me- about Irish people living in England, starting a band!? That's my life story! I always LOVE Joseph O'Connor's unique and believable way of telling a story, and creating completely original characters. This book tore me apart, from making me want to start a band when I go to university to putting me off playing with and therefore relying on others. I loved Robbie so much by the end that there were shameless tears at gruelling moments. It wasn't what I ex ...more
Michael Bohli
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, music
Nebst "Der Boden unter ihren Füssen" ist "Die wilde Ballade vom lauten Leben" bereits der zweite Roman über eine fiktive Band, den ich 2015 lese. Im Gegensatz zu Rushdies schwerem und poetischem Wälzer, gestaltet sich der Roman von Joseph O'Connor als lockere und spassige Lektüre.

Erzählt aus der Perspektive des Sängers und mit vielen Verweisen auf die reale Popkultur vollgestopft, ist die Geschichte über "The Ships" eine fast wahre Biografie, wie sie sich nur in dem Musikbusiness abspielen könn
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-books
I enjoyed the first half of this audiobook (the beginnings of the band, etc.), Joseph O'Connors use of language making some parts of this book laugh out loud funny (which caused some funny looks from my fellow pedestrians on my way to work every morning), but it dipped somewhat in the second half . Thankfully read by a narrator who could produce various credible Irish accents well, Ciaran Hynes. Not my favourite Joseph O'Connor book but enjoyable nonetheless.
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
This book has it all. Life, love and rock and roll.

The story of a fictional band "The Ships", their inception and demise. You feel you are living the life with them, drink, drugs and living in a horse transporter. I loved all the musical references, memories, memories!

The story of friendship, beautifully written.
Piego di Libri
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una doppia anima. Una prima, la principale, di romanzo (di formazione potremmo aggiungere) in cui convivono momenti esilaranti e altri malinconici. Una seconda, di excursus nella musica...
Dita di Polvere
Gran bello spaccato del mondo musicale. Amicizia, amore, problemi di dipendenza, la voglia di arrivare al successo e il desiderio di autodistruzione quando questo successo finalmente arriva: tutto questo si mescola, fino al sorprendente finale. Promosso a pieni voti :)
Sarah Harkness
Jun 01, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the opening chapters of this book, as the band formed itself in Luton. And the final section is lovely, moving, emotionally satisfying. But it drags a bit in the middle. Stick with it!
Regina Dooley
Aug 31, 2014 rated it liked it
I think Joe O'Connor is a great writer but I was disappointed with this book. I was waiting for the plot to become more interesting but it never really developed.
Michelle Keane
Jul 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Its a really good book, with some wonderful writing and turns of phrase but it was probably longer than it needed it be.. It did drag a little at times.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book, which follows the fortunes of a (fictional) rock band, from formation by a group of students, through personal and professional trials and tribulations. There is an element of cliche - of *course* they go off the rails with alcohol, drugs etc, of *course* one of them becomes a monstrous egotist - you tend to expect those kind of elements in this sort of story, but it is written well enough that you can accept that. The story also functions as a look at how people change ...more
Ross Mccall
Jul 14, 2017 rated it liked it
This read like a genuine memoir of an 80s era rock guitarist. Thanks to the Irish flavor the humour was great throughout. In the end I only gave it 3 stars because I felt it lacked tension or a sense of going somewhere quickly enough for long stretches. The ending was satisfying though and as a music lover this felt like a novel tailor made for me.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Místy velmi chaotické vyprávnění, mnohokrát jsem se ztratila v čase.. ale tak už to asi má být, když se má jednat o biografii bývalé hvězdy. Člověk pak lehce nabyde dojmu, že si pisatel mnoho věcí už tak přesně nepamatuje, jelikož byl až moc pod obraz. Všichni, co mají ale alespoň nějaký přehled o hudbě, v nejlepším případě umí i na něco hrát, si však dle mého knihu užijou.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lite seg i andra halvan. Jag hade gärna läst mer om vad som faktiskt hände, hellre än att Rob bara antyder det. Dock blev jag glatt överraskad över de sista sidorna och som helhet var det en trevlig läsning.
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There is more than one author with this name

Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. He is the author of the novels Cowboys and Indians (short-listed for the Whitbread Prize), Desperadoes , The Salesman , Inishowen , Star of the Sea and Redemption Falls , as well as a number of bestselling works of non-fiction.

He was recently voted ‘Irish Writer of the Decade’ by the readers of Hot Press magazi