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This Human Season

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  196 ratings  ·  31 reviews
November 1979, the height of Northern Ireland’s Troubles. Kathleen Moran’s son Sean has just been transferred to the hypersecure H-block in Belfast’s notorious Maze prison, where he soon emerges as a young but impor­tant force in the extreme protest, known as the Blanket, that political prisoners are staging there. John Dunn is also newly arrived at the prison, having take ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 5th 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2005)
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Average rating 3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  196 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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May 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book was just ok. That's the only way I can describe it. None of the characters were terribly memorable and the mixing of the character's viewpoints, instead of enhancing the story only served to convolute matters and make none of the characters very likeable. It took me a good majority of the book to fully grasp the plot and the author's intent in writing this and the plot moved very very slowly. No major/imperative plot moments - just a lot of slice of life style writing. One of the princ ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it liked it
The story started off strong but unfortunately I forced myself to finish it.
May 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Weird story with a horrible ending.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Kim (Reading Matters)
I’ve only ever read one book set in Northern Ireland – but that was nothing like as confronting as this one. David Park’s The Light of Amsterdam (2012) is a comparatively recent book which makes no mention of the conflict known as the Troubles at all. This Human Season, by contrast is grounded in the Troubles. It tells the parallel stories of a mother whose 19-year-old son has just been sent to the notorious Maze Prison, and a man who has just started work there as a prison guard.
I am mindful th
Helen Callaghan
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I don't know what's been happening lately - I've had a load of barely started books on the go for the last few months while I've been working on the first draft of Find Me, and no energy to finish any. It's only now the draft is completed that I've been able to properly sink into them. And how much I've enjoyed them - it reminds me again that all books are a two-way street, not something you passively consume. You also have to bring your A-game to them, and not just the other way around.

This Hum
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ireland
Well-written novel set in a difficult period in the history of Northern Ireland. I was tempted to quit early on - it seemed likely that there was going to be violence associated with at least some of the characters in the book - but I'm glad I continued. The well-drawn characters, the flashes of humor, the insight into how people react to very trying circumstances made the book ultimately quite rewarding.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this book, but I stopped in the first few pages. The author thinks that people say “Jesus, Joseph and Mary’ instead of Jesus Mary and Joseph. The language is irritating. I knew the Belfast of that time, I still know the people and the language and this was just too irritating to continue.
Shelley Motz
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book shattered me, but I’d read it again. I recommend you do, too. It gave me insight into The Troubles in Northern Ireland, yes, but it also made me think more deeply about the human condition overall and the impact of our day-to-day choices on the world around us.
Anne Gibbons-Ellis

How she managed to write with such knowledge and balance about these awful times is amazing. She brought the horror and humour together to keep this reader entranced. A first class writer whose other books I'll now seek out.
Melanie Garrett
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The characterisation and the evocation of time and place are nothing short of triumphant. THIS HUMAN SEASON reads like a love letter to the cadences of smoky Irish voices.
Jun 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Tragic is the operative word for this novel. At first, I didn't like the way the novel progressed, since this is one of those novels that are unkind to the reader. But as I persevered, it grew on me, painting a picture that was rather grim and tragic.

So, what is this novel about? This novel revolves around The Troubles in Northern Ireland, with alternating chapters between the story of John Dunn, his girlfriend Angie, and his son Mark Wilson; and the story of Sean Moran and his family. John Dunn
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I will start on a slight negative for me which was the rigid alternating chapters of one being about Kathleen Moran's family including her son Sean who was in Long Kesh "on the blanket" and the next about John Dunn, ex-soldier come prison officer working in The Maze. I found that I was initially more interested in the story of Kathleen and her family and it was almost irritating to have to read about the prison officer's life. However I am glad I persevered as John Dunn's story developed well an ...more
Alex Csicsek
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
1979 Belfast was a pervasively political place. Which makes it all the more curious that Dean's novel is the stuff of personal and human tragedy.

This Human Season is far too sophisticated to ignore the politics of its setting, but those politics are integrated in a wonderfully natural way that allow them to serve as an impetus without overshadowing the characters themselves. And this novel is very much about the characters. It tells the stories of two individuals who couldn't be more different:
Sep 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, political
I read this just after re-reading Belfast Diary by John Conroy, which I had originally read as a textbook in a college course on the History of Ireland.

The book is set in 1979, right in the thick of "The Troubles" period of Ireland, just before a round of hunger strikes by Catholic prisoners. Reading it just after a good historical context book worked really well, I think. The fiction fits right into the non-fiction framework set up in my head by Conroy's book, and little plot points or obscure
Evanston Public  Library
Belfast, 1979, is the setting for Dean's second novel. It is told from the point of view of Kathleen Moran whose young son Sean is being held in the Maze prison's notorious H-block, and of John Dunn, a guard at the prison. Sean is taking part in the "dirty protest" that Irish Republican prisoners organized when they were denied the rights of political detainees. Dunn, retired from the British Army, has taken his job out of necessity rather than because of any strong convictions about the Trouble ...more
Nov 02, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because it is set in Belfast in 1979, during the hunger strikes, made famous by the death of Bobby Sands, in the Maze prison. I lived in Belfast during that year and I was naturally interested in how this book portrayed the hunger strikes and the people affected by them. The book has no heroes, nor anyone that I could find sympathy for, nor anyone that I could even vaguely like. In addition, even though the subject matter was fascinating, the narrative was boring and I just lost ...more
Jan 12, 2009 added it
Shelves: 2006
Ireland. 1979. 2 months before Christmas. The Northern Ireland Troubles. Kathleen with grown up son in prison and husband god knows where. John, prison guard who has finally found himself a girl (not Kathleen). "...both K and J will find themselves in impossible situations. Both will have to find a way when everything they love is in danger of being destroyed."

It was very hard to get into this book. Half away through I still wasn't engaged... Too many characters, too little happening. But it was
Georgia Gross
Sep 08, 2007 rated it liked it
This novel takes place in Ireland, December 1979, the height of "the troubles". It chronicles the worry of a mother whose son has recently been sent to jail and the life of a newly appointed prison guard. I am interested in doing more research on the IRA and then reading this book again when I have more than a mere cursory understanding. I have Armed Struggle:The History of the IRA, but I haven't read it yet.
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Nancy S, Kat W
Shelves: best-2011
Really interesting novel about Belfast in the late 1970s told from several pov - the mother of a prisoner, a British prison guard, the community priest. Very sympathetic to the human condition rather than one side or the other. One plotline went where I thought it would go, the other was a total and rather wonderful surprise.
Katy Brandes
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Finally finished this took a long time to get into it. The characters started to come to life about half-way through. You get to see both points of view with no bias, and it's a tragic story (albeit fictionalized) no matter which. Definitely a good read if you're interested in this history.
Matthew Stuart
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Other reviewers did not seem to like the characters in this book. Maybe it is hereditary, maybe genetics, but I thought they were very good. Good persons overwhelmed, understandingly so, by the situation. Picture yourself, one son in Maze prison the other on route. I found it realistic and tragic. A land of no winners.
Jul 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Excellent story told of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1979-told by two points of view; a guard at the Maze prison and the mother of one of the prisoners. Their lives are so similar; bleak and sad with no other outcome except death.
Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2008
A really moving and engrossing tale of two families on seemingly opposite sides of The Troubles. Excellently written and absolutely recommended.
Jun 28, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I didn't make to read this one yet, although I bought it a long time ago...
Jul 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2000-2007
I think you might have to have an interest in the 'situation' in Northern Ireland to truly appreciate this book.
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
An excellent novel about Irish prisoners and prison guards during The Troubles. Tough decisions have to be made all around. I won't say more, except that I really enjoyed this novel.
Katrina Bergherm
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
Mildy interesting but often hard to understand. Set in Ireland. Not thrilled with the ending.
Stina Leicht
Oct 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Helpful for research - gave a female POV to Troubles.
Jun 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
I hated this badly written book.
Bionic Jean
Sep 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Grim novel set in Northern Ireland in 1979 at the height of the Troubles. Did not finish.
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Louise is the founder of The new online creative writing courses.

Louise Dean has won the Society of Authors Betty Trask Prize, Le Prince Maurice Prize, been nominated for The Guardian First Book Prize, and longlisted for the Booker Prize.  Her first book 'Becoming Strangers' was named one of The Observer's top four books of the year, and her most recent book 'The Old Romantic' an

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