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My Coney Island Baby

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  646 ratings  ·  145 reviews

On a bitterly cold winter’s afternoon, Michael and Caitlin escape their unhappy marriages to keep an illicit rendez-vous. Once a month, for the past quarter of a century, Coney Island has been their haven.

These precious, hidden hours are their only nourishment. But now, amid the howling of an angry snowstorm, the shut-down, out-of-sea
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 17th 2019 by Jonathan Cape
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Average rating 3.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  646 ratings  ·  145 reviews

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John Banville's book of the year 2019!
"A lush, precise, poetic account of a love affair that ends the way most love affairs do. We knew O’Callaghan to be a master of the short story, and here he shows the grand reach of his powers as a novelist." Source.
One of my favourite authors praising another of my favourite authors!

- - - - - - - -

When seeking words to explore her bereavement, US poet Mary Oliver wrote*:
It’s close to hopeless,
for what I want to say the red-bird
has said already, and better,
Angela M
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adultery is hard to condone but their love is hard to deny. Michael and Caitlin meet one day each month as they have for twenty five years, deeply in love with each other but married to others. This is an introspective and beautifully written story that takes place on the day of one of those meetings, on a freezing, blustery day at a hotel near Coney Island. In alternating points of view, we get the story of their present circumstances, how they met, what their marriages are like, traumatic expe ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019, reviewed, ireland
Ah, but remember that the city is a funny place
Something like a circus or a sewer
And just remember, different people have peculiar tastes
And the glory of love, the glory of love
The glory of love, might see you through.

(Lou Reed)

Having read a few enthusiast five stars reviews, I decided to take this novel home from the library. As the novel is pitched as a ‘piercing meditation on middle-age and the passing of time’, several friends praised the masterful stylish prose of the author and the title r
4.5 stars

"Sometimes it seems unclear which of her two lives is the greater reality. Once she has slipped back into her homely skin, the afternoons spent with Michael, heightened by their rationing, take on the sensations of a dream. Against their memory, the world feels staid, and empty."

Caitlyn may not understand which life is the greater reality – the one spent with Michael an afternoon each month in a seedy motel room on Coney Island, or the one spent with her husband the rest of those days f
Elyse  Walters
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kindle $1.99 Special Today...
I thought the writing was beautiful.... the imagery vivid... and the sensitive story so very human.
A bargain of a price.

Coney Island is their place.
“The best may have been lost but an air of romance remains”.

Caitlin and Michael, both in their 40s... aware of aging ... have been meeting every Tuesday, once a month for twenty years.
They are both married to other people.

Michael’s wife, Barb, is scheduled for 55 cycles of chemo therapy. Words like aggressive, and me
Diane S ☔
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor-2019
They met once a month on Coney Island. Have done so for many years now. They love each other, but both are married to other people. As we walk with them on a windy, cold day on a Coney Island that is a shadow of what it once was, as we enter the hotel room that is far from new, rather seedy, we learn their story.

O'Callaghan may be my new, favorite wordsmith. His writing is descriptive, sometimes one may think it overdone, but it is beautiful, emotive. These two people are committing adultery, bu
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
...right and wrong are not always laid in straight lines.

Read this for the words, for the turns of phrase.  Risk your heart, the beauty of it is stunning.  Appreciating the value of small things, tasting a word as it is spoken, a mouth finally giving up a smile, the comfort of holding hands and saying nothing at all.  Couples who are together, yet separate, sharing their isolation.
’And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows’

--And So It Goes, Billy Joel, Songwriters: Billy Joel

”The air out here is mean with cold. It was bitter on the journey out from Manhattan too, but nothing like this. This is bleakness without respite. “

So begins O’Callaghan’s My Coney Island Baby which shares the lives of a couple in their middle years who have been secretly meeting for twenty-some years, once a month in a room with ”a bed rented by the hour.” Between
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Two middle-aged lovers brave the deserted, wintry boardwalk of Coney Island. The wind is howling. A snowstorm has been forecast. Michael and Caitlin walk hand in hand to a seedy hotel for their once monthly day of emotional and physical sharing. They have done so for twenty-five years. It started with a chance meeting at a bar. Michael was reeling from the death of his fourteen week old son. His wife, Barbara was "entrenched" in a state of isolation while Michael worked two jobs trying not to "f ...more
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-books
My Coney Island Baby by Billy O'Callaghan begins with Michael and Caitlin on their way to an off-season hotel on Coney Island for their monthly rendez-vous, something they have been committed to for the past twenty-five years. Michael and Caitlin are married but not to each other. As a winter storm approaches, the couple must decide whether to continue their affair or leave each other forever. Michael's wife is seriously ill with cancer and Caitlin's husband may be transferred to the Midwest. As ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
No wonder this author is well-loved! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

My Coney Island Baby is my first Billy O’Callaghan novel, and this author is highly recommended by several of my Goodreads friends.

Michael and Caitlin are each married to other people, but they have met monthly in a run down hotel in Coney Island. Their love affair has continued for years and has enabled them to stay in the comfort and routine of their unhappy marriages.

During one month’s visit, there’s a storm brewing outside and also a storm b
DNF at 38%
I’m leaving this one unrated, because I have immensely enjoyed previous works by this author. This just wasn’t for me.
This novel comes from a short story in the author’s book The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind. I loved the short story in the previous book, but this just seemed to go on in a different way.. felt padded, as another reviewer stated... when I saw that word mentioned, I’m like, yes... that’s exactly it, just going on to fill pages.
This one was rough for me to r
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
My Coney Island Baby is my first Billy O’Callaghan novel, and this author is highly recommended by several of my Goodreads friends.

Michael and Caitlin are each married to other people, but they have met monthly in a run down hotel in Coney Island. Their love affair has continued for years and has enabled them to stay in the comfort of their unhappy marriages.

During one month’s visit, there’s a storm brewing outside, and also a storm brewing inside. Michael’s wife has cancer, and Caitlin’s husb
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
My Coney Island Baby captured an afternoon of a couple’s tryst in a dingy pit-stop hotel room on Coney Island. O’Callaghan told a non-judgmental and tender story about adultery and the complexity of love.

For twenty five years, Michael and Caitlin have been meeting secretly once a month on Coney Island. Both are unhappy in their married lives and the monthly rendezvous is the lifeline that keeps them afloat. A story like this gives a real face to the fragility of marriage even for couples who lov
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
At times, My Coney Island Baby felt like the novelistic equivalent of a pointillistic painting — every emotion, thought and interaction broken down and examined carefully and separately. Michael and Caitlin have been lovers for years. They meet once a month on Coney Island. The rest of the time, they endure marriages that seem to have long passed their expiration dates. O’Callaghan paints one of their afternoons together, while flashing back to parts of their separate lives. The writing and atte ...more
Lynne King
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written book about a couple who, to escape their unhappy marriages, have been meeting once a month for twenty-five years on Coney Island.

The substance was however not really for me. Michael divulges that his wife Barb has cancer and with exquisitely written and yet sensitive flashbacks we are kept informed of the progress of her disease and how it affects the lives of the pair of them.

Caitlin also has her ghosts with her husband and his rather discreet affairs. Nevertheless
Mar 08, 2019 marked it as abandoned-on-hold
Shelves: timeout-bookclub
Well that was the quickest abandonment in history (pg 4)

She finds his tongue and rolls it gently with the tip of her own, forces its pulp against the rim of her upper front teeth. He goes willingly. Her mouth has the heat of tea

Nope, sorry bookclub I can't do it.
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
For 20+ years, Coney Island has been the secret rendezvous for Michael and Caitlin.  Each is in an unhappy marriage and once a month the pair escape for a few short hours to make love and consider their lives and choices.

Michael's wife has recently received a grim diagnosis and Caitlin could soon be relocated out of state if her husband receives a promotion.  On a bitter winter day, the couple discusses things that have been avoided for decades and the possibilities in their future.

My Coney Isla
It's depressing not liking what everyone else loves!
What is wrong with me?
I simply cannot get my head around this book!

Two middle-aged lovers meet the first Tuesday of every month on Coney Island, Brooklyn. They have been doing this for twenty-five years. Michael and Caitlin are the two lovers. We share their hours together on one cold, damp and windy Tuesday in January, in a hotel room rented for one day. It is off-season. The deserted, ramshackle one-night stand has seen better days.

Normally I would never reach for a book with a title that smells that much of chicklit. But apparently, I can be influenced by my literary friends, who highly recommended this novel in their reviews. Also, the setting of the story, the past glory of Coney Island, New York, seemed a plus. Unfortunately, it was a bad trip. It was the style of O'Callaghan in particular that made me bite the dust: the far-fetched metaphors, the excessive atmospheric elements, sometimes the senseless muddle of words, ...more
Wendy Cosin
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irish
This novel is astounding. Not much happens - two middle-aged lovers (heterosexual, white) spend one winter day together in Coney Island, where they have met monthly for 25 years. The exquisitely detailed story of the day is broken up with background about his childhood in Ireland and both of their continued marriages.

There are two pages (80 & 81) that I liked so much I copied them and show them to people. Caitlin's frank observations of Michael's aging body and her love for him touch me deeply.
Anne Griffin
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read this heartbreaking book if you want to read breathtaking language. Billy O'Callaghan is one of Ireland's best short-story, and now novel, writers. He is unsurpassed in his ability to form a sentence so beautiful that you are forced to re-read his words again and again, appreciating his mastery like a work of art hanging on a gallery wall. If you are a writer, this is a must read. ...more
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holding-off
My grandmother lived near Coney Island and when I was a child, I was always a bit in awe of its magic and enchantment, always undercut by a prevailing sense of menace an a hint of unreality.

In Billy O’Callaghan’s novel, his merging of marvel with a seedy underbelly is on display in this tale of illicit love. Michael and Caitlin, two lovers in their late 40s, escape their tedious marriages to revel in each other on a monthly basis. Michael, a fastidious salesman, experienced tragedy early in his
Kasa Cotugno
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Billy O'Callaghan has become one of my favorite writers based on the two books of his I've read. As with the short fiction, his novel delves inside his characters, and the present is informed by the past. Although based in Ireland, he has captured the atmosphere of a New York city in midwinter, and given all his characters inner lives that will haunt. ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Read this because of a great review from somewhere. I found it turgid, verbose, redundant, disjointed rumination filled with lines I could not decipher: "Love had, for the first time, revealed its shades of intent." And "...the sentiment, without translation, hung almost shapeless between them, flushed by air of its edges, and so much the better for that." And, "Nights for her are always the worst, lying there while Thomas slumbers, but intentionally adrift to the outermost margins of her side o ...more
Natalie  Johnson
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very easy read and I finished it in one night. The writing is very well done, and as the story went on I began to sympathize with the characters despite my hesitations with this type of story. I usually don't enjoy books about affairs but the author did a wonderful job of helping me understand where these two people were coming from and in the end I was rooting for them. A solid read and I would recommend it to those who enjoy books like On Chesil Beach, and Revolutionary Road in term ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
No doubt this was well written, but to what end?
It didn't grab me in any way. It's my fault, probably, because I knew this wasn't written for me to begin with. I have no doubt that certain readers will arrive at this book and be absolutely awed by everything contained within.

I'm alright, ta.

May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nice work. Not brilliant or beautiful but a pleasant read. The approach to the book needs to be framed though; otherwise the story would seem a bit directionless. This is a more reflective and introspective piece. So if you prefer more action and narration, give it a miss. Centered on a single illicit tryst, not a whole lot happens with the plot. But the writing is fluid and not draggy.

The Affair

Michael and Caitlin are long time lovers. They developed an instant connection at first sight and wer
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the most part I depend on books to hook me from the start, so I almost gave up on this one. The poetic language felt almost ponderous with metaphors on top of adjectives on top of similes on top of adverbs, but I am so grateful I stuck it out. Once I succumbed to the denseness of the writing I fell hard for these two middle aged lovers who meet once a month on Coney Island to spark love and meaning in their lonely (albeit married) lives.

"Forty-eight is no age anymore, not the way it once was
Donna Hines
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
Perhaps the idea of a love affair between two 'married' couples whom are married to different people would interest me if I wasn't the one on the cutting edge of the receiving line. So to all the womanizers this would be a blessing. However, to the wife who was home raising the kids alone to the point of exhaustion while the spouse was sleeping with other married women (yes plural) and getting them pregnant while giving the love kids up for adoption behind wifes back is a sick idea of love. Don' ...more
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Billy O'Callaghan was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1974. His books include the short story collections: ‘In Exile’ (2008, Mercier Press), ‘In Too Deep’ (2008, Mercier Press), and 'The Things We Lose, the Things We Leave Behind' (2013, New Island Books/2017, CITIC Press, China); and a novel: 'The Dead House' (2017, O'Brien Press/Arcade, USA).

His novel, 'My Coney Island Baby', was published in 2019 by

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