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A Ladder to the Sky

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  24,099 ratings  ·  3,944 reviews
Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn't have is talent - but he's not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don't need to be his own.
Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with ce
Hardcover, 366 pages
Published November 13th 2018 by Hogarth Press (first published August 9th 2018)
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Leanne The US release date is November but the UK one was early August - if you want to read it sooner I would suggest Book Depository (this is what I did) -…moreThe US release date is November but the UK one was early August - if you want to read it sooner I would suggest Book Depository (this is what I did) - free shipping worldwide!(less)

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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  24,099 ratings  ·  3,944 reviews

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Emily May
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary, 2018
Everyone has secrets, I had remarked. There’s something in all our pasts that we wouldn’t want to be revealed.

This book was extraordinary. I can't think of a more appropriate way to put it. It's a story made up of fascinating characters, amusing literary criticism, fantastic dialogue, and moments of such terrifying desperation and horror that I sat staring wide-eyed at my Kindle.

And I wasn't sure about it at first, to be honest. Books about writers, the publishing process and literary critic
chai ♡
I, personally, love reading books and straddling that fine line between “loving the book” and “wishing you could unhinge your jaw and a swarm of locusts fly out of your mouth to attack the book.”

My feelings for this book are still flashing like a flipped coin, end over end—hate love hate love hate love—endlessly combining and recombining in the ceaseless effort at making sense. I feel morally and legally obligated to spread the good gospel about this story, but I don’t want anyone to make the fa
Masterfully manipulative. Cunning. Ingenious. Exceptional.

There are times when the sheer cleverness involved with what I’ve just read requires time to ruminate before some semblance of coherent thought can be strung together. So, here I sit—two months post-read—hoping to express just how impressive I found this creative gem to be. If the fact that this book is still lingering in the forefront of my mind after so long—and a dozen other books in-between—isn’t a testament to John Boyne’s level of
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a story that is as old as time itself, common in our human history and a major source of inspiration for writers, producing great literature, from the likes of Shakespeare to Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley, the unleashing of a ferocious, power hungry ambition, nakedly unfettered, ruthless as it wreaks tragedy and destruction in its wake, doing whatever is deemed necessary to achieve the sought after obsessive dream. After the brilliance of The Heart's Invisible Furies, John Boyne gives us ...more
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley

Meet Maurice Swift whose single purpose in life is to become a famous novelist. Beware: Maurice is a story thief. He will steal your stories, and, in essence, your soul.

Maurice will do whatever it takes to get to the top but he was one major problem standing in his way--he lacks creativity. While he can write, his stories are boring….Ever the resourceful one, Maurice uses his physical beauty and charm to leach onto famous writers, not to learn from them but rather to s
Elyse  Walters
In the same way Vampires hunger for blood, protagonist *Maurice Swift*, hungers for stories. John Boyne has created a literary Vampire! Swift will trade stories for organisms. He’s not wired sexually like most men. He has no desire for sex - with either men or women. Sex is just one of his power tools to achieve his needs: STORIES! Maurice is a writer who can’t for the life of him think of a ‘story’ to write about. Yet - Maurice is driven - obsessed - nothing else matters He studies every review ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-on-books
”I was a good-looking boy and I brought him back to life. I may have taken advantage of his good nature, but why not? I flirted with him, made sure that I remained sexually ambiguous at all times. Always a possibility but never a certainty. I led him on to the point where he was so overwhelmed with desire that I think there was literally nothing he wouldn’t have done for me, had I asked. And then, when I got everything I needed from him, I wrote….”

What’s wrong with that?

Well, a lot, but then th
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne is a 2018 Hogarth Press publication.

“And you’ve heard the old proverb about ambition, haven’t you?” He shook his head. “That it’s like setting a ladder to the sky. A pointless waste of energy.”

Maurice Swift may be one of the most calculating literary characters in recent memory. His goal is to be a great writer, to win the big literary prize. However, he has no imagination of his own. He can’t outline a plot, or create characters, so he uses his good looks and
Will Byrnes
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In evolutionary biology, parasitism is a relationship between species, where one organism, the parasite, lives on or in another organism, the host, causing it some harm, and is adapted structurally to this way of life.[1] The entomologist E. O. Wilson has characterized parasites as "predators that eat prey in units of less than one" - Wikipedia
Well, sometimes a host gets to be an entire feast. Maurice Swift can be plenty charming, and he is quite something to look at, but he has issues with mo
Larry H
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley

When you get ready to read a book by an author whose two previous books wound up at the top of your year-end best lists (and they're truly among some of the best books you've read, at least in the last decade), you get a little nervous whether lightning will strike thrice, or whether you're putting too much pressure on the book. (I am the one who has preached measured expectations when reading new books by favorite authors, because each new book deserves to be weighed on its own merit, not comp
An amazing literary work immersed in ambition, infatuation, betrayal and narcissism. John Boyne skillfully develops a character, Maurice Swift, who has an obsessive ambition to be a famous and accomplished author, with massive commercial and literary glory. The problem is that while he can form sentences with an acceptable level of skill, he possesses no imagination. With this lack of creativity, he cynically hunts and forages for ideas and plots for his novel. The fascination with
Kevin Ansbro
"Ambition is putting a ladder to the sky."
—American proverb

Having fizzed like a seltzer all the way through John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies, I already knew that I will happily read anything by this gifted author. Boyne has a rare gift that so many modern authors lack: the ability to create extraordinary characters who melt our hearts or rattle our cages.
This is a breathtaking story of dangerous infatuation and sociopathic ambition. And, in keeping with Boyne’s default modus operan
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley

John Boyne keeps getting better and better! Each time he writes a book, he tops his last. A ladder to the Sky has done just that. This book is beautifully written, tragic, compelling and hard to put down. Boyne has given me a character that I love to hate. Maurice Swift is so deliciously "amoral". Maurice is willing to do whatever it takes to be a bestselling Author. Armed with his youth and beauty, he sets out to achieve his goals, no looking back, no remorse and feeling justified with hi
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Dark and delectable, Boyne’s latest novel is compulsively readable. Maurice has one consuming desire and that is to be a wildly successful writer. Although he is able to craft sentences, he lacks the other critical element crucial to achieving his goal: imagination. What’s a poor boy to do? Well, he uses his physical beauty and manipulative charm to glom onto those who are in a position to help him. Maurice leapfrogs from person to person as he purloins stories and leaves wreckage in his wake. G ...more
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Literary fiction fans
Recommended to Paula by: Elyse Walters
Irish author John Boyne has written a masterpiece. A Ladder to the Sky is brilliant!

Maurice Swift, is a so-so author who wants to succeed as a writer. It’s his lifetime ambition, and he doesn’t care how he gets there. Beautiful, charming, and ruthless, Maurice can’t come up with his own stories so he steals them. His first victim is Erich Ackermann who has received some literary fame. After using Erich’s personal story and destroying him, Maurice climbs the ladder to the more powerful. Maurice i
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

What a fascinating premise. Maurice is a con and a scammer. He lacks imagination but not ambition. He wants to be a successful writer at all costs.

The book starts with Erich, an aging author, finally finding fame in his sixties. He falls for Maurice, who sees potential in playing to Erich’s infatuation. He steals Erich’s story of himself as a young man in Nazi Germany. And this is not a story that paints Erich in a positive light. Each segment gives us another step in Maurice’s trip up the ladd
Diane S ☔
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Boynes, Hearts Invisible Furies turned out to be my favorite book of last year. In that one he gave me a character I absolutely loved, in this one he does the opposite. Here, he gives us a character one loves to hate, a young man devoid of any redeeming characteristics. Maurice Swift, a man who thinks that anything he does is justified. Nothing is his fault.

Now I am the type of reader who enjoys being given a character who tugs at my heart, someone in which I can hope for, cherish. But....I also
Susanne  Strong
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
4.5 Stars* (rounded down)

Proof Positive that an author can write a novel with a truly despicable main character (and some less than likeable supporting characters) and still write a brilliant novel! All it takes is a fantastic storyteller. John Boyne is that man.

When I read “The Hearts Invisible Furies” last year I fell in love. With both Cyril Avery - the main character, and with John Boyne. Prior to that, I’d only known Boyne through the movie “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.” “A Ladder in th
Angela M
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

What do you do when you have the blind ambition to be a writer and while you can write, you just don’t have a creative idea in you ? If you are the unscrupulous, narcissistic, slime ball named Maurice Swift - you do anything that it takes - steal their stories and their books and ruin their lives. I wasn’t going to read this, but 33 trusted GR friends gave it 5 stars and more than a handful gave it 4 stars so how could I resist? Besides, I really enjoy Boyne’s writing and I loved his la
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Boyne could write a 500 page play-by-play account of the sleeping habits of the maned three-toed sloth that inhabits the Atlantic Forest of Brazil using only words that start with the letter Q and I have no doubt that it would be anything less than a compelling example of literary excellence.

As is the norm in Boyne's stories, this book features a captivating protagonist, this time his name is Maurice Swift, a narcissist and quite possibly a psychopath, as such, he is a man willing to go to
Em Lost In Books
Maurice smiled. 'Stealing is very bad,' he agreed. 'Only really bad people take things that don't belong to you.'

So Maurice was an aspiring writer when he first met the famous author Erich Ackermann. Young, beautiful, and a charm that was hard to ignore, Maurice was aware of all this about himself. Poor old Erich didn't know that he was being until it was too late. Living mostly by himself all his life Ackermann fell hard for Maurice and paid the price. Maurice extracted a dark secret from A
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my 11th grade english teacher instilled the fear of god in me when it came to plagiarism. he hounded us every day that plagiarism is the most horrific sin a person could ever commit. i was absolutely terrified of every essay i submitted; petrified that, by some ill-fated coincidence, my combination of words would resemble someone elses. i had nightmares that i would be thrown in jail or, worse, receive a failing grade. so the fact that this story is about a man who writes novels using other peop ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I've been following John Boyne for some years now, and I always find his novels interesting, I just like the themes and his writing style. A Ladder to the Sky is an absolutely perfect novel since I loved the book and loathed Maurice Swift. How can that be?? I have no idea but not many books have recently generated this combination during my reading experience. Boyne takes us on a tour around the literary world and shows its bitter side. ...more
Grabbed my pogo stick at Part 2 and kept on hopping...

This is so weird. I vigorously hated Part 1, yet I just as vigorously gave the book 5 stars. What’s up with THAT? The book starts with an old writer man lusting over a young writer man who will stop at nothing to get ahead. Scathing conversations, immoral acts, a cynical vibe, just nasty people doing and saying nasty things to each other in the publishing world—it was all just too depressing and dark. I realized, hey, I don’t want to be aroun
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
4 stars!

Maurice - you conniving, selfish scoundrel! Never have I ever been so intrigued by such a nasty and repulsive main character. Wow!

This novel follows Maurice Swift in his rise to fame. We are introduced to Maurice as a handsome young man whose goal in life is to become a famous writer. He will stop at nothing to get ahead, latching on to countless people to use them for all he can get. As the story progresses, we witness just how greedy, manipulative and destructive he can be.

This story
There’s a proverb that says ambition “is like putting a ladder against the sky. It’s a pointless waste of energy."

Told in three parts, this book shows the complete degradation of a person when blind ambition is coupled with psychopathic tendencies. An author must be a keen observer of people and events. They can take a nugget of an idea, then use their imagination to turn it into a story.  But what happens when the only person you are interested in is yourself? When your interest in people is on
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

"I’m going to be the greatest novelist of my generation."

In The Heart's Invisible Furies I couldn’t help but feel affection towards Cyril Avery, quirks and all. He wasn’t perfect by any means, but who is? In this novel, John Boyne has managed to create a character with absolutely no redeeming qualities! Well, okay, Maurice Swift may have been devastatingly handsome, but that is neither here nor there. This guy is the ultimate creep! His single-minded ambition to write and be famous drov
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing, disturbing and mesmerizing! These are the top 3 words that come to mind to describe the ride that is A Ladder to the Sky. The main character, Maurice, is truly a terrible human being yet the story was fascinating and I could barely stop reading, eager to see what his next move would be and how everything would play out.

This was a buddy read with my friend Cody (his review here: As an avid reader, I enjoyed the many elements in the book rela
Oh Yes. Another 5 Star Winner!

Oh the power of beauty....and John Boyne's addictive writing....once again!

Meet Maurice won't forget him! He wants to be a famous author. He's just a young man of 17 when first introduced, but is already hungry for attention and fame from the literary world. AND, oh yeah, he is a downright heart throbbing, mesmerizing beauty of a man....desired by both species....and dam well knows it!

As this bloodsucking worm of a human being manipulates his way thr

Dorie  - Cats&Books :)

I am probably one of the only readers on this site that hasn’t read John Royne before. This was a Traveling Sister read and I thank them for bringing this book to my attention.

This book is about writers, the publishing industry, how different people get their ideas to write a novel,etc, but it revolves steadily around the main character Maurice. We are taken back to 1988 Berlin where an illustrious and recently well published author, Erich Ackermann is eating at a restaurant a
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John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist.

He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he won the Curtis Brown prize. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by UEA.

John Boyne is the author of ten novels for adults and five for young readers, as well as a collection of short stories.

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