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My Coney Island Baby

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  76 ratings  ·  32 reviews
An exquisite, heart-breaking novel by an Irish discovery.

Radiant with beauty, longing, and desire, and deeply touching, this literary novel, reminiscent of the works of William Trevor and Colm Tóibín, evokes the long love affair between a man and a woman, each married to another, who meet every month in a decaying hotel in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

On a bitterly cold winter’s
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Harper (first published January 17th 2019)
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  76 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Angela M
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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, in a thousand trees.

Billy O’Callaghan is a red bird,
singing in the trees around my home.
The circumstances of this story are slightly different from my own,
but his mellifluous melody is truer than any I can tunelessly cry.

Image: Red bird (cardinal), by

I knew when I finished the second chapter (about a berea
Elyse Walters
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 metastasis are not encouraging.

Years ago, Michael and Barb lost their 14-week old baby boy named James Matthew. Their loss was so devastating- it change
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
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 brewi
’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 conver
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 18, 2018 added it
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
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 08, 2019 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
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.
Wendy Cosin
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 deep
Natalie  Johnson
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This author certainly has a way with words. I noticed throughout the book that I was enjoying his style and use of words. The book takes place in one days time but events from the past are brought up in memories. I did enjoy reading the book. Not sure this is the ending I would have written (nor chosen) but it brought a conclusion.
Jessica Owen
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I was hesitant about this book because I’m definitely not in favor of affairs. The author made you feel connected to the characters so you almost forgave them or understood their reasons for the affair. It was heartbreaking. I felt sad during a lot of it. It took me a long time to get into it. It seemed like some of the writing was too descriptive and unnecessary at points, making it hard for me to work through with a 3 year old bouncing around me (maybe the real problem). That same descriptive ...more
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
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For nearly 25 years Michael and Caitlin, now in their mid 40s, have been lovers. The two are each married but, once a month, on a Tuesday, they escape the emptiness within their marriages and, continue to carry on an intense affair at a little motel on Coney Island. On this particular Tuesday, something is different as each is faced with a difficult situation that could mean the end of their days together.

The is a quiet novel, fairly short and plays out over the course of one day. The story reve
Sarah Beth
I received an uncorrected proof copy of this novel from HarperCollins.

This novel follows lovers Michael and Caitlin through an illicit day spent together on Coney Island together. Both married to others, the pair have spent years sustaining their love for each other through one day spent together each month. Seeking escape from a biting wind inside a dingy hotel, the two lovers are forced to confront the reality that they both are aging, as well as impending changes: Michael's wife is seriously
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is set in one day, when a couple having an affair meet for their once a month rendezvous in Coney Island. Written in the most beautiful language, descriptions of feelings, sights, events left me in awe of his command of English. O Callaghan is a wordsmith!! The chapter about grief on losing a baby was enough to bring me to tears and how different people cope with grief was explored. At times, however, the book was overkill and almost pedantic in its descriptions of simple things like ta ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
Michael and Caitlin are a couple at Coney Island on a cold, snowy day. They are comfortable and affectionate yet we can sense there is a spectre between them. To escape the cold they enter a hotel room; “the room is clean and plain but determinedly sterile, with all trace of romance having been surgically removed, the sort of room suited to women on the run, and traveling salesmen, and those who wish to hide for a while without being found...The room, he decides will be sufficient for their need ...more
Jessica Rickert
The author has a way with using wonderfully descriptive words but this was hard for me to get into and finish. The story was of two middle age adults in an affair trying to figure out what the future holds for them. I did like the way the story played out but a little to boring to hold my attention for long.

I won this book on the Good reads giveaways.
Caroline Barron_Author
Here's the link to my Otago Daily Times review of this fantastic book:

Kathleen Gray
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A slim but entirely satisfying novel of two people who have had a long, secret relationship that's about to change. Caitlin and Michael met by chance 25 years ago- he was mourning the loss of his son and she was there at the bar. They've met once a month since. Don't judge them, understand that this is an unusual and special bond that's about to hit a speed bump. Michael's wife has a serious cancer and Caitlin's husband has received a job offer that will force a move. How do they cope with this? ...more
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I usually dislike stories of infidelity but Billy O’Callaghan’s prose is sheer poetry.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-publisher
“People in love, or in what they might in their own delusional state consider to be love, tend to live their lives with others rather than themselves in mind. And that makes all the difference.”

MY CONEY ISLAND BABY (out 4/9 from @harperbooks #partner) is a gut-wrenching love story. It’s all kinds of effed up—a man and woman share a monthly tryst for a quarter century, despite being married to other people, and more I won’t go into here to avoid spoilers—and really, at its core, an achingly poign
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a poignant story about two lovers, both of whom are married to others, who share a bond that is sustained by spending one day together each month. While one might hear the premise of this book and think "gosh, why would I want to read a book about two people having an affair", an arguably "immoral" act, this book is much more. It's a deeper look at marriage, aging, and the choices we make and is actually, a beautiful and gut-wrenching love story. Not for everyone, since it doesn't have m ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Jan 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was good, but I was not thrilled with the subject. Affairs inside a marriage are just not my cup of tea. I thought I would not like it at all, but the author did a good job writing this story. I knew going in that this type of book was not my usual kind of book, but wanted to read it. I try to branch out with different subject matter.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A deeply moving story and beautifully written. Some of the sentences are breathtaking.
Donna Foster
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review
An ongoing and meaningful love connection that has lasted for 25 years.
Diane Plummer
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Just like all the books I've read from Goodness.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
DNF @40 %

It's really hard-going, and while the prose is excellent n places, it's also repetitive, feeling padded rather than giving added depth to the narrative.
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Billy O'Callaghan was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1974. He is the author of three 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); and a novel, 'The Dead House' (2017, Brandon/O'Brien Press, Ireland, and 2018, Arcade/Skyhorse, USA).

His new novel, 'My Coney Island Baby', is f