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Strange Flowers

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,258 ratings  ·  213 reviews
In 1973 Moll Gladney goes missing from the Tipperary hillside where she was born. Slowly her parents, Paddy and Kit, begin to accept that she’s gone forever. But she returns, changed, and with a few surprises for her family and neighbours.

Nothing is ever the same again for the Gladneys, who learn that fate cares little for duty, that life rarely conforms to expectation, th
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published August 27th 2020 by Doubleday (first published August 20th 2020)
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Malina Yes! After reading it, I feel a student could gain a lot from studying the writing style, plot and distinctive voice used by the characters. It's a go…moreYes! After reading it, I feel a student could gain a lot from studying the writing style, plot and distinctive voice used by the characters. It's a good choice to study. (less)

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Donal Ryan writes a beautifully poetic and lyrical bitter sweet multigenerational family drama set in the small Catholic, rural and idyllic village of Knockagowny, in County Tipperary in Ireland. With a intrinsically timeless feel, it is set in the 1970s, it depicts the limitations of small communities, the gossip, the judgementalism, and the inability to let some of its residents be true to who they are. Ryan writes with intelligence, thoughtfulness, of the universality of what it is to be huma ...more
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The anticipation is thrilling when you start a new Donal Ryan book, and it finishes with a mix of satisfaction and longing. Strange Flowers is a beautifully written multigenerational family drama that treats us to a cast of characters that act through events and scenes that are carefully crafted, with shifting modes of tradition, absorbing relationships, captivating twists, and leaves us fully satisfied. From the uplifting dignity of honourable people, through shocking events, to the
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-30
What a wonderful novel to step into Autumn with. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ All the Stars for this beautifully written story by Donal Ryan. Rich in prose, plot and characters. I didn’t want this one to end but alas it did........

Set in Ireland in the early 70s, young Moll Gladney goes missing from her home in Tipperary, Only daughter to Paddy and Kit, they are distraught at her disappearance and rumours amongst the parish folk take on a life of their own. Paddy and Kit never give up hope and after 5 years Moll
“But still, any man faced in his own yard with a red-faced priest, solemn and black-suited, and a stocky high-chinned sergeant would surely feel his heart pound in his chest as his blood raced and rushed around his body.”

I don’t think it matters who you are, what your circumstances are, or where you live. If you saw these two people headed for your front door, you would be immediately trying to remember who in your family is where. Who’s not well, who’s at risk, who’s on the road? Who haven’
Diane S ☔
May 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
1970s, Knockagowny, in County Tipperary, Ireland, 18 yr. Old Moll walks away from her home. Her parents Paddy and Kit trace her as far as Dublin, but there the sightings end. For five long years they keep the faith, believing their girl will return. Then one day, now 23, Moll come home, but she is far from the same girl who left. She comes with many secrets, surprises and challenges. By books end it will deal with the issues of race, faith, family, love, heartbreak and sexual orientation.

Apr 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ireland, 2020-read
Donal Ryan's writing is stunningly beautiful, the way he conveys complex feelings like shame and regret without ever being exploitative is masterful - but the construction and the pacing of this story do not manage to develop enough immersive force. The novel opens with the disappearence of young Moll Gladney from Tipperary, Ireland (the author's home region) - five years later, Moll suddenly comes back, and it's impossible to give further details without spoiling the plot which in this case ful ...more
Andy Marr
Dec 11, 2020 rated it liked it
It's unusual for a book to make me cry, but this one had me in tears on more than one occasion. It's a sparsely-written study of grief, compassion and - most of all - love. For the most part it read beautifully, but its dealing with the ferocious ethno-politics of 1970s Ireland was lazy and clumsy and - given the many other issues Ryan chooses to deal with - I wonder if it was necessary at all. Largely excellent, but ultimately disappointing. ...more
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Published today 27/08/2020

He remembers then why this story means so much, and he feels his shame and anger retreat a little, enough so that he’s able to tell her that the story was his father’s idea, that they’d been to Mass together one Saturday evening, just the two of them, that his father loved going to Mass though he wasn’t even really a Catholic, that he really listened to the gospel stories because they reminded him of his parents, who knew the gospels forward and back and could quote
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5, rounded up.

This is a hard one to talk about without using spoilers, so I won't go into specifics, but, as with Ryan's two previous Booker nominated novels, I just thoroughly enjoyed his use of language and his evocation of the Irish setting here. This one has a few longueurs, and an interpolated retelling of the Gospel story of the blind beggar whose sight is restored by the Messiah, that I feel didn't QUITE work - but the story constantly surprised me and never went exactly where I was exp
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, fiction
Set in Tipperary, Ireland from the 1970s to present day telling the story of the Gladney family and what happens to them after their daughter, Moll, goes missing for five years, I felt that the novel flowed well between the different narratives, characters and timelines but I finished with the feeling that I hadn't got to know the characters more than beyond a surface level. The 'story within a story' didn't work at all for me either, but, as others have noted, this books excels in the depiction ...more
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
After reading From a Low and Quiet Sea last year and giving it 2 stars, I decided to give Donal Ryan another chance with Strange Flowers. I was wrong.

Let me cut straight to the chase here: the writing in Strange Flowers was unbearable, especially in the first half. It's been a while since I've read a book with such a glaring, painfully distracting problem with its writing. I'll let the words speak for themselves. The following is a ONE SINGULAR SENTENCE from Strange Flowers:
"And Alexander Elmwoo
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Simply beautiful! Love, racism, the Catholic church, forbidden love, loss, grief, childhood: this story has it all! It will keep me busy thinking for a while yet. Great storytelling by Donal Ryan again.
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Beautiful writing here, as I would expect from Donal Ryan. I’ve enjoyed a few of his previous novels and short stories, and much of what I loved before is here in this one. Atmosphere and landscape for sure, and strong characters I engaged with immediately. Paddy and Kit are wonderful creations, accepting that they are where they are and have what they have, happy in their quiet faith. When everything changes in their lives, they accept whatever comes their way - first their daughter’s disappear ...more
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have read all Donal Ryan's books and thoroughly enjoyed them all.
This book is no exception.
This is a beautifully written story with great characters.
There are so many characters that you really like and feel concern for in this story.

Highly recommend.
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Traditional storytelling in the bitter-sweet Irish ballad style: - lyrical prose, a timeless bucolic setting oozing with atmosphere, and unforgettable characters. If this is your taste, Donal Ryan is yer man.
All the usual reasons to enjoy a Donal Ryan story, it starts off well and intriguing, with the strange disappearance of a daughter, which suggested to me immediately that this child had likely grown up keeping her own secret(s).

The novel is constructed in different parts, narrated from the different perspectives of some of the characters, but not all, and those who are not inhabited are notable in their absence.

I experienced discomfort in this, that certain characters and the effect of their pr
Paul Lockman
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-favourites
Such lyrical and evocative writing and a beautifully told story. I just wish it could have been much longer. So glad I have discovered this author and am already looking forward to the next book I read. I am adding this to my 2020 favourites. Highly recommended.
Jonathan Pool

Set in the 1970’s, this a novel about race , about gender, about religion.


This is not a novel to summarise in any detail for fear of spoilers.
Set predominantly in rural Ireland, in Nenagh, County Tipperary between the Arra and Silvermines Mountains, the rural idyll is conveyed beautifully by Donal Ryan. The reader can smell and feel the peatland. Offsetting the traditional, church loving and fearing community is London (Notting Hill and Clerkenwell), the destination for those choo
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Strange Flowers tells the story of Moll Gladney. Mainly set in Ireland, Strange Flowers follows the story of Moll’s disappearance and then her subsequent return. The story is told from multiple viewpoints. Nothing is the same for Moll or her family after her return. The story is full of great and endearing characters. It’s no secret that Donal Ryan is my favourite Irish author and he’s done it again in Strange Flowers. This author can do no wrong! His writing is exceptional, lyrical and beautifu ...more
Jun 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: oz-winter-2021
In 1973, 20-year-old Moll Gladney suddenly leaves her rural Irish home and disappears - her parents, Paddy & Kit, are distraught and don't know what has happened to her or why she left. They don't hear from her for five years until she suddenly reappears....
This is the tale of the family's life as tenants to the Jackman family, of Moll's upbringing and what happened to her during her five-year absence, what caused her to return home, what (and who) she brings with her and how the family adapt to
Jason Coster
Oct 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I finished this book in three days but I’m still unsure as to whether it was because I liked it so much or because I wanted to finish it as soon as possible.. I think it was a mixture between the two.

The book is well written and is an example of good Irish writing, I do not think it is great Irish writing though. It tackles some interesting themes, such as love, loss, racism in Ireland in the 1970s and the struggle to fit in. It deals with them well to a certain extent but I think that in many
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you, Random House Transworld for a widget for a copy of Strange flowers by Donal Ryan.
Set in 1973 in Tipperary Ireland, this is the story of Paddy and Kit Gladney and their daughter Molly in the small town of Nenagh. One day Molly ups and leaves her devasted parents and the small town they live in and not to be seen again for another five years. She returns as she left, in a cloud of mystery. But when Molly returns, she is not the same girl that left. She does not explain what happened whe
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thanks, again, to Fiona Murphy at Penguin Ireland for the proof.
This book is just so beautiful in its gentleness, I can't even describe it.

When Paddy and Kit Gladney's daughter Moll leaves the house one day and doesn't return, they are shattered. Moll had a lovely childhood, and she was cherished and never had reason to run away yet they hear nothing from her until five years later, when she walks back through the front gate. In the days following. the couple learn where Moll has been and what has happened in her life as she's joined by a man and child and t
Callum McLaughlin
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
In 1973, 20-year-old Moll Gladney disappears without warning from her home in rural Ireland, leaving behind her devastated parents and gossip-hungry neighbours. Five years later, Moll returns, but this time she isn’t alone. In little more than 200 pages, Donal Ryan has created a sweeping family saga that chronicles three generations’ worth of secrets and longing, looking at how love can help us overcome even the greatest losses and the most fundamental of differences.

If the book could be distill
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers and Donal Ryan for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I ADORE Donal Ryan's writing and he is one of very few writers that I re-read, so I am really happy to say that Strange Flowers lived up to my hopes and more.

As in previous work, I was pulled helpless into this story of love in its many forms, and was genuinely sad to leave it. The writing is atmospheric with stunning depictions of landscape and scenery, and his tale
Jun 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book. Donal Ryan is brilliant at showing family dynamics in all their guises.
The writing here is second to none, this man wields a mighty pen.
Love, friendship, marriage, loss and so much more is explored in this slim book and once again this author gets 5 well deserved* from me.
Annette Jordan
Strange Flowers is the latest book from Donal Ryan. Set in 1970's rural Ireland it is a multi- generational family story written in a beautifully lyrical style. The book opens in 1973 with the disappearance of Moll, a twenty year old young woman who runs away from home early one morning , leaving behind her devastated and confused parents, Paddy and Kit who are struggling to understand why she would vanish without trace while dealing with the sympathy and curiosity of their neighbours. Five year ...more
Words & Nocturnes
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Strange Flowers took me by surprise. I expected this book to be good, but it was instead good in a way that wrapped itself around my mind and crept into my heart without me expecting it.

This story is told in multiple viewpoints. It is centred around Moll Gladney's disappearance and unexpected reappearance years later. This incident is regarded as the catalyst and the core hook or mystery behind the story. However, this story isn't just Moll's story. Featuring viewpoints from Moll's family and f
Mary Lou
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irish
Kit and Paddy’s daughter left home unannounced one day five years ago and the light has gone from their lives. But there are more complications in the lives of this rural community near Nenagh in County Tipperary than you might imagine.
Donal Ryan’s prose is faultless. A slow, hypnotic, lyrical stream with flashes of intensity and rage, showcasing these sincere characters in their happiness and sorrows. The author’s ability to present a wide array of issues – always with a laugh or a roar or a sc
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Donal Ryan is the author of the novels The Spinning Heart, The Thing About December, the short-story collection A Slanting of the Sun, and the forthcoming novel All We Shall Know. He holds a degree in Law from the University of Limerick, and worked for the National Employment Rights Authority before the success of his first two novels allowed him to pursue writing as a full-time career.

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