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Quinn's Book

(The Albany Cycle #4)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  434 ratings  ·  33 reviews
"Kennedy writes with verve and nerve. His wit, always sharp, has rarely been sharper. He paints a full and lively canvas... Quinn's Book casts a lovely light, indeed." -- Stephen King

From the moment he rescues the beautiful, passionate Maud Fallon from the icy waters of the Hudson one wintry day in 1849, Daniel Quinn, a twelve-year-old orphan, is thrust into a bewildering,
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 6th 1989 by Penguin Books (first published 1988)
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3.74  · 
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 ·  434 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lacpl-ebook

“But I did begin to see that violence was the norm of this bellicose world.” (Kindle Locations 711-712).

Liked it. Didn’t love it. Time, place and characters all engaging; none compelling. My favorite passage (Kindle Locations 3375-3460) was Quinn’s speech sharing the war’s reality of the Civil War—when it wasn’t the popular or patriotic thing to do.

Recommendation: Of some historical significance. Worth reading.

“…where lay a generation of blasted sons: seven thousand dead in
This is the first William Kennedy novel I have read in my adult life. It's labeled as 4th in the Albany Cycle series, but from what I understand the connection to the series is in location, rather than characters and storyline. Please don't let it stop you from reading it as a stand-alone novel. I did and I enjoyed it very much. William Kennedy is an exceptional writer.

This book is exactly what it purports to be - It is Daniel Quinn's story. It's been a little while since I've read such a charac
Bonnye Reed
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
GNab I received a free electronic copy of this novel, originally published by Penguin in 1989, from Netgalley, William Kennedy, and Open Road Integrated Media in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all, for sharing your hard work with me.

This is the first I have read by William Kennedy. I will have to get his first four Albany books! Kennedy's style is similar to that of Richard Sullivan whom I adore.

This is an excellent historical set in New York State - Albany and Saratoga between 1849 a
Tim Velegol
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've now read all 6 of Kennedy's Albany novels and declare him one of America's top 5 novelists of all time. Quinn's Book, Legs, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, Ironweed, Very Old Bones, and The Flaming Corsage comprise a set of vivid, violent, and voluptuous stories that capture a time and place every bit as effectively - and stimulatingly - as Faulkner's legendary and slightly superior tales of Yoknapatawpha County. His experimenting with magical realism doesn't go too far astray and his paintin ...more
A long time ago I read William Kennedy’s Ironweed, and loved it. Like that novel, and a number of Kennedy’s other books, Quinn’s Book is set in the author’s hometown of Albany, New York, though here the century is the 19th, roughly a half dozen decades prior to the time-frame of Ironweed and its sequels. Right from the get-go the period-pastiche language is rich, elaborate, convincing, and slyly fun. A sprawling Dickensian tale set against potent historical backdrops, including the Underground R ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Krizia Anna
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: william-kennedy
"Quinn's Book" reminds me of Isabelle Allende's "House of the Spirits". Kennedy uses magic realism in his novel but it was more historical, more realism than magic. Just the right amount of magic for me. It was full of unforgettable characters that you would definitely love and I bet not relate too. The summary at the back was not wrong in saying that this book has full of Darwinian characters. I love love Daniel Quinn and I love how his love for Maud evolves. This is definitely a great love sto ...more
Elizabeth Du
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The finish date is for my sixth or seventh reading of Quinn’s Book, one of my favorite books of all time and my favorite of Kennedy’s books. It has everything I seek in a book: memorable characters, totally unpredictable action enhanced with just enough magical realism to keep things interesting, drenched in Irishness ( my maiden name was Jamison) and writing so delicious that you read sentences aloud when you are alone for the pleasure of the hearing the wording. This book along with Ann Patche ...more
Roger Suters
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was the current selection by the book club I participate in. Having plowed through Ironweed thirty years ago, with little acquired appreciation of outstanding writing at that time, I started reading Quinn's Book with trepidation. Much to my delight, I could not put it down. William Kennedy is masterful with character development, inventive with plot creation - the use of multiple voices during the course of narration, and brilliant in creating the full range of emotions surrounding tragedy ...more
Lois Bouchard
This book is wild and crazy. It doesn't really have a plot and doesn't really have an ending. It gives the reader a painful glimpse into just pre-civil war and during the civil war in the U. S. but, mainly, in New York City and Albany, New York. The characters are fantastical, but that was actually ok. That also gives the reader a glimpse of who the most vibrant characters in society were at the time. I guess I mainly objected to the lack of focus as the book progressed.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I never read of William Kennedy's books, but I found this book quite interesting to read. This book tells the story of the orphaned Daniel Quinn. It has a love story mixed with historical fiction. The characters are unforgettable and the story included elements of magic realism makes this book more interesting and unique.

I receive this from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This revived my interest in New York and New England history! It was totally engaging and a pleasure to discover there are other books in this series! I will be looking for them to purchase as I enjoyed the characters and the time line.
I received a Kindle ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an electronic copy of this book and thank NetGalley and Open Road Integrated Media.

William Kennedy's book about Daniel Quinn employs more words than I thought existed. I loved the words, I loved the characters and their travels, I loved the setting . The touch of mysticism, cynicism, phantasmagoria, were all whipped cream on the top of a great story. What an adventure, what an interesting way to be introduced to Albany in 1849. There is no question that I will explore Kennedy's other
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first of william kennedy's masterpiece i have ever encountered, and i loved it a lot!
The story was clever, humorous, mystical, a bit silly sometimes, but nevertheless captivating. I definitely love the whole magical realism that was combined with love story and adventure. Daniel Quinn himself is a quite character, simply became the most standout personality inside the book.
Initially i thought it was quite a weird story that i found mostly rather comical. I mean, resurrected from death by s
David Guy
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Quinn's Book is the last of the Albany novels I hadn't read, before the new one that just came out. My impression is that it came after Ironweed. It is an odd addition to the corpus, a kind of 19th century novel (in tone and diction) which nevertheless included elements of magic realism, including a scene early in the novel in which a woman who has died is brought back to life by an act of sexual intercourse. A writer who begins a novel that way has a lot of nerve and confidence in his abilities ...more
Oct 27, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, own
Combining elements of picaresque, bildungsroman, and magical realism, this novel tells the story of the orphaned Daniel Quinn, from 1849 Albany to 1864 Saratoga, as he falls in love with the elusive Maud and has a series of odd, often violent adventures. Quirkiness abounds. Early on, the corpse of a drowned courtesan (Maud's aunt and chaperone), lying atop a catafalque in an Albany parlor, is mounted by a determined necrophile (Daniel's boss). His passionate thrusting creates enough friction to ...more
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Kennedy is probably one of America's finest authors, and yet is probably one of the lesser known. This tale of a young man finding his way to manhood (in almost Horatio Algerish manner) in mid-nineteenth century New York ( and his associations with people in theater and journalism) is wonderful and beautifully written. Some will be shocked by details, but I feel that Kennedy very well describes the many unusual aspects of life at this time, from interest in seances to abolitionism to the fluid e ...more
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book represents a big departure stylistically from William Kennedy's Albany Trilogy, though of course that city remains inextricably tied to the story. There were occult elements to this novel that were a little off-putting to me, but I'd class it as a good example of historical novel writing that is comedic, dark and almost winking at modern sensibilities. To me, the classic of the genre is John Barth's The Sot-Weed Factor.
James Lundy
Mar 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who read the other Albany cycle books and wants to scrape the barrel
William Kennedy is one of those "important" writers and I approach one of his books with my mind on high alert for deepness. Maybe this isn't his greatest book, maybe I'm just not as interested in the 2nd half of the 19th century as I am in the depression-era Albany cycle, maybe you can finely craft the mechanics of a story and still miss the target. I am just left feeling nothing about this book.
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This isn't so much a review as it is an update, but it has been several months since finishing "Quinn's Book," and I still think of it fondly. I definitely recommend this novel to people who enjoy magical realism-type situations!
Funny, strange, lyrical. Irish.
Mar 19, 2015 marked it as tbr-own-yet-to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Found it in the bookcase full of take-and-pay-what-you-want books at my local library branch. Yay, Humboldt County Library!
Oct 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: serious literary readers
Recommended to Franchesca by: our highschool library
I read this back in highschool (and therefore had no any schooling on reading "such books) and found it a weird book. This book is the type that needs to be read twice, I think.
Andrew Sparke
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
William Kennedy can do no wrong! Different style to Ironweed or Legs but stunning visualisation of a city, a time and it's characters.
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
As a former resident of Albany, NY, I always like William Kennedy's novels situated in the Albany area. Not just great fiction, but also interesting history.
Most "professional" reviews I have read on this book were unfavorable. This is my favorite WK book.
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Albany Cycle books just keep getting better!
Aug 02, 2009 rated it liked it
see previous comments on Kennedy.
David Roth
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love this book and have read it multiple times. The opening chapter is brilliant. My favorite Kennedy.
Jul 09, 2017 marked it as to-read
Daniel Quinn, a Civil War correspondent, recalls his adolescence in Albany and his 15-year-old pursuit of Maud Fallon, an actress famous for her nude interrelations of characters from Keats and Shelley.
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William Joseph Kennedy is an American writer and journalist born and raised in Albany, New York. Many of his novels feature the interaction of members of the fictional Irish-American Phelan family, and make use of incidents of Albany's history and the supernatural.

Kennedy's works include The Ink Truck (1969), Legs (1975), Billy Phelan's Greatest Game (1978), Ironweed (1983, winner of 1984 Pulitze

Other books in the series

The Albany Cycle (8 books)
  • Legs
  • Billy Phelan's Greatest Game
  • Ironweed
  • Very Old Bones
  • The Flaming Corsage
  • Roscoe
  • Changó's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes
“In the years after the death of Petrus, Hillegond had refused all offers of marriage, certain that her knowledge of men, despite her uncountable intimate encounters with them, was seriously bescrewed. Further, she grew certain from a recurring nightmare that should she ever consider a man as a second spouse, he would strangle her in her bed with a ligature.” 1 likes
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