21 March, 2012

If there's one book you must read... Week #6

Book #6 'The Irish one' -- Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor

Chosen by my Pa, Simon.

What he says: 'It highlights the inhumanity and indiffernce of landlords towards the plight of their Irish tennants and how this in turn led to the enrichment of the American success story; realised through the immigration of the Irish.'

Amazon blurb: 'Tragedy is a word too often used. Nevertheless, in Star of the Sea Joseph O'Connor manages to achieve a real sense of the tragic, as personal dramas of the most distressing kind play themselves out against the background of the Irish potato famine and the almost equal nightmare of the mass emigration that it caused. As passengers die of starvation and disease in steerage, a drama of adultery, inadvertent incest and inherited disease plays itself out in first class. O'Connor raises, and does not attempt definitively to answer, real questions about responsibility and choice.
Bankrupt aristocrat Merridith is emigrating, pursued by the hatred of his tenants and the memory of his mad-hero father. His children's nurse, Mary, has memories of lost love to torment her, as well as of the husband and child who died of hunger. And the ballad singer Mulvey has both his monstrous past and the certain promise that he will be tortured to death by the Liable Men should he not kill Merridith. This is a kaleidoscopic novel, whose events are seen in many idioms, from many points of view--it is a rich novel that knows that there are limits to the sense that can be made of history. -- Roz Kaveney' [character name 'Meredith' [sic] changed to 'Merridith' by MYSTRINGALING]

Me: Having read this novel very recently, I can agree with both the Amazon blurb and my Dad's comments. I also think it's important to note that this novel is a Neo-Victorian piece, reading as if it had been written in 1847, the year in which it is set. The novel was in fact written in 2002 and has received acclaim across the world, also featuring in Richard and Judy's Channel 4 Book Club. The whole piece is a work of art, made up of several narratives, utilising many literary forms (e.g. letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings, real-life accounts and ballads). If you read none of the other 'One book you must read' books, please read this one :)

Have you read it already? What were your thoughts on the plot and structure?

Tell me your 'must read' book on twitter.


Buy from Amazon.

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