A History of Loneliness by John Boyne
A Novel

63%

6 Critic Reviews

There might have been more art in a subtler take on this Irish horror, but Boyne has conveyed well the message most needed, that silence and denial are heinous crimes as well.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

The riveting narrative of an honorable Irish priest who finds the church collapsing around him at a pivotal moment in its history

Propelled into the priesthood by a family tragedy, Odran Yates is full of hope and ambition. When he arrives at Clonliffe Seminary in the 1970s, it is a time in Ireland when priests are highly respected, and Odran believes that he is pledging his life to "the good."
Forty years later, Odran's devotion is caught in revelations that shatter the Irish people's faith in the Catholic Church. He sees his friends stand trial, colleagues jailed, the lives of young parishioners destroyed, and grows nervous of venturing out in public for fear of disapproving stares and insults. At one point, he is even arrested when he takes the hand of a young boy and leads him out of a department store looking for the boy's mother.
But when a family event opens wounds from his past, he is forced to confront the demons that have raged within the church, and to recognize his own complicity in their propagation, within both the institution and his own family.
A novel as intimate as it is universal, A History of Loneliness is about the stories we tell ourselves to make peace with our lives. It confirms Boyne as one of the most searching storytellers of his generation.

 

About John Boyne

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JOHN BOYNE was born in Ireland in 1971 and is the author of six novels for adults. His first novel for children, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, won two Irish Book Awards, was shortlisted for the British Book Award, and has been made into a film. His novels are published in over 30 languages. He lives in Dublin. OLIVER JEFFERS is an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator. His first picture book, How to Catch a Star (HarperCollins) was published in 2004 and since then he has created a further five picture books to much critical acclaim. He has won the Irish Book Award (where he first met John Boyne), the Blue Peter Book of the Year and the Nestlé Children's Book Prize as well as a host of shortlistings including the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal. His books have been translated into 19 languages.


























Author Residence: Dublin OLIVER JEFFERS is an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator. His first picture book, How to Catch a Star (HarperCollins) was published in 2004 and since then he has created a further five picture books to much critical acclaim. He has won the Irish Book Award (where he first met John Boyne), the Blue Peter Book of the Year and the Nestlé Children's Book Prize as well as a host of shortlistings including the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal. His books have been translated into 19 languages. To learn more about him and his work, please visit OliverJeffers.com.
 
Published February 3, 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 353 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for A History of Loneliness
All: 6 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Above average
on Nov 29 2014

There might have been more art in a subtler take on this Irish horror, but Boyne has conveyed well the message most needed, that silence and denial are heinous crimes as well.

Read Full Review of A History of Loneliness: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Helen Dunmore on Oct 03 2014

One section of the novel is set in Rome, and here Boyne loses his sureness of touch. Odran at the heart of the Vatican stretches credibility, but Odran privy to hidden details about the sudden death of John Paul I is a step too far, and it breaks the emotional focus and the tension of the novel.

Read Full Review of A History of Loneliness: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by JP O'Malley on Sep 13 2014

This is the first novel Boyne has set in his native Ireland but it appears in part to have backfired on him: too often the prose descends into cliche.

Read Full Review of A History of Loneliness: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Tara D. Sonenshine on Apr 08 2015

The major strength and weakness of Boyne’s novel is its unrelenting pulse in its depiction of the main character’s self-doubt. That self-doubt often leaves the reader as confused as the character is.

Read Full Review of A History of Loneliness: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Jim Carmin on Feb 07 2015

John Boyne...has written his first novel set in his native country...It is a brilliant work of fiction...Following Father Yates, being so close to him as we learn of the dilemmas he faces, in his personal life and in his role as a priest, causes the reader to be empathetic and a little wary of what our narrator might not be telling us.

Read Full Review of A History of Loneliness: A Novel | See more reviews from Star Tribune

Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by Elizabeth Warkentin on Feb 21 2015

In the hands of a less agile writer, the complex narration of this novel and its passionate denunciation of the Catholic Church would likely have failed. Fortunately for us, Boyne is a master storyteller. When I arrived at the last page, I knew I had just read an instant classic.

Read Full Review of A History of Loneliness: A Novel | See more reviews from Toronto Star

Reader Rating for A History of Loneliness
86%

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