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Coffee and a Book Chick

Sounds like fun and I look forward to reading this!!


It certainly fits the bill for me. I have just finished reading The Siege of Krishnapur. Layer on layer of marvellous writing and characters. A book that will really stick with me. Now I'm really looking forward to Troubles and have the perfect excuse for a purchase. Thank you Cornflower - you've eased my conscience. The tbr pile was preventing me from making that click on Amazon but now I can blame you!


Well you can't just buy one Lost Booker can you? And so Nina Bawden is coming too!


Blame away, Claire, I'm happy to be the culprit! So glad to hear The Siege of Krishnapur has been a great read - that bodes well for Troubles.


The last time I stopped by the bookstore (right before I went on my no book buying diet) this was one of the books I bought--a lovely NYRB edition. Would love to try and read along!

Sarah Bussy

I found 'Troubles' sufficiently compelling to read in its entirety one rainy day in late August but don't agree with most of the critical acclaim it has received.

I couldn't suspend my disbelief about the relentless awfulness of the Majestic and its state of disrepair. I found a lot of the description extremely funny but I couldn't take it seriously; its Gothic horrors summoned up a place somewhere between the Castle of Otranto and Cold Comfort Farm. That anyone was paying to stay in a place which served up food little better than pigswill, that left decaying sheep heads in chamber pots in bedside cupboards and which failed even to put sheets on the Major's bed defies belief, even making due allowance for the fact the story is set in Ireland. After all, these people are Protestant Ascendancy; people of quality.

I see that someone at the 'Guardian' declared,"'Troubles'has everything; great story, compelling characters, believeable dialogue and big ideas.' However, I don't find these characters at all compelling because with the exception of the Major we only see them in one dimension, more or less through the Major's eyes and I think it's true to say that the Major himself, sympathetic character though he is, doesn't really amount to much more than his revealed sensibilities. We're told almost nothing about him. And considering that he's intended to be an archetypal Englishman it strikes me as careless or eccentric to give him the name Brendan. Wouldn't William, Henry or George be more appropriate?

I think most of the characters in the book are presented either as caricatures or as thoroughly unpleasant. The only one I managed to care about was the Major and my care mainly took the form of hoping he wouldn't end up marrying either Angela or Sarah. What on earth is he meant to find attractive in Sarah? She's an utterly offensive tease; a horrible woman.

According to the 'Irish Independent, 'No finer work has ever been written about this transitional period in Irish history.' I don't agree. Elizabeth Bowen's 'The Last Summer' published in 1929 is far superior. Perhaps this is because she was herself Anglo-Irish and wrote out of her own experience. She was also a better novelist.

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