John Boyne - A History of Loneliness (4 stars)

Strong, emotive work exploring child abuse in the Church

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*4john Boyne

This latest offering from The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas author John Boyne deals with revelations of child abuse in the Church. It’s a powerful meditation on a deeply distressing issue from which his audience is not censored.

As the narrative darts between Odran Yates’ childhood and priesthood, the problems the plot confronts are initially domestic. The challenged priest struggles to marry everyday life in Ireland with his own social, familial and professional responsibilities. Yet, underneath the surface, there are hints and suggestions as to a darker truth surrounding his friends and colleagues, which quickly presents itself as the central conflict in the novel.

Time periods blow back and forth quickly, as incidents of stalking, suicide and sexual abuse traumatically punctuate the unstable recollection of Odran’s life that Boyne pieces together. Yet the fractured narrative drives home the true impact of the crimes in question, leaving behind a harrowing sense of instability which resonates long after reading. Though it may be an uncomfortable read, this is a strong, emotive work that will impact greatly on its audience.

Out Thu 4 Sep.

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