Suzy’s Shelf-Talker: “A History of Loneliness,” John Boyne


It is quite a special thing to have books recommended to me with great enthusiasm by friends and colleagues, other lovers of books and writing.

The recommendations for Boyne’s latest book could not be denied and so I began reading with a sense of some anticipation. If you have read the The Boy In Striped Pyjamas you will already be familiar with Boyne’s ability to write seriously hefty moments into his stories. This book has a similar impact and reminds us of the mighty power of an author to throw light on big issues.

In this case the issues are to do with paedophilia, religion, abuse of power, friendship and trust. It  is resolutely an Irish story. I found myself grateful that an author of Boyne’s talents was able to tackle this subject with such courage, non gratuitously and in beautiful prose. I even wondered whether Boyne had some influence (either subtle or overt) on the Irish government’s decision to legalise same sex marriage.

Either way, this is a powerful story about Ireland the Catholic Church which is strangely gentle and deeply angry, and I keep on, keep on thinking about it.

And by the way….

Did you know that John Boyne was in pretty fine company at East Anglia University where he studied Creative Writing? Other graduates from UEA include Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Rose Tremain and Anne Enright.



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