Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A History of Loneliness by John Boyne

A History of LonelinessA History of Loneliness by John Boyne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. Odran is a priest in Ireland (not my usual read, huh?) and the book moves slowly. But you know it's building to SOMETHING. The abuse scandal is waiting and lurking in the background, and Odran's life is touched by it, even if he refused to notice. Each chapter is told from a different year--drove me nuts at first because there's no rhyme or reason to it--2001, 2006, 1964, 1980, 1972, etc. Father Odran tells us about his first experience with a girl, his experiences with his local priest, and his early entrance to the seminary. As a young priest at the Vatican, he represents Ireland in a special role with the pope, but he also becomes infatuated (obsessed?)with a beautiful Italian woman. I found the inner turmoil fascinating--does he stay a priest? Does the temptation to touch her make him normal? or not?

As Odran gets close to retirement, the Irish church is going up in flames with stories of abuse and the higher-ups who covered everything up. Odran's guilt is real, as well as his need to be forgiven and to make amends. He never did anything wrong, did he? Or did he by staying silent?

I've read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and enjoyed it, but I felt this book was much better written. Perhaps because it's told from the point-of-view of a well-educated priest? His phrasing is beautiful--I might have to listen to this on audio just to hear the Irish accent.

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