The Troubles

The Troubles

Book rating: 05 Paperback Phoenix

By (author) J. G. (James Gordon) Farrell

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Product description

Major Brendan Archer travels to Ireland - to the Majestic Hotel and to the fiancee he acquired on a rash afternoon's leave three years ago. Despite her many letters, the lady herself proves elusive, and the Major's engagement is short-lived. But he is unable to detach himself from the alluring discomforts of the crumbling hotel. Ensconced in the dim and shabby splendour of the Palm Court, surrounded by gently decaying old ladies and proliferating cats, the Major passes the summer. So hypnotic are the faded charms of the Majestic, the Major is almost unaware of the gathering storm. But this is Ireland in 1919 - and the struggle for independence is about to explode with brutal force.

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Author information

J.G. Farrell was born in Liverpool in 1935 and spent a good deal of his life abroad, including periods in France and North America, and then settled in London where he wrote most of his novels. In April 1979 he went to live in County Cork where only four months later he was drowned in a fishing accident.

Customer reviews

By Terence Jessop 20 May 2010 5

Not so much a review; more a song of praise for a memorable book. In a world full of books there are few that I have bothered to read twice, because, once one knows what happens, it is usually hard to derive the same enjoyment from what one is reading for the second time. But when I last read J. G. Farrell's Troubles for the second time some years ago it seemed just as fresh and enjoyable a read. I will never forget the images of the old hotel, the conservatory with its forest of tropical plants bursting through the floor, the flock of elderly female residents and the wonderful dilapidated gardens. If it were a real place, and had not burned down, I would go and stay there in a shot. Whenever I see or read anything about the Irish civil war the image that comes to my mind is that of the major buried up to his neck on the shore with the tide incoming. What a pleasure this book was. For years I have been praising this novel (and its semi sequel The Singapore Grip, which also repaid with pleasure a second read). Praise to Mr. Farrell and regrets that he died so young. What joys his writing would have brought us if he had lived for another thirty years or more. Praise too to the judges of the lost Man Booker Prize for awarding the same to a great book. I think i will just have to read it again.
Terry Jessop, Sydney.

Review quote

It's funny, sad and beautifully written; it's prescient, wise, original and unexpectedly eccentric. Vote JG, I say. Or even better, just read him. -- Rachel Cooke OBSERVER Troubles has everything: great story, compelling characters, believable dialogue and big ideas. It's a book good enough to win the Booker in any year. Not just 1970. -- John Crace GUARDIAN Like Fawlty Towers written by Evelyn Waugh -- Rachel Cooke Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, 2010 'I can't praise this book enough. It's a good rule that reviewers should be forbidden from using the word "genius"...But it's hard to know what else to say when faced with a book like Troubles. There's no avoiding it. JG Farrell was a genius.' -- Sam Jordison GUARDIAN BOOKS BLOG No finer work has ever been written about this transitional period in Irish history: it remains a landmark in 20th-century Irish literature, and one that deserves to win The One And Only Great Retrospective Booker. -- Kevin Myers IRISH INDEPENDENT Troubles stands up at every stage. It has a fine beginning and a brilliant ending, and is sustained throughout by this wit, laughter and intelligence. -- Tobias HIll INDEPENDENT meaty and magnificent'He [Farrell] is a master at controlling pace, and his writing is satisfyingly solid. He is capable of the most vigorous farce, and then he will bring things to the knife edge of tragedy'a fine and fitting winner. -- Philip Womack DAILY TELEGRAPH Poignant, meticulously observed, often hilarious, it is one of the finest novels of the past 50 years. -- Simon Shaw MAIL ON SUNDAY

Editorial reviews

The title to the contrary, the festering troubles between the Sinn Fein and Home Rule will be viewed at some distance, narrowing certainly by the close of the book but reduced throughout to occasional scattershot incidents and rumbling commentary in this little village of Kilnalough. Dominating Mr. Farrell's sad, sometimes funny, and always marvelously particularized novel is the Majestic, once a grand hotel but now sliding imperceptibly toward ruin - prefiguring the collapse of Empire while paralleling Ireland's "vast and narcotic inertia." One wanders endlessly through its gloomy carpeted corridors where the dust has settled on gilt cherubs; a drawing room ceiling falls; a peahen wanders through broken French windows; cats are everywhere and a wretched old dog Rover must be put out of his misery. English, Protestant and intransigent, Edward Spencer. its owner, has a certain grandeur in his crumbling domain and sharing the premises of the book is an English Major who has returned from World War I having come there to marry Spencer's oldest daughter. She retreats wordlessly to her room and dies. For some reason (he's not a very enterprising sort) the Major stays on with the few elderly permanent residents, with the other children, and joylessly and unrewardingly courts another young woman. But the world, the new world, slowly closes in on the Majestic and when it burns to the ground, it can only be a happy release. . . . Farrell has written a novel of considerable substance and character which somehow manages to stay altogether alive in the midst of its desolation. An achievement in itself. (Kirkus Reviews)