A History of Loneliness: A Novel

A History of Loneliness: A Novel

by John Boyne


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The riveting narrative of an honorable Irish priest who finds the church collapsing around him at a pivotal moment in its history

Propelled into the priesthood by a family tragedy, Odran Yates is full of hope and ambition. When he arrives at Clonliffe Seminary in the 1970s, it is a time in Ireland when priests are highly respected, and Odran believes that he is pledging his life to "the good."

Forty years later, Odran's devotion is caught in revelations that shatter the Irish people's faith in the Catholic Church. He sees his friends stand trial, colleagues jailed, the lives of young parishioners destroyed, and grows nervous of venturing out in public for fear of disapproving stares and insults. At one point, he is even arrested when he takes the hand of a young boy and leads him out of a department store looking for the boy's mother.

But when a family event opens wounds from his past, he is forced to confront the demons that have raged within the church, and to recognize his own complicity in their propagation, within both the institution and his own family.

A novel as intimate as it is universal, A History of Loneliness is about the stories we tell ourselves to make peace with our lives. It confirms Boyne as one of the most searching storytellers of his generation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250094643
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 05/10/2016
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 126,160
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

John Boyne is the author of Crippen, The Thief of Time, Next of Kin, and the New York Timesand internationally bestselling The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Boyne won two Irish Book Awards (the People’s Choice and the Children’s) for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which was made into a Miramax feature film, and his novels have been translated into more than thirty languages. Ireland's Sunday Business Post named him one of the forty people under forty in Ireland "likely to be the movers and shakers who will define the country's culture, politics, style and economics in 2005 and beyond." Crippen was nominated for the Sunday Independent Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Award. He lives with his partner in Dublin.

Reading Group Guide

Acclaimed for his stirring storytelling and keen perceptions of human nature, the novelist John Boyne now explores the turbulent cultural shifts that have marked Irish Catholicism in recent decades. Told from the point of view of Odran Yates, an ambitious young man who enters the seminary in the 1970s, A History of Loneliness traces the journey of the Yates family and the church itself through pivotal events. Haunted by the deaths of his father and younger brother, Odran searches for fulfillment in a world of conflicting demands. While his mother turns to religious zealotry, his sister marries outside their culture. Rather than providing him with stability, Odran's chosen path ultimately leads him to the church scandals that have shattered the trust of even the most faithful. While he watches his friends and colleagues face accusations, Odran himself becomes scorned and scrutinized by a disapproving public.

Raising provocative questions about the nature of guilt and the stories we tell ourselves to make peace with ourselves, A History of Loneliness confirms Boyne as one of the most compelling literary voices of his generation. We hope that the following guide will enrich your exploration of this powerful novel.

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