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The Star of the Sea

By Joseph O'Connor

(58)

| Paperback | 9780099469629

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Book Description

Tragedy is a word too often used. Nevertheless, in Star of the Sea Joseph O'Connor manages to achieve a real sense of the tragic, as personal dramas of the most distressing kind play themselves out against the background of the Irish potato fa Continue

Tragedy is a word too often used. Nevertheless, in Star of the Sea Joseph O'Connor manages to achieve a real sense of the tragic, as personal dramas of the most distressing kind play themselves out against the background of the Irish potato famine and the almost equal nightmare of the mass emigration that it caused. As passengers die of starvation and disease in steerage, a drama of adultery, inadvertent incest and inherited disease plays itself out in first class. O'Connor raises, and does not attempt definitively to answer, real questions about responsibility and choice.

Bankrupt aristocrat Meredith is emigrating, pursued by the hatred of his tenants and the memory of his mad-hero father. His children's nurse, Mary, has memories of lost love to torment her, as well as of the husband and child who died of hunger. And the ballad singer Mulvey has both his monstrous past and the certain promise that he will be tortured to death by the Liable Men should he not kill Meredith. This is a kaleidoscopic novel, whose events are seen in many idioms, from many points of view--it is a rich novel that knows that there are limits to the sense that can be made of history. --Roz Kaveney

28 Reviews

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  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Simply too much (and not so original...), but chapter seven is a gem

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    Mauraccia said on Apr 13, 2014 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Vado controcorrente ma questo stile di scrittura non mi e' piaciuto. Bella invece la storia, poco conosciuta

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    mavi said on Mar 27, 2014 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Pure Genius

    This was my first Joseph O'Connor and it did not disappoint. It overwhelmed. What a stunning book that lives up to all the hyped and gushing reviews.

    The Star Of The Sea is a remarkable book that tells a remarkable story in a remarkabl ...(continue)

    This was my first Joseph O'Connor and it did not disappoint. It overwhelmed. What a stunning book that lives up to all the hyped and gushing reviews.

    The Star Of The Sea is a remarkable book that tells a remarkable story in a remarkable way. The Irish Potato Famine is something many people merely have a vague notion about. I did not realize, for one, that there were many famines over the years, not just One Big One. The deprivation, the starvation, and the suffering was prolonged in the most inhumane ways that involved commerce and politics principally. The social divides between the English and the Irish, and indeed between the rich Irish and the poor Irish, enabled one of the most tragic and wrenching disasters in human history. And it spanned decades.

    O'Connor does not dwell on the mechanics of the famine: he tells his story through richly delineated characters who are all stuck on a boat for about a month's voyage from Ireland to America. It is an intensely human story told compellingly. The writing is superb and yet far easier to read than say, John Banville, who writes prose that is in fact sublime poetry. No, O'Connor allows everything to flow from an easy prose, from the trials and tribulations of various characters. While everything takes place on board, there are many chapters devoted to filling in the back story of the various players and how they came to be on the boat. By the end of the novel there are revelations abounding. The ending is shocking and profound and surprising. It manages to pull all the threads together seamlessly, a breathtaking achievement considering what has gone before.

    The mechanism of the novel is also masterfully handled: it is purportedly written by one of the passengers. There is an afterword by the fictitious author that is a whole new ending in itself. In a very real sense, this book has two brilliantly conceived endings: the one of the book called The Star Of The Sea and the one of the fictitious author's surrounding commentary on the book and how he came to write it, and what it ended up meaning in his life.

    This is a blindingly intelligent book. It is written with a command of English prose that beggars description. It is constructed intricately and has a double ending, each of which is brilliant. And it is written in a way that does not require constant recourse to a dictionary and is page turningly gripping. Definitely, this is one the best novels I have ever read in any genre.

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    Ramnagel said on Sep 23, 2013 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Ammetto di essere assolutamente di parte, provando un amore viscerale per l'Irlanda, la musica, la Storia e tutto ciò che le gira attorno. Prima di questo, di O' Connor avevo letto qualche racconto sparso contenuto in altre raccolte. Le premesse sono ...(continue)

    Ammetto di essere assolutamente di parte, provando un amore viscerale per l'Irlanda, la musica, la Storia e tutto ciò che le gira attorno. Prima di questo, di O' Connor avevo letto qualche racconto sparso contenuto in altre raccolte. Le premesse sono ottime: un'ambientazione suggestiva in un periodo importante della Storia d'Irlanda (e indirettamente dell'America). I personaggi vengono introdotti mano a mano, ognuno con la propria storia da raccontare, ognuno col proprio segreto da nascondere. L'intreccio e alcune invenzioni stilistiche rendono la lettura ancora più piacevole. L'unica pecca - a mio avviso - è la piega che prende nel momento cruciale del romanzo, nel punto in cui i numerosi quid dovrebbero essere dipanati. Mi ha dato l'impressione di una conclusione un po' raffazzonata, tirata via..ed è un peccato, perché altrimenti non avrei avuto alcun problema nel dare 5 stelline.

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    Patrick Wild said on Oct 11, 2012 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Grande capolavoro di O'Connor. Racconta la disperata fuga degli Irlandesi dalla loro terra devastata nel 1847 dalla Potato Famine (morirono due milioni di persone) verso l'America, verso New York la città che forse poteva loro offrire una nuova oppor ...(continue)

    Grande capolavoro di O'Connor. Racconta la disperata fuga degli Irlandesi dalla loro terra devastata nel 1847 dalla Potato Famine (morirono due milioni di persone) verso l'America, verso New York la città che forse poteva loro offrire una nuova opportunità. Emigranti disperati di terza classe e viaggiatori di prima classe, tutti però accomunati da segreti,colpe, dolori, speranze.
    Il capitano della nave, mediante il suo Diario di bordo, ci dà notizia degli avvenimenti che accadono a bordo della Stella del Mare, delle condizioni drammatiche della nave, dello stato terribile dei passeggeri di terza classe. Una miriade di voci ci accompagna durante la drammatica traversata raccontando le loro vite, i loro drammi. Scrittura magistrale.Romanzo poetico.

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    Lucia Boncompagno said on Oct 8, 2012 | Add your feedback

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