Author(s): John Boyne
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 he grows wary 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 while 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 John Boyne as one of the most searching storytellers of his generation.
This is a beautifully written book tackling a difficult and sensitive topic. Odran Yates enters the priesthood as a seventeen-year-old as this was the path his mother chose for him after a family tragedy. He believed in his vocation and went willingly to the Seminary where he did well, was posted to Rome, and then back to Ireland where he taught happily at a boys’ school for many years immersing himself in the school library. This peaceful existence stopped when he was sent to work as a Parish Priest, taking over from his old friend Tom. Tom, whom Odran sees as being treated unfairly, was a priest who had been constantly moved from parish to parish. Odran’s awaking to the corruption within the church; his dealings with the hierarchy and his slow realisation of his own blindness make painful reading. John Boyne deals with the disruption of Irish life as the church and society changed and, as the priest, once respected and revered, becomes a figure to be reviled. Whatever the opinion of the content of this book, Boyne’s writing is superb and I would highly recommend this book. - Marie
The life of a good priest in Ireland over the past 50 years provokes one of John Boyne's most powerful novels yet
"An urgently compelling story of power, corruption, lies and self-deceits, the damage that happens when we turn our eyes from wrong. Anyone who wants to know what happened in the Irish Catholic Church needs to read this brave, righteously angry and stunning book. Some of us have long wondered what it would be like if a master storyteller turned his powers to this theme. Now we know." -- Joseph O'Connor "John Boyne has plunged into the dark and troubled history of the Catholic Church in our time and come up with a novel to treasure. Unflinching, moving and true" John Banville "The complex architecture of this haunting novel is seamlessly constructed. The path to the priesthood that Odran Yates follows is both understandable and sympathetic. And Father Yates is a good man; he is innocent of the false accusations made against him (he's not a pedophile). But as this author accomplished, so masterfully, in The Absolutist, John Boyne has created a character who holds himself accountable -- in the case of Father Yates, for the sins of others. No writer today handles guilt with as much depth and sadness as John Boyne. As Father Yates takes himself to task for all he didn't do, no less than the sexual duplicity and cover-ups of the Catholic Church are indicted. This is John Boyne's most important novel, and of vital importance to Irish history; it is also a gripping story, one no reader can put down until its devastating ending." -- John Irving "Gripping, harrowing and extremely moving...A painfully page-turning read...A vividly three-dimensional dissection of bothe the priesthood and the larger cultural malaise of Ireland" -- Phil Baker Sunday Times "Beautifully and powerfully written, with an undercurrent of passion, A History of Loneliness is aptly titled. A portrait of one if those individuals we imagine we know -- but have not a clue of his depths." -- Joyce Carol Oates
John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. The winner of two Irish Book Awards, he is the author of seven novels, including the international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which was made into a Miramax feature film and has sold more than five million copies worldwide. His novels are published in over forty languages. He lives in Dublin.www.johnboyne.com