Troubles (New York Review Books Classics Series)

Troubles (New York Review Books Classics Series)

4.2 7
by J. G. Farrell, John Banville
     
 

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Winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize

1919: After surviving the Great War, Major Brendan Archer makes his way to Ireland, hoping to discover whether he is indeed betrothed to Angela Spencer, whose Anglo-Irish family owns the once-aptly-named Majestic Hotel in Kilnalough. But his fiancée is strangely altered and her family's fortunes have suffered a

Overview

Winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize

1919: After surviving the Great War, Major Brendan Archer makes his way to Ireland, hoping to discover whether he is indeed betrothed to Angela Spencer, whose Anglo-Irish family owns the once-aptly-named Majestic Hotel in Kilnalough. But his fiancée is strangely altered and her family's fortunes have suffered a spectacular decline. The hotel's hundreds of rooms are disintegrating on a grand scale; its few remaining guests thrive on rumors and games of whist; herds of cats have taken over the Imperial Bar and the upper stories; bamboo shoots threaten the foundations; and piglets frolic in the squash court. Meanwhile, the Major is captivated by the beautiful and bitter Sarah Devlin. As housekeeping disasters force him from room to room, outside the order of the British Empire also totters: there is unrest in the East, and in Ireland itself the mounting violence of "the troubles."
 
Troubles is a hilarious and heartbreaking work by a modern master of the historical novel.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Remarkable … Mr. Farrell deserves high praise for this novel. It is subtly modulated, richly textured, sad, funny, and altogether memorable.
— Times Literary Supplement

A tour de force … sad, tragic, also very funny.
— The Guardian

Farrell wrote superbly; all his books had a quality that hallmarks great literary talent—he could “do” texture. This album—which is what Troubles feels like—records the same Anglo-Irish as Elizabeth Bowen knew and belonged to. As with Bowen, this feels like the real thing (which is all a novel has to do). Always judge a writer by his grasp of what he doesn’t know: Farrell died young yet his old people are almost his best creations.
— Frank Delaney, The Guardian

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590170182
Publisher:
New York Review Books
Publication date:
10/28/2002
Series:
NYRB Classics Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
459
Sales rank:
554,853
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.96(d)

Meet the Author

J.G.Farrell (1935–1979) was born with a caul, long considered a sign of good fortune. Academically and athletically gifted, Farrell grew up in England and Ireland. In 1956, during his first term at Oxford, he suffered what seemed a minor injury on the rugby pitch. Within days, however, he was diagnosed with polio, which nearly killed him and left him permanently weakened. Farrell’s early novels, which include The Lung and A Girl in the Head,have been overshadowed by his Empire Trilogy—Troubles, the Booker Prize–winning Siege of Krishnapur, and The Singapore Grip (all three are published by NYRB Classics). In early 1979, Farrell bought a farmhouse in Bantry Bay on the Irish coast. “I’ve been trying to write,” he admitted, “but there are so many competing interests–?the prime one at the moment is fishing off the rocks… . Then a colony of bees has come to live above my back door and I’m thinking of turning them into my feudal retainers.” On August 11, Farrell was hit by a wave while fishing and was washed out to sea. His body was found a month later. A biography of J.G. Farrell, J.G. Farrell: The Making of a Writerby Lavinia Greacen, was published by Bloomsbury in 1999.

John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of many novels, including The Book of EvidenceThe Untouchable, and Eclipse. Banville’s novel The Sea was awarded the 2005 Man Booker Prize. On occasion he writes under the pen name Benjamin Black.

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Troubles 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book haunts. I first read it 20 years ago and found that I had to read it again. Our hapless hero won my sympathy still, but I found his plight in that shambles of house even funnier the second time round. There was a Saki quality to it all and I never wanted it to end.
CR-Buell More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in Farrell's Empire Trilogy (though the books don't have to be read in order, since the only connection between them is thematic), which explores the decline of the British Empire. Troubles is set in 1919 Ireland, the year of the Irish War of Independence, and attempts to explore the volatile issues which drove the times, though hardly touching directly on the war itself (no live I.R.A or Sinn Fein member ever appears 'on screen'). Through humor and metaphor Farrell tackles the larger picture, while through the direct narrative he deals with the individual lives affected. And it is these characters who give this novel its life. You have Major Archer, fresh from the trenches of France, who's come to the Majestic Hotel in Ireland to see if he's still engaged to a woman he can hardly remember. The Major is struggling to come to terms with a post WWI world, and is caught between his upbringing in the clearly defined moral and social codes of a pre-war British Empire, and the new reality of a changing world. This is most apparent in the Major's vacillation between a pro-Unionist stance, where he feels his loyalties should lie, and his sympathies toward the Irish people, who he clearly sees are oppressed. Then you have Edward Spencer, owner of the Majestic, a staunch Unionist who no longer even sees the Irish people as humans. Edward feels strongly that the Irish stabbed the English in the back by rebelling in 1916 while, as he puts it, Englishmen where dying in the trenches of France to "protect Ireland from the Kaiser". It doesn't matter to him that, as one character points out, tens of thousands of Irish Catholics were also dying in those trenches. Nor does it ever don on him to question, as another character points out, why the Irish should care which foreign invader ruled them. Then there's Sarah Devlin, a young Irish woman, who seems caught between her Republican ideals and her desire to be a part of the Anglo-Irish "quality". The guilt of her enchantment with the culture of the "enemy" leads her to continually sabotage her own life, and unfortunately hurt others in the bargain. Alongside these three we have a gaggle of old ladies, permanent guests at the Majestic; Murphy, the Irish manservant who is slowly becoming dangerously unhinged; and a herd of half-wild cats, who've taken over the upper stories of the hotel. Presiding over all is the once grand Majestic Hotel, now rapidly and spectacularly declining. A note on the NYRB edition: This edition contains an introduction by John Banville. The introduction contains some spoilers, so you might want to hold off reading it until after you've finished the novel.
Wicklowman More than 1 year ago
Wonderful to discover this brilliant writer. His observations of the sordid violence and clueless governance of Ireland in the 1920s as seen from the decaying Majestic Hotel are endlessly fascinating. With a cast of characters both eccentric and tragic, events unfold, or should I say, implode, with a dark and often hilarious inevitability.
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