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Birchwood (2007)

Birchwood (2007)

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3.76 of 5 Votes: 2
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030727912X (ISBN13: 9780307279125)

About book Birchwood (2007)

Birchwood by John Banville is a lovely book that gets off to a ponderous, pretentious start. First line? “I am, therefore I think.” The second paragraph starts with “The name is Godkin, Gabriel.” The book came out in 1973 when Banville was under twenty so I’ll forgive him such pretensions, but the first few chapters are overwrought reminiscences that foreshadow all the events of the story set in Ireland. The people he describes as mad are not very mad by literary standards, but the story builds to a grimly devastating ending. The inclusion of spontaneous combustion dates the tale, since this was a popular topic back in the early 1970s. The first section drags, populated as it is with stereotypes from fading aristocracy, but the story takes off in Part II, “Air and Angels”, is alive with interesting characters and a circus. Irish politics and famine transport this from the expected runaway tale into something darker. The end brings us tidily back to the beginning.Gorgeous language fills the book. Listen to the lovely rhythms of this sentence from page 106 “His splendid scowl never faltered though the whirling rings got tangled on his wrists and the Indian clubs cracked together like skulls, and his hot eyes only burned more fiercely the more hopelessly his act went askew.” I recommend this book if you are in the mood for a literary read. Be patient with the beginning and the rest will reward you.

No one writes more beautifully than Banville, who is a master of the elegiac prose poem. If this sample hits home for you, you'll love this book:“We climbed the steps, into the hall, and Mama, pressing a hand to her forehead, dropped a bunch of primroses on a chair and swept away to her room. The cluster of bruised flowers came slowly asunder, one fell, another, and then half of them tumbled in a flurry to the carpet, and behind me the tall clock creaked and clicked, and struck a sonorous bronze chord. Listen, listen, if I know my world, which is doubtful, but if I do, I know it is chaotic, mean and vicious, with laws cast in the wrong moulds, a fair conception gone awry, in short an awful place, and yet, and yet a place capable of glory in those rare moments when a little light breaks forth, and something is not explained, not forgiven, but merely illuminated.”The only reason I didn't give it five stars was that I found some elements of the story just a bit too bizarre and too tidily wrapped up.

Do You like book Birchwood (2007)?

Birchwood is Banville at his best. It is a book about a man who comes home after being away for many years. The estate is run down and the place is filled with eccentric souls in strange situations. His grandmother is insane, his mother unhappy, and his father always treated him badly. The story is interesting, humorous, and once again, told in Banville's inimitable eloquent style. The description of the house and characters is incredible. The plot is well thought out and credible. In a way, Birchwood is a reminder of all families, I would think. Don't we all have a nutcase or two running around at family reunions? And, of course, there is the uncle locked in the cellar. Birchwood is an enjoyable read. I read it again after I'd completed reading it. I highly recommend it. (Of course, I like Banville. I wish I could write like him.)
—James Wharton

Written by the now eminent John Banville in 1973.Set around the 1840's, referencing the Great Famine and the British Occupation, Banville's novel centre's around the decline of a family in the "big house" caused by the madness, in-fighting and ineptitude of it's inhabitants.As has now become his trademark, the literature is well crafted prose with John Banville displaying his awesome talent for creating interestingly and richly descriptive off-beat characters, no matter what the genre. I look forward to exploring more of the work of Ireland's probably most revered living author of modern English literature.
—Steve Petherbridge

John Banville one of the best novels writer and I think I could not read his novels in a hurry, and he wrote this novel in his twenties from 1973 with his poetic and careful chosen phrases . Firstly, I was think about "what does the title mean"; birch-wood or (birch tree) means slender fast growing tree that has thin bark and bears catkins.He has put that name on an estate in Ireland.Gabriel Godkin in the story is a man who returned to his disintegrating family and the reality of his family and his country and within enlarge flash back, and he is striving with his cold father and crazy mother and grandmother. All moving side to side on the edges of an extreme foolishness and shows that Gabriel acknowledges runs in his blood. In the main time, the famine potato led Irish people suffered and specially for gentry lose their high positions in the society, Gbriel find his way in traveling and savouring circus.The author make Gabriel exploring the idea of family, that with whom we are connected by blood and for ever or we born into this family. The author is a professional at developing the personalities and searching for their interior landscapes as well as the exterior ones. I released , that banville provide to the reader a series of small enjoyments while he giving details and appearing interesting people and places.
—Madiya Alsalty

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