From A Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan (Man Booker long list 2018)

Sometimes I think my book review posts ought to consist of nothing more than, “Read this now.” But, how many times do I come across a book which is truly spectacular? Not enough to warrant that kind of statement. So, I write the quotes which have impressed me. I try to give a summary without disclosing too much of the plot. I rarely say how truly special a book is until now.

This book is truly special.

It has been listed for the Man Booker Prize 2018, and if it wins I won’t be a bit surprised. Or, sorry (even though it’s the only book from the long list which I have read so far).

It is a story of three men who have each lost something in their lives. Farouk has had to leave Syria with his wife and daughter, searching for safety for them all. Lampy has had to deal with the loss of Chloe, whom he loves with all his heart even though the feeling is not reciprocated. And, John has to face life without his brother, without the love of his father which he so desperately craves.

These apparently disparate stories are told with such clarity, such sensitivity, such a tenderness, that I savored every word to fully dwell on the story. Each character is so fully realized I feel as if I have met them personally, had them tell me their story in their own words while we sat across from each other. Perhaps best of all, they are intertwined in wholly unexpected ways, bringing them into perfect syncopation with each other.

I loved it. From a Low and Quiet Sea is the best book I’ve read all year.

(Find an excellent review from Booker Talk here.)

21 thoughts on “From A Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan (Man Booker long list 2018)”

  1. Please let me know what you think when you’ve read it, Juliana. I’d love to discuss it with you, as there is so much substance to this novel which I cannot disclose to those who haven’t read it. His way of connecting everything is nothing short of miraculous, so rare in today’s most “popular” books.

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    1. How sweet are you, Lesley! My favorites are far and few between, but when I find one it is with me forever. I hope you find this as spectacular as I do. (There is the fear that I have talked it up too much.) xo

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      1. p.s. I recommended it to my mother’s book club yesterday, of which I am so honored to be a part, and they readily accepted it for September’s read. It is only a few hundred pages, which is another lovely thing. Authors don’t need to write over 500 pages to be effective, although I’ll never complain about Tolstoy.

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    1. I was sent All We Shall Know, and I was so foolish to put off reading it. Now I can’t wait! I wonder if that is the one you read? No matter; I can see what an incredible writer he is with any topic he would choose. xo

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    1. He wove it together so perfectly! I didn’t know what was coming, how they would connect, and when it became clear it was wonderful to not feel manipulated. Sometimes, it just all feels too contrived, but never once did Donal Ryan “make” me feel tricked.

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    1. Be warned, my mother didn’t like it as much ad I did, which surprised me as we usually agree on most everything. There is a segment with somewhat shocking language, and that may offend some readers. (For me, it just helped to flesh out the character.)

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      1. Ok thanks. That is what I love about books. It is such a personal experience reading and the discussions afterwards are always so much better when there is a difference of opinion.

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  2. Dear Bellezza,
    This isn’t for posting, it’s just a quick note to say thanks for this lovely and very heartening review. It rarely happens, and that’s ok, but it’s such a joy when someone understands completely what I was trying to say! I really appreciate it.
    Thanks again and best wishes,
    Donal

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    1. Donal, I’m so very glad to hear from you! I’m afraid my words are a poor representation of the power I felt from your writing. I am, afterall, a reader not a writer. But, I recognize good writing when I read it, and yours is some of the finest I’ve ever experienced. Thank you for the gift of this book.

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