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Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

Bog Child (2008)

by Siobhan Dowd

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3.5 stars. She definitely has her own voice for her writing. It was different. I enjoyed the double story as they tried to look at the body and evaluate the evidence. ( )
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
Bog Child takes place in Ireland during the turbulent 1980's. While digging for peat with his uncle, Fergus discovers the body of a small child who appears to have been murdered. Throughout the novel the bog child's story is revealed to us in Fergus' dreams. While pondering what happened to the small child whom he christens Mel, Fergus is also studying for exams and worried about his brother who is on hunger strike. I really liked Fergus' and felt he was a relatable character who struggled to balance his wants and needs with those of his family. I thought that he was a genuinely good person who always strived to do the right thing. This book is well written and does a great job of capturing the strength and resilience of the human spirit. 4 stars ( )
  68papyrus | Sep 16, 2013 |
I liked the book as it showed people live their lives even in the midst of political upheaval and terrorism. Fergus studies for his exams, runs, makes friends with a border guard while at the same time his brother, in prison for political crimes, goes on a starvation diet as a protest. In the background is the discovery of the bog child Fergus and his Uncle found while cutting peat. The book makes much more clear reasons for the political violence in Ireland in the 20th century and how it affected individuals. ( )
  SparklePonies | Apr 19, 2013 |
When the narrator first read the background of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strikes I thought, hell no, I'm not up for reading or listening to anything this heavy. Maybe it was the lilting Irish narrator (fab job) or the exquisite layering of the three storylines but I fell in love a bit. The time period is handled seemlessly and the story within a story about the doomed Iron Age Bog Child is heart breaking. ( )
  akmargie | Apr 4, 2013 |
by Siobhan Dowd

Opening line--"They'd stolen a march on the day."

I haven't read much historical fiction that's set in the recent past, so this was a new experience for me. It does start me wondering about where the line is drawn between historical and contemporary fiction. Five years? Ten years? Twenty? Or is it something fuzzier?

I have to admit that I don't know much about Northern Ireland in the time of the Troubles. I mean, I know that they happened and I know a bit about the historical factors that went into creating them. But I didn't know about the hunger strike in 1981 or The Maze. Despite this, Dowd managed to convey a sense of the time and the unrelenting tension. She was able to provide just the right balance of information, in my opinion. Not too little--I wasn't simply confused by the names and places--and not so much that I felt like she was saying "Look at all the research I did!"

The story itself is haunting--I've caught myself thinking of it several times since finishing. There were a few points I wasn't quite as sure about--Cora seemed a bit tacked on somehow. I never entirely bought her character and fleshing out her motivations could have helped with that. I'm also not entirely sure how Mel's story and Fergus's overlap. They do, obviously, but I'm not entirely clear on the thematic connection.*

I found the fantastical element convincing overall. Mel's story was well drawn out, although I did feel a tad blindsided by the big reveal. At the same time, it made sense and made the whole thing just a little more tragic.

Unfortunately, due to Siobhan Dowd's untimely death, I've already read half of her published works. I do still want to read Solace of the Road.

*that sounds really English-majory, but it's the best way I can think of to say it. What I'm still puzzled about is what the two stories actually say to each other.

Book source: public library
Book information: Random House, 2008
My other Siobhan Dowd review:
The London Eye Mystery ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
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The bog lay in the bright, slanting morning light, the dew-drops sparkling like millions of diamonds. A large crowd of the local inhabitants had already gathered... They were tightly grouped in a ring around a dark-coloured human head, with a tuft of short-cropped hair, which stuck up clear of the dark brown peat. Part of the neck and shoulders was also exposed. we were clearly face to face once again with one of the bog people.
P.V. Glob, The Bog People
For my three sisters, Oona, Denise, Enda - my love as ever.
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They'd stolen a march on the day.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385751699, Hardcover)

DIGGING FOR PEAT in the mountain with his Uncle Tally, Fergus finds the body of a child, and it looks like she’s been murdered. As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him—his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles, and him in it up to the neck, blackmailed into acting as courier to God knows what—a little voice comes to him in his dreams, and the mystery of the bog child unfurls.

Bog Child is an astonishing novel exploring the sacrifices made in the name of peace, and the unflinching strength of the human spirit.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:25 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In 1981, the height of Ireland's "Troubles," eighteen-year-old Fergus is distracted from his upcoming A-level exams by his imprisoned brother's hunger strike, the stress of being a courier for Sinn Fein, and dreams of a murdered girl whose body he discovered in a bog.… (more)

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