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Troubles by J. G. Farrell

Troubles (1970)

by J. G. Farrell

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1,0823811,637 (4.02)1 / 479

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
After WWI, an English Major goes to Ireland to marry his fiance, a woman he has corresponded with for years but has barely met in person. Her family owns the Majestic Hotel, a huge and formerly glorious hotel that suffers from neglect and is falling apart. The Major stays in the hotel for a few years as it crumbles around him and its primarily English residents. Meanwhile, The Troubles are happening, and the English bemoan the incivility of the Irish.

This is one of those books where not much happens - it's a long, slow burn (perhaps too long). The writing is good, the humor is droll, and the symbolism of the decaying hotel is appropriately ponderous. It's a bit of a class satire as the English cower in fear from the Irish and get increasingly irrational in their retaliation. It's mostly the writing that makes this book worth reading: the writing is deceptively simple and very engaging. ( )
  Gwendydd | Mar 19, 2019 |
I think I enjoyed this the least out of the Empire Trilogy. I was surprised how little it really dealt with the actual troubles in Ireland, it was mostly a very local novel set inside the Majestic Hotel. It is still quite good, the decaying hotel is vividly drawn and events there are both surreal and mundane whilst Ireland is at war around it. But I wanted to learn a bit more about the war of independence as well. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Aug 5, 2018 |
A deeply claustrophobic novel set in a hotel of incredible decrepitude in Co. Wexford, Ireland, and how the decaying Anglo-Irish types who live in the hotel deal with the decaying Anglo-Irish situation in the Ireland of 1919-1922. A number of very sharp comic set-pieces and some very vivid characterizations. Well worth picking up. ( )
  EricCostello | Feb 22, 2018 |
This is one of the funniest and saddest books I've ever read. After World War I, Major Brendan Archer heads to Ireland to see a young woman he might or might not be engaged to, based on a series of letters they wrote to each other. But it turns out she's not quite the woman he was expecting. Still he stays there, in an old run-down hotel, and his interactions with the other inhabitants, including another woman he becomes enamored with, are worth the price of admission alone. All this is set against the political backdrop of rising violence, which gives the novel added heft. Farrell was also a master stylist--I can't think of a non-beautiful sentence in the entire book. ( )
  MichaelBarsa | Dec 17, 2017 |
A wonderful and totally engrossing book full of poignancy, humour and acerbic insight into British colonialism in Ireland set in a decrepit hotel, The Majestic, that has seen better days. ( )
  sianpr | Dec 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Set in the Majestic hotel in fictional Kilnalough, County Wexford, Troubles sees Major Brendan Archer travelling to meet Angela, the fiancee he had acquired during an afternoon's leave. The engagement proves shortlived but the major remains in the hotel, hypnotised by its faded charms and ancient inhabitants, as the Irish war of independence is about to begin.

added by peterbrown | editThe Guardian, Alison Flood (May 20, 2010)
Troubles has everything: great story, compelling characters, believable dialogue and big ideas. It's a book good enough to win the Booker in any year. Not just 1970.
added by peterbrown | editThe Guardian, John Crace (Apr 1, 2010)
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In those days the Majestic was still standing in Kilnalough at the very end of a slim peninsula covered with dead pines leaning here and there at odd angles.
“People are insubstantial. They never last. All this fuss, it’s all fuss about nothing. We’re here for a while and then we’re gone. People are insubstantial. They never last at all.”
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140039732, Paperback)

Set against the backdrop of growing tensions in Ireland in 1919, Troubles, written in 1970, is the first novel in J.G. Farrell's "Empire Trilogy". "Troubles" is set on the east coast of Ireland, largely in the Hotel Majestic, a formerly grand building that has seen better days and now generally houses more cats than guests. The listener is taken back to July 1919, when the 'Major' is visiting the Majestic to reunite with his fiancee Angela, the Protestant proprietor Edward Spencer's daughter. The lovers met in Brighton during the War and have since only corresponded long-distance. The welcome he receives is not quite what he expected. He quickly becomes sucked into the political and sociological ethos of the hotel and its inhabitants, and the story builds tantalisingly until its inevitable dramatic conclusion. A touching, often very funny and yet ultimately rather sad story, which will capture the listener's heart and excite their interest with its themes of Irish politics and love, played out in an unlikely and fragile sanctuary. The reader Sean Barrett is an Irish-born actor who has enjoyed success in the theatre, on television and in film.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:44 -0400)

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 fiancee 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."… (more)

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