The Fields

Kevin Maher

The Fields

I slept right through to the next day. Missed the funeral and everything. Mam said it was just as well. Would've been too upsetting. I think of him now, though. Right at this moment. Here in this kitchen. And I wonder if it could've been different. Dublin, 1984: Ireland is a divided country, the Parish Priest remains a figure of immense authority and Jim Finnegan is thirteen years old, the youngest in a family of five sisters. Life in Jim's world consists of dealing with the helter-skelter intensity of his rumbustious family, taking breakneck bike rides with his best friend, and quietly coveting the local girls from afar. But after a drunken yet delicate rendition of 'The Fields of Athenry' at the Donohues' raucous annual party, Jim captures both the attention of the beautiful Saidhbh Donohue and the unwanted desires of the devious and dangerous Father Luke O'Culigeen. Bounced between his growing love for Saidhbh and his need to avoid the dreaded O'Culigeen, Jim's life starts to unravel. 3.6 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
The Fields

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 400
RRP
Date of Publication February 2013
ISBN 978-1408704165
Publisher Little, Brown
 

I slept right through to the next day. Missed the funeral and everything. Mam said it was just as well. Would've been too upsetting. I think of him now, though. Right at this moment. Here in this kitchen. And I wonder if it could've been different. Dublin, 1984: Ireland is a divided country, the Parish Priest remains a figure of immense authority and Jim Finnegan is thirteen years old, the youngest in a family of five sisters. Life in Jim's world consists of dealing with the helter-skelter intensity of his rumbustious family, taking breakneck bike rides with his best friend, and quietly coveting the local girls from afar. But after a drunken yet delicate rendition of 'The Fields of Athenry' at the Donohues' raucous annual party, Jim captures both the attention of the beautiful Saidhbh Donohue and the unwanted desires of the devious and dangerous Father Luke O'Culigeen. Bounced between his growing love for Saidhbh and his need to avoid the dreaded O'Culigeen, Jim's life starts to unravel.

Reviews

The Guardian

Justine Jordan

The highly coloured, soapily operatic plot becomes, by the end of the book, a very tall tale indeed, but that's part of the point; Maher understands the comic power both of fine detail and wild exaggeration. Thrust into extremity, Jim retains that childlike combination of innocence and enthusiasm that can make even daily existence seem larger-than-life: The Fields glows larger still. Fresh, beguiling and laugh-out-loud funny on every page, this must be the most enjoyable Irish novel since Skippy Dies.

21/03/2013

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The Times

Melissa Katsoulis

To the English ear the ribald Irish idiom is always sweet music and it’s no secret that its native speakers revel in it, too. Combined with a 13-year-old’s natural interest in willies and boobs, the first half of The Fields is little more than a fizzy celebration of naughty boys and their filthy tongues. Then suddenly it all gets rather nasty, thanks to the fate visited upon young Jim by the new parish priest, Father O’Culigeen.

02/03/2013

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The Daily Express

Keir Pratt

If you can handle a wild and sometimes unbelievable plot, while laughing at the childish observations, then this is a very rewarding read.

29/03/2013

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The Literary Review

Simon Hammond

Even though its concoction of girls, booze and Eighties ephemera feels familiar, it is handled with such vitality that it doesn’t really matter ... The narrator’s descriptions of his experiences at the hands of an abusive priest are particularly affecting, with schoolboy humour used as a defence against despair. The novel is less effective when implausibilities creep in and Maher’s fingerprints are too conspicuous.

01/05/2013

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The Daily Mail

John Harding

Rich in period detail, Kevin Maher’s debut novel captures the spirit of the changing times in Ireland, and convincingly conveys all the exuberance, uncertainty and angst of being a teenage boy; it’s funny and heart-warming.

28/02/2013

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The Financial Times

Neil O’Sullivan

The Fields is an uneven book. Later chapters set in a London that is home to abortion clinics, gays and people not governed by fear of God, tend to wander. And early on Maher leans a bit too heavily on 1980s nostalgia and profane Irish banter of the variety popularised by Roddy Doyle, without (Finno aside) quite matching the characters of Doyle’s “Barrytown” novels.

12/04/2013

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