Books - Review

Showing all books by: John Irving

The Fourth Hand
After having has hand bitten off by a lion TV journalist Patrick is the first recipient of a hand transplant. But the widow of the hand-donor demands visitation rights, and more, from Patrick, who realises that maybe there is more to life than shagging lots of women.
Excellent, really enjoyed this, very funny in places, and a good love story(ies) too! Read it in Cuba on hols.
Score: 8
Published: 2001
Read: April 23rd 2007

A Prayer for Owen Meany
Owen Meany - unusually short and with a strange VOICE, grows up in a small American town with his best friend John (who narrates). But John is left without a mother when one fateful day Owen finally connects with a baseball that happens to kill John's mother. However the two remain best friends, even though Owen is convinced he has been put on earth for God's purpose, and one day during a performance of a Christmas Carol he sees his own gravestone, complete with date of death.
Excellent - really good story with super characters. Lots of ordinary growing up stuff together with some politics and religion thrown in. First book read in Kazakhstan
Score: 8
Published: 1989
Read: August 17th 2008

The World According to Garp
Garp is born to Jenny, a nurse and sort of unwitting pioneer feminist, who manages to get pregnant with the help of a crippled, dying ball-turret gunner who she nurses. Garp grows up, and becomes a writer. He gets married, has kids, affairs and problems.
Bit meandering, lots of good bits about fathers being overly anxious about their children's health and safety, followed by the bit where he ironically is directly responsible for killing one child and maiming the other. Although the wife played her part too!
Score: 7
Published: 1978
Read: June 11th 2009

The Cider House Rules
Dr Larch runs an orphanage/abortion clinic in 1930's rural Maine when abortion is illegal. Homer is one of his orphans, who grows up at the orphanage following several unsuccessful adoption attempts. He learns obstetrics at Dr Larch's side but maintains he won't perform an abortion himself. Eventually he goes to live on an apple orchard with Candy and Wally, falls in love with Candy, and then feels terribly guilty when he sleeps with Candy while Wally away at WW2 suffering paralysing injuries, and she conceives Angel... and there's Melody, and Alzheimer's-suffering Senior, and Fuzzy Stone and the station-master, and all the various occupants of the cider house...
Excellent - seems to cover huge amounts of ground, but always with totally believable characters having stressful decisions to make!
Score: 8.5
Published: 1985
Read: April 11th 2010

Last Night in Twisted River
Set (initially) in the northern logging camp of Twisted River, a Young Danny bashes his father's lover over the head with a skillet, mistaking her for a marauding bear. The two then have to leave town, as they know the local nasty cop will hunt them down for framing him for the murder... And so their lives unfold, and Danny becomes a famous author, but eventually the past catches up with them.
A bit slow and turgid I thought - an interesting plot kept me going, but it all seemed a bit disjointed and forced.
Score: 6.5
Published: 2009
Read: July 15th 2010