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Going Home Again Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 13, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (August 13, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400044634
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400044634
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,740,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although it opens with a murder, the third novel by the acclaimed author of The Ash Garden is a tale with modest reach about regret, the faded promise of youth, family and marital dynamics, and realizing limitations while moving forward. Narrator Charlie Bellerose recounts a hell of a year during which he separated from his wife Isabel, left her and their daughter Ava in Madrid, and returned to Toronto to establish his fifth language school. There, Charlie encounters Nate, his selfish elder brother, who reminds Charlie of his discomforting past. Nate is an affluent lawyer likewise facing a divorce full to overflowing with discord and grievance, and the two brothers maintain an uneasy peace. Charlie runs into his first love, Holly Grey, prompting meandering episodes of remembrance: about the death of his parents; his university days in Montreal and close friendship there with both Miles Esler and Miles's girlfriend, Holly; Miles's seemingly accidental death; Charlie and Holly's deepening bond; and his solitary wanders through Europe and eventual arrival in Madrid, where he meets Isabel. Charlie's middle-aged ethical dilemmas about manhood, marriage, and family provide pleasant contrast to lengthy youthful travelogue that occasionally fails to make a strong impression. (Aug.)

From Booklist

Well-regarded Canadian author Bock (The Communist’s Daughter, 2007) seems to pose a rhetorical question with the title of his newest novel, Going Home Again, given that no one can return to what their memories have made of their actual past. Narrator Charlie Bellerose is a successful businessman and owner of several language schools. He lives in Madrid with his wife, Isabel, and his beloved daughter, Ava. When his marriage fails, he returns to Toronto, where he grew up, and reconnects with his brother, Nate, whose marriage is also unraveling. Charlie recalls his old life: his dear friend Miles; his first love, Holly; and the tragedy that rocked his youth. Charlie can’t quite wrap his head around what has happened, but he has more grace than Nate, a self-absorbed boor. “Wasn’t this the greatest irony, that what you need to leave behind are things you’re unable to abandon?” Bock offers a pleasant if sentimental take on whether character is fate and what, if any, preparation the past actually provides for life in the present. --Michael Autrey

Customer Reviews

This book will stay with me for a long time.
Tonya Speelman
The characters are very real, with their own quirks and flaws.
The author's use of metaphor is subtle and brilliant.
Carolyn E Badun

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kartowidjojo on January 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The work opens on the eve of protagonist Charlie’s daughter Ava’s thirteenth birthday in Madrid. Charlie is estranged from his wife Isabella and Ava and leads a high class itinerant lifestyle, shuttling between his various language academies in Europe and Canada. On his arrival, Monica, the estranged wife of his brother Nate, calls to tell him that Nate’s sailboat has been found adrift off the Florida coast.

The story goes more or less entirely into flashback at this point, interweaving Charlie’s college life and relationship with his boorish jock brother and his recent post-marital breakup reconciliation with Nate, occasionally resurfacing when Charlie interacts with his wife and child in the here and now. .

GOING HOME AGAIN is the kind of book we associate with the Ian McEwan of twenty years ago, but without much of the intelligence or wordcraft, which just about sums it up. A devastating event occurs, or is rumoured to have occurred, and the lonely single male protagonist goes on a long meandering walk through his whole life that brought him to this impasse with a few chapters of aftermath.

Bock’s writing is very nice: any single chapter makes a good read and in any single chapter there is always something interesting going on, with one important proviso. Every scene that involves Charlie and Ava, or any time Ava crosses Charlie’s mind, the writing becomes nauseatingly saccharine. The father and daughter scenes and mood, which Bock clearly thinks are the main point of the work are just simply repulsive.

The book lurches from being quite hardboiled to soft-centred chocolate box every few pages. It takes a long time get anywhere and it’s never quite clear why. The writing is good enough to keep one going, but it becomes frequently dreary. There are red herrings everywhere and ominous portents. It’s rambling and packs no punch.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe VINE VOICE on October 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Dennis Bock's GOING HOME AGAIN intrigued me by its title, suggesting a subject matter that I relate to in more ways than one. It also sounded like a very different novel from his earlier ones, THE ASH GARDEN and THE COMMUNIST'S DAUGHTER that are both anchored in a historical context and that I liked very much. GOING HOME AGAIN then is a contemporary story as much as a timeless private and even intimate story about love and loss, winning and losing, and making choices.

The story follows the journey - physical and especially emotional - of Charlie Bellerose, the narrator, who flees Canada for Europe in an effort to distance himself from the recent and not so recent tragedies and upheavals in his life. Now, twenty years later, the middle-aged, successful and confident father of an adored daughter, returns to Toronto, hoping to restart his life back "home". Bock's writing is affecting and personable as he follows the ups and downs of his hero's journey and inner struggles. We see the world through the eyes of Charlie, including his friends, his past and present lovers, and, last but not least, his brother Nate. His depiction of places, such as Montreal, Toronto or Madrid, where he eventually establishes himself in Europe, is lively and colourful.

It is often said that you have to leave home before you appreciate it fully. For Charlie his journey home is much more complex and difficult than that. He and his brother Nate, orphans since a young age, grow up into very different individuals and, not surprisingly, clash in ways that lead to emotional tension and separation. Will reconciliation be possible upon his return?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. Schoonover VINE VOICE on October 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Amazon has GOING HOME AGAIN in the mystery category and while both a suicide and a murder play integral parts in the storyline the book belongs more in literary fiction. The story is told by Charlie a man of about forty or so who is originally from Toronto but has spent most of his adult life in Madrid. He and his wife separate and Charlie returns to Toronto to set up a branch of the language schools that are his livelihood though he does not leave Spain without some angst around leaving his daughter and only child there. In Toronto he reconnects with his two years older brother, a sports and entertainment lawyer, who is also separated from his wife and dealing with single parenthood. Charlie's brother Nate has always been very competitive with him and though the brothers do draw closer at first soon tensions arise. While living back in Canada Charlie also reconnects with his girlfriend Holly from university days with whom he shares a sad past and introduces her children to Nate and his family with some ultimately disturbing results.

Author Dennis Bock is very good at characterization and physical descriptions. Some of the time shifts in GOING HOME AGAIN were a little confusing though a patient reader can soon figure them out. GOING HOME AGAIN is an interesting, intelligent novel that deals with several important universal themes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn E Badun on September 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Coming Home Again was recently nominated for the Giller prize and I think it should win.

It's a beautifully written story that shows how our choices shape our future, sometimes with tragic results. The characters are flawed, fascinating and very real. The author's use of metaphor is subtle and brilliant. The book starts with a mystery, then near the end, the daughter of the protagonist presents him with another mystery. On the surface, they're talking about a riddle that she doesn't want her father to give up on, but it also stands as a metaphor about his choices in life. It is a beautiful exchange that I won't ruin for you. Just read it.
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