Customer Reviews


6 Reviews
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DARK AND DISTURBING, March 25, 2003
By 
Larry L. Looney (Austin, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lamb (Norton Paperback Fiction) (Paperback)
Bernard MacLaverty�s short novel LAMB is a great example of things going terribly wrong for someone who has the �best of intentions�. The writing is flowing but intense, drawing the reader inexorably into the story � it makes this a hard book to lay aside, even for the night. I was tempted to stay up �too late� to finish it.
Brother Sebastian (née Michael Lamb) is a member of the Christian Brothers, assigned to a bleak reformatory where parents bring boys they can no longer control � it is a way station on the road to troubled adult lives, although it is seen by the parents and the administration as a place of rehabilitation. Unfortunately for the boys, the �rehabilitation� practiced by the headmaster and his staff in mostly made up of beatings and other forms of cruelty. The headmaster � Brother Benedict � at one point refers to the institution as �a finishing school for the Idle Poor�, a telling remark that shows his contempt for those to which he supposedly ministers. Sometimes beatings are administered to boys the headmaster knows in innocent of the transgression at hand, simply as an example to the population in general. It�s a depressing atmosphere, and it weighs heavily upon the already fragile character and emotions of Brother Sebastian.
There is one boy for whom Brother Sebastian feels a special, deep affinity � young Owen Kane, small for his age, quiet, and, as we learn, an epileptic. The boy is plagued by episodes of bedwetting, and his stubborn demeanor singles him out for especially violent �lessons� from the headmaster. Sebastian determines that the only way to save Owen is to take him away. He plots this action only skeletally, acting as he is on his emotions, with his intellectual abilities taking the back seat � and this comes back to haunt the two of them as they steal away from the school and take off on the road to London. Sebastian honestly loves and cares for the boy � this is not a story of sexual abuse by a church figure � but his increased depression, which he doesn�t recognize as such causes them to be in increased danger of discovery, leading to the inevitable and very disturbing conclusion.
The lighter scenes, in which Brother Sebastian manages to bring some rare joy into the childhood of his young charge � and as a result into his own dark life as well � are very moving. They give the reader hope that somehow, in some way, the Brother is successful in starting a new life with the boy, living in peace somewhere with him, as father and son. His intentions, as I mentioned, are completely loving and honorable � the darkness in the book is not in those intentions. There is darkness in the system that allows such a place as the school depicted here to exist in the first place, and to be �managed� in the manner of a prison for incorrigible criminals rather than an institution that would truly give troubled boys a �second chance�.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is shocking, disturbing and moving., October 6, 1999
This review is from: Lamb (Norton Paperback Fiction) (Paperback)
Lamb is a book about a priest (Brother Sebastian aka. Michael Lamb)who runs away from a cold, uncaring children's Home in Ireland with a young boy whom he feels sorry for. They then try to start a new life in England and try to forget their bleak past. Lamb is trying to come to terms with his fading belief in his religion and is at conflict within himself throughout the book. Lamb's teacher - pupil relationship with the boy changes to a father - son relationship and this strengthens his actions at the end of the novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lamb, September 10, 2005
This review is from: Lamb (Norton Paperback Fiction) (Paperback)
Lamb, by Bernard Mac Laverty, is, at 150 pages, a short read, but its brevity serves only to provide a perfectly told story without padding or exposition. It follows the story of a young priest, Michael Lamb (or Brother Sebastian), who runs away from the Irish Borstal that he works in, takes a deprived boy named Owen Kane with him. But, as his money dwindles, news of the kidnapping closes in on them, and Lamb finds himself running out of ideas on how to save the boy's life, leading to a dark climax borne of both necessity and love.

Beginning in the Borstal, aptly referred as "a finishing school for the sons of the Idle Poor" by its head, Brother Benedict, Lamb observes this to be an accurate statement as he believes it finishes their lives, providing them with little hope for the future. Upon inheriting money from his father's death Lamb resolves to rescue Owen, a misunderstood - and epileptic - boy, often made an example of due his stubborn nature, and give him the life he deserves. They break for London, and spend their time exploring the city and discovering each other, until the time comes when they have so few options that Lamb is required to make the decision that will affect their lives, but he believes to be right.

The characters, throughout, are developed sufficiently to create your own impression of them; although Owen's character could have done with further expansion with regards to his life before Borstal. Lamb, especially, as you would expect a title character, is well conceived and his decisions, at all times, appear believable. Brother Benedict, a sadist at heart, claims that he "was belted black and blue myself what harm did it do me?" without realising that it turned him into the one now administering beatings. Even the fringe characters: conmen, housekeepers, and perverts have enough splashes of colour to make them plausible.

The writing, while not being flowery, is engaging enough to spin the narrative on, making it a book you are not likely to put down until completion. It's a thrill to read as the escapes bond with each other, but watching as their world of opportunity caves in around them. The underlying meanings and symbols that make the book special, the many inferences of the book's title, for example, raise the scope of the novel, adding further richness to it.

Lamb, for its length, covers a number of topics, but the theme that stands out, for me, is love; that, and the things you would do for it. Sometimes, you don't even know you are doing it, Lamb discovers while trying to understand the fugues of Owen's epilepsy. But it's the grim denouement of the novel that questions how far one would really go, and it's this that adds the pièce de résistance to a wonderful and haunting tale.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply humane first novel, June 21, 2006
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lamb (Norton Paperback Fiction) (Paperback)
Brother Sebastian, alias Michael Lamb, works at a finishing school for the sons of the Idle Poor in Ireland. There the Brothers teach boys to conform, make their beds, how to hold a knife and fork in order to shoehorn them back into society at an age when, if they commit another offence, they go to the grown-up prison. If they do not conform, the school thrashes them. The Brothers thus teach them a little of God and a lot of fear.

It is to comply with his father's wish that Michael has stayed so long in the Brothers and besides he always wanted to help in whatever way he could the suffering of the world. Like the Lamb of God, he wanted to take away the sins of the world.

There are three reasons which push Michael to leave the Brothers: the death of his father and the money he left him, the values for which the school stands which he can no longer tolerate and his attachment to a boy called Owen Kane (Owen is the Gaelic word for lamb) whom he doesn't see fit for such an institution.

He therefore decides to leave secretly the school and take Owen with him to London with the hope to be the boy's saviour. They pose as father and son but soon the world closes in around them and when time, money and opportunity run out, Michael has no other option than to move towards a solution that is as uncompromising as it is inspired by his love for Owen.

A powerful and deeply humane novel with a breathtaking ending, both dramatic and inevitable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lamb - Bernard Mac Laverty, February 3, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Lamb (Hardcover)
I had to read Lamb by Bernard Mac Laverty as a school projet. At first I was really un-keen as it wasn't my kind of book , but by the second chapter I was totally hooked. the only thing better than this book is the film.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, November 9, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Lamb (Hardcover)
Dealing with the "kidnapping" of a young boy by a priest, to save the boy. How he saves the boy is very disturbing. "Lamb" is a well-written psychological study.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Lamb (Norton Paperback Fiction)
Lamb (Norton Paperback Fiction) by Bernard MacLaverty (Paperback - September 17, 1997)
$15.00 $14.25
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.