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The Blasphemer: A Novel Paperback – August 23, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (August 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307717046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307717047
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,041,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

While on their way to the Galapagos Islands, Daniel and Nancy are involved in a freak airplane accident. For a brief second, Daniel instinctively chooses to save himself instead of the mother of his child. Although he goes back to save her, and eventually performs a heroic act that rescues her and others, this momentary betrayal throws their relationship and their lives into a tailspin. In a parallel story, Daniel’s great-grandfather struggles with loyalty, honor, and love during WWI. Multiple mysteries interweave and unravel as three generations of men try to answer questions about faith, God, and war in this suspenseful and unusual novel. --Marta Segal Block --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“Epic….a truly transcendental reading experience.”
—BookPage.com

"[An] elegant meditation on morality (among many other topics)....Farndale...knows how to tell a terrific story."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

International praise for Nigel Farndale’s THE BLASPHEMER

“This is a fine novel; strange and unforgettable.”
—Kate Saunders, The Times [London]

“A great achievement…To take on the First World War as so very many have done and make it fresh is remarkable.”
—Melvyn Bragg
 
“Does suspense exceptionally well, and is a book that won’t leave your fingernails intact...a terrifically exciting and thought-provoking must-read.”
—John Harding, Daily Mail
 
“Beautiful...Farndale's elegant prose, his storytelling ability and the wise tolerance with which he views...his characters lend his exhilarating novel a tenderly redemptive afterimage.”
—Jane Shilling, Sunday Telegraph
 
“This perfectly constructed drama explores the moralities around unconditional love and self-preservation. And it also weaves an intricate story of redemption starting in the trenches at Passchendaele and continuing till Britain's current terror threat....storytelling at its best.”
News of the World
 
“Ignites with an energy that should ensure short-listing in the next Man Booker Prize....Farndale’s evocation of trench warfare surpasses Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong...Of the book’s many accomplishments perhaps the strongest is the writing itself. Exquisite and luminous...Farndale gives a master class in the power of literature to illuminate the physical world and the human soul.”
The Australian
 
“Love, cowardice and redemption are the themes that stalk Farndale’s beautifully intelligent tale.”
Daily Mirror
 
“A beguiling and resonant novel of ideas. The action is vivid and absorbing...although this intergenerational family drama is plotted like a thriller, it’s also a novel of ideas, throwing light on the strange dance between religion and science.”
—Cameron Woodhead, Melbourne Age
 
“Profound, moving and compelling. A beautifully composed novel.”
—Emily Maitlis


From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

The themes of blasphemy and faith are explored very subtly from many different angles.
nevina
In praise of what is a beautifully written story - actually the weaving of parallel stories - first, is Farndale's ability to place us in the midst of his settings.
Barbara McArthur
It might seem that there are too many sub-plots and characters but they all seem to play a part.
Leser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Mccarthy VINE VOICE on February 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
You're on your dream vacation, flying on a float plane towards the Galapagos Islands, with your loving, long-term girlfriend by your side. You plan to propose to her when you land, making her your wife and (coincidentally) making your child legitimate. Unfortunately, the plane crashes and sinks in the ocean, and in your panic to save yourself, you push past your girlfriend and out to fresh air. You're thoughtful enough to return and save her, but will she ever forgive your moment of extreme selfishness?

That's the question "The Blasphemer" poses, but never quite answers. Let's start with Daniel Kennedy, aspiring college professor. A less likely hero you'd be hard pressed to find: Daniel is an elitist, self-absorbed, dope-smoking atheist. His unrelenting obnoxiousness makes this book challenging to read, and makes you wonder why Nancy, successful dentist and Daniel's girlfriend, ever agreed to a second date. Actually, you wonder a lot about Nancy, since we never find out much about her other than she doesn't respond well to crashing and nearly drowning. We also have their young daughter, who is diabetic, and his doctor, who is gay, though neither detail really factors in to the story. Then there is Daniel's friend, Professor Wetherby, a devout Catholic and despicable scoundrel.

There is also Andrew Kennedy, David's great-grandfather, who joined the British Army to fight in WWI. Shell-shocked in his first battle, he deserts and starts a second life with a French widow. He's eventually caught and court-martialed, and sentenced to death.

Daniel and Andrew's stories unfold in parallel, and the two are tied together by being "saved" by a mysterious figure, who leads them each to safety. Is the figure a hallucination or an angel -- pure chance or miracle?
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Format: Hardcover
Farndale's novel begins innocently enough with a trip to the Galapagos Islands, as Zoologist Daniel Kennedy and Nancy, the mother of his daughter, face a horrifying scenario as their plane crashes into the ocean. It is Daniel's reaction to this moment that sets the stage for a multi-layered story of courage, failure and forgiveness. In that moment, Daniel's decision is instinctive, but will deeply affect his relationship with Nancy and the way he views himself as a man and as a father. An atheist, Daniel's survival- and his heroism- are further impacted by an otherworldly event after the crash that he describes as a "hallucination", one tests his deepest-held beliefs. And while Daniel and Nancy now face a challenged relationship on their return to London, Farndale reaches even farther into Kennedy's past, resurrecting the experiences of his great-grandfather in World War I, as Andrew Kennedy survives a punishing battle in France and has an encounter with a stranger who leads him from danger, never to be seen again.

The appearance of this figure is at the core of the novel, known by soldiers as the "Angel of Mons" in World War I, or a vaguely familiar person in Daniel's more recent ordeal. Are these figures angels, apparitions or merely creations of the mind in the stress of such pivotal and life-threatening moments? For Daniel, everything he believes is called into question, the political climate in London rife with dissent and the ongoing threat of terrorism, the city beleaguered by suspicion and fear, as public enmity towards Muslims grows to dangerous proportions. In his moment of life-or-death, Daniel learns his limitations, as does his great-grandfather, Andrew, the author exploring the nature of crisis and its aftermath in the context of each man's environment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Barbara McArthur VINE VOICE on January 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Unfortunately, I could only read this book in bits at a time - but I found myself eager to pick it up whenever time allowed. This is a novel for my "keeper" shelf - one I will re-read when I can devote the time it deserves. In praise of what is a beautifully written story - actually the weaving of parallel stories - first, is Farndale's ability to place us in the midst of his settings. I have never had the opportunity to read about World War I in so much minute detail - and I found it fascinating and so uncomfortable at the same time. We spent enough time in the trenches that the horrors became very real, and disturbing.

The characters were walking off the pages for me, and one, I found so despicable that I yearned to reach into the book and use the garrot on him! With the same amount of fervor, I wanted so to help our heroes.

This is a story with great depth and well worth your time to read it. Be prepared to be transported, as, in describing his scenes and situations, Farndale will not leave you outside looking in.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert Busko VINE VOICE on February 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Somewhere in the land of fiction writing there is a clearer, more concise version of The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale. I've read hundreds of books and I can't remember a case that relied on coincidence and miraculous interventions more than The Blasphemer. The book is not a total loss and is certainly deserving of the attentions of a reader, but I'd check it out of the library and save the money for something more worthwhile.

While on a flight to the Galapagos Islands for research, Daniel Kennedy and his wife experience one of the modern fears that is almost universal among the flying public; a plane crash. From the instant the plane goes down, Daniel panics and scrambles over his wife in an effort to get out of the plane. He eventually recovers his senses and manages to behave heroically in the end. Add to this that the planes crash is missed by traffic control and the situation is set for an interesting situation. Or so would one think. Though full of fertile possibilities, Farndale misses the opportunity to cash in on them, and he never really using the tension he created.

There is another thread to the novel and that is Daniel Kennedy's great grandfather's experience in the trenches of the First World War. As a personal note, this part of the story is by far the best part of the book. Farndale is a good author but he fails to deliver a consistent read.

All in all I'd have to give The Blasphemer and average rating given the plausibility issues.

Peace always.
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