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The Fields: A Novel Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books (August 13, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316223565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316223560
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,084,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Set in Dublin in the 1980s, The Fields is the story of young Jim Finnegan’s coming-of-age. Benchmarks of his uneven progress include his serial sexual abuse at the hands of the local parish priest and his falling in love with a beautiful older girl, Saidhbh. A bit improbably (he’s only 14; she’s 17), she returns his affections and in short order becomes pregnant. The two go to London, planning an abortion. But will they follow through, and what will happen to them in the city? Maher’s first novel features a wonderfully sympathetic protagonist and first-person narrator in Jim, while his family—his parents and five older sisters—are equally endearing. The voice and tone are spot on, but after a realistic treatment of the characters and a nicely realized setting, the book takes a very odd turn near the end when Jim discovers New Age thought and practices. Indeed, the ending almost seems to belong to another book but is redeemed by the boy’s rapprochement with his family. Inconsistency aside, The Fields is an often humorous, always diverting exercise that is sure to charm readers. --Michael Cart



"A joy to read: fresh, funny, moving, and always unexpected."—Kate Atkinson, author of Life After Life and Case Histories

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Customer Reviews

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See all 9 customer reviews
I look forward to the next novel from this great writer.
Peter in Ireland
There are parts of this book that are really good and then there are parts that just make you shake your head.
Susan Johnson
Her observations were so detailed, so beautiful and realistic.
Kim Luu

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
There's no easy way of getting around this, and some might consider it a spoiler, but one of the most significant points you might want to know about Kevin Maher's debut novel upfront of reading it is that deals with a particularly troubling case of sexual abuse of a young Dublin boy by a Catholic priest. I didn't know this beforehand myself, but you can see it coming from very early on - almost from the moment that the rather smugly arrogant parish priest looks 14 year-old Jim Finnegan up and down in response to his mother's pleas to consider him for a prestigious position as an altar boy. The Fields is however about much more than this - and it's actually a very funny book - but the reason why I think it's worth mentioning that unpleasant matter here is that you simply can't talk about anything else in this book without that fact being known. It's an experience that colours everything and, evidently, has a profound impact on the direction that the young narrator's life takes.

And, in essence, that's the main theme of The Fields, the book considering the childhood experiences that mark us most, form our character and personality and set us on unexpected directions in adult life. It's a coming-of-age story then and it has many elements that anyone growing up during the 80s will recognise - but it's one that will have particular resonance for anyone who has grown up in Ireland during a time when the Catholic church held a unassailable position of authority, influence and unquestioning respect. If The Fields does nothing else, it helps the reader to understand why such abuses occurred and why no one - least of all young impressionable children - dared to speak out about them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a debut novel from Kevin Maher, it tells of the story of Jim Finnegan and starts our tale in 1984 when `Finno' is the tender age of thirteen. He lives with his Mammy and Daddy in Dublin and his five sisters. He also loves `Bronski Beat' and his best mate Gary whose own Daddy has to fly for the worlds worse named air line, yes Aer Lingus. Being thirteen he has more hormones than an artificial insemination production plant (if they actually exist, I haven't Googled it yet) and falls for Saidhbh who's own father is in `The Movement' which is code for the IRA, or at least everyone thinks he is. Either way he hates the ruddy Brits and loves all things Gaelic, hence the extensive use of consonants in all of his children's names.

He has to put up with a number of life's travails and also the very much unwanted attention of one of the Priests after he gets volunteered to be an altar boy. As his shenanigans get more adult in nature, his youthful innocence, which wasn't too innocent to be honest, leads him to have to make decisions that many a fully fledged adult would have problems with. The result is a brilliant story that races along so fast you are always left wanting more.

Kevin Maher has done that trick that eludes so many authors, in that he has dealt with some very difficult issues and still managed to keep the humour levels ramped right up, if this were a Rockumentary, the humour levels would be set on eleven - if you get my drift. Even when things are desperate he still manages to be funny. His observations are all brilliantly observed, but more impressive as they are done though the eyes of a fourteen year old tasting the highs and lows of life, often for the first time.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Susan Johnson VINE VOICE on September 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are parts of this book that are really good and then there are parts that just make you shake your head. The books starts well with the story of young Jim growing up in the mid 1980's in Dublin. There are a lot of humorous moments and you think this is a feel good book. Then it takes a gigantic turn when something awful happens. This part has a of depth of feeling and you think it's going to be exploration of the aftermath. No. It takes another turn and goes into absurdity. It's like three separate books.

First of all, it needed some good editing. Is this a lost art? There are some slip-ups that make you cringe. For example, it's the mid 1980's and the boys go on a camping trip with their randy priest. They make gluten free pancakes. Really? In the 1980's no one knew the word gluten let alone made products for it. It also has no sense of place. Although this book takes place in Dublin supposedly it could have been anywhere in Ireland. There was really no incorporation of the city to the story.

The last part really makes me cringe. Jim is in London and runs into an old friend. They go to this spiritual awakening place that tries to make Jim a healer in two weeks. Never mind it normally takes 5 years. This sets up one of the most absurd endings I have read in awhile. It almost made me weep. This could have been a good book but clearly lost its path. Such a waste.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I received this book through the Goodreads Giveaways

I am trying not to let the ending of this book alter my review, which absolutely would have been 5 stars otherwise. I loved the writing style of the author, and really did laugh out loud at much of the book, the dialogue was so entertaining and real, especially the hectic scenes in the Irish household with so many sisters.
I am finding it difficult to write a review of a book that contains so much humor but also clerical abuse of an innocent child, so I am in awe of the ability of the author to write such an excellent book that includes both. It is the story of Jim Finnegan, a 14 year old Dublin lad living in the 1980's. The Irish lingo was hard at times to understand, but it flowed so easily it felt right. Apparently this is a debut novel for this author and I think he is one of the best writers I have had the pleasure to read, but the ending.....I really don't know what happened there, the last 50 pages or so were slow going. But overall, I really loved the rest of it, and yesterday I gave it to a friend to read and I would not have done that if it hadn't been a terrific read overall. I can't wait to read more by this author, he is quite a talented writer.
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