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An Evening of Long Goodbyes: A Novel Paperback – September 13, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
If Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster were plopped into the 21st century, his adventures might resemble those of Charles Hythloday, the buffoonish hero of Murray's insouciant romp, shortlisted for the Whitbread. For three years, ever since his father died, 20-something Charles has been pottering around the family's crumbling seaside estate near Dublin, mixing himself gimlets and watching old movies. He sees himself as attempting to perfect sprezzatura, "the contemplative life of the country gentleman, in harmony with his status and history"; his formidable sister, Bel, and everyone else, however, view him as a shiftless drunkard, and Charles's own narration leaves little doubt whose judgment is more accurate. The reappearance of Charles's mother, who's been away at a clinic for alcoholics and is now determined to reform the rest of the family, means that his allowance is promptly cut off and he's required to get a job. This proves to be predictably difficult (a tech recruiter says, " 'So in short, Charles, it's fair to say you've never worked for a living, is that right?' "). Meanwhile, the family's Bosnian housekeeper smuggles her grown-up children into the country, and Bel starts a theater company at Amaurot with the housekeeper's striking daughter, Mirela, who's much too clever for smitten Charles. Murray's blend of drawing-room comedy and postindustrial hilarity is deft and jaunty, and well-timed snippets of foreshadowing keep the story moving briskly. If the characters occasionally seem too broadly drawn, they always operate in service to the novel's witty and satirical aims. This is a breezy, highly entertaining read.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Irish writer Murray makes a brilliant debut with Long Goodbyes, which was a finalist for the prestigious Whitbread First Novel Award after its publication in the U.K. in 2003. Often compared to P.G. Wodehouse, Noel Coward, John Kennedy Toole, and Flann OBrien (an Irish satirist), with a touch of Chekhov thrown in, Murray has penned a solipsistic soliloquy that deftly mixes farce and melodrama with social commentary. Most critics had few complaints, though a few noted some blips in the plotting. And The New York Times Book Review noticed a lapse in Charles voice once he left his seaside home for the slums. Still, all agree that Long Goodbyes is a bittersweet, and above all memorable, first novel.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, Charles's idyllic lifestyle cannot last. Events conspire to push him out of Amaurot and into productive society, where he engages in activities--paying work, for example--that were previously unthinkable. Charles grows as a human being, developing empathy, for example, and he is eventually compelled to confront the imperfections of his childhood at Amaurot, which he had long glorified.
While Charles's development is interesting to watch, he becomes a less interesting character as he changes from a wry commentator on a society that is alien to him to a productive participant in that society. The book, too, loses charm as it moves from the farce of its early pages to the melodrama of Charles's post-Amaurot life.Read more ›
This is not that novel. Nor is it particularly Wodehousian in tone. It reads more like Chekhov trying to "do" Wodehouse but eventually giving up. The premise is amusing, and the plot is chock-full of odd twists and turns, but it is to the author's credit that he does not follow the well-worn path this set-up leads to. Influenced heavily by Chekhov (in fact the plot mirrors that of "The Cherry Orchard," and Chekhov is invoked by the characters themselves throughout the novel), this book explores serious themes such as our inability to truly know or understand even those closest to us; the nature of hero worship and the damage it does to both worshipper and worshipee; the sometimes dubious benefits of "progress"; and the (mostly literary) myths of the nobility of the poor and the family as haven, among others.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best writers I've ever read. Skippy Dies is great, too. Both are well written and really funny.Published 12 months ago by Lisa Gronseth
If you want something really funny but completely inconsequential, this ain't it. This one gets quite serious and, in doing so, is satisfying. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Purist
Not as compelling as "Skippy Dies," I found myself really hating the main characters, but perhaps we are supposed to. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Kindle Customer
Loved the first half of the book, the second half not so much.Published on October 21, 2014 by John B.
Clever, I laughed a lot. Light-hearted and a good read for those fresh-out-of-college folk. I enjoy Murray's writing style immensely.Published on October 3, 2013 by dude
"An Evening of Long Goodbyes" is that rare character-driven novel rich in wit and humor accompanied by periods of endearing poignancy and an engaging story line. Read morePublished on October 2, 2013 by Wordsworth