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- Kate Grenville
"Behrens writes about the famine and its consequences as if he were an eyewitness. 'The Law of Dreams' is absorbing, unsparing and beautifully written. . . . His writing is seamless, and often gorgeous. He is adroit at creating indelible characters in a few deft strokes. . . . What Behrens knows, what he teaches us again in this masterly novel, is that the past was indeed wondrous, and terrible and strange, but that it was a very real place." — The New York Times Book Review
Winner of The Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction (Canada's Top Literary Prize)
"Any novelist must write with a sense of urgency, an ability to convince us that he understands his characters and knows what they are going through. This is especially true, I think, when dealing with a historical incident that has been largely forgotten or even become something of a punch line, as the famine has.
The Law of Dreams is a superb novel, and Behrens does a great job of putting one right in the midst of the horror that the famine actually was."
— Kevin Baker, author of Paradise Alley & Dreamland
"The Law of Dreams rings with a strange, hard poetry, a mingling of Behrens's rich narrative voice and scraps of startling wisdom that seem to emanate directly from Fergus's mind. Here he is in Liverpool, outside a pub, starving and barefoot, as always: 'Trying to make up his mind, he hopped restlessly from one foot to another, one coin in each fist. The door opened and [a] pack of thick-shouldered men came out, and he caught a tantalizing whiff of the smoky, meaty atmosphere within. You could stand outside, bootless and chewing fear like a baby; or take the bold plunge. Offer a coin...
From Publishers Weekly
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.
- ASIN : B002GPGZ06
- Publisher : Steerforth (July 8, 2009)
- Publication date : July 8, 2009
- Language: : English
- File size : 1398 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 420 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #976,292 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Other reviewers have talked about how much this book affects you. I am in that camp. It has had such a strong effect that my everyday "difficulties" are constantly compared to what "Fergus went through". Look around at what people are complaining about in the 21st century - give me a break!
It is rich in period language, terminology, scenes and history. The main characters are nicely drawn and thoroughly 3 dimensional. The main protagonist is still a bit of a mystery even after spending so many adventures with him. The characters that he finds and then leaves, are like semi-illustrated tableaus which are not fully drawn even as we leave them and go on to the next.
The suffering of the Irish both in starving Ireland and in the perilous voyage comes through with real poignancy.
It is a great story and wonderful history for anyone wanting to know about the movement from here to there and is not directly from Queensland to New York, but a truly difficult path with many legs along the way.
Hard to believe this is a first novel. I can't wait for the second!
Wow. I've never read anything that conveyed the sense of "the past" as brilliantly, or as richly, and "realistically" as this novel. The plot itself is worth the price of admission, but his prose is lush and rich and, as important, reflects the effort he made to be historically accurate.
The writing style was interesting and unique - sort of "artsy" and "pretty", but also confusing. I found myself re-reading passages to try and understand the point.
I enjoyed the historical aspect immensely, but overall the book was just mediocre.
The Law of Dreams brings to awareness a virtually neglected part of Irish history, a history that has influenced, and continues to influence, millions of Irish, those of Irish descent wherever they may be, and the peoples with whom they are in relationship. The Irish Famine (i.e. starvation) by the British government in the 1840s is comparable to the Jewish Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, and the horrific events in parts of contemporary Africa, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and South America. This novel would make excellent reading for High School Students, College/University students, and ignorant history teachers/professors throughout the world. As Edmund Burke wrote: "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."
Top reviews from other countries
The plot of the book is there to be read on the description, so I won't go into it. Suffice it to say that the plotline is realistic (I say this having studied the Famine in school and visited the Famine museum in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, Ireland several times), and the lyrical writing is of stunning quality. The story is tragic and extremely poignant and moved me to tears on a number of occasions. A couple of minor errors (doves in Ireland is the one that springs to mind - they didn't reach the country until well into the 20th century) were easily glossed over in what I regard as a masterpiece. Like Shantaram , this is a book which I will give to lots of people as a present.
Ben Kane, author of The Forgotten Legion.