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The Walk Home: A Novel Hardcover – July 8, 2014

3.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When one’s own home town ceases to feel like home, trouble sets in. And trouble, or more precisely, the Troubles, have been displacing Graham and his family since his grandfather, Papa Robert, was forced out of Ireland a generation ago. Although Graham and his extended family now live in Glasgow, he holds fast to the family pride as a drummer for a marching band. It is during Graham’s first annual Protestant Orange Walk that he meets Lindsey, a young runaway from Northern Ireland, and it’s not long before Lindsey is pregnant. After Stevie is born, Graham tries to help Lindsey improve their lives, but when a militant loyalist gets interested in the band, Graham falls back into that life, a decision that will destroy his marriage, estrange his parents, and alienate his young son. In this vividly atmospheric, achingly poignant, and sharply provocative tale, British novelist Seiffert (Afterwards, 2007), whose many honors include an E. M. Forster Award, sharply appraises the tenuous bonds that draw families together and the deeply held convictions that can drive them apart. --Carol Haggas


Irish Independent
“An engrossing domestic drama as much about family politics as it is about Northern Irish politics....Seiffert’s writing is both tightly controlled and almost orchestral in its sweep. You feel every emotion deeply, even as you are conscious of Seiffert deliberately drawing these emotions out. It’s a strange but not unpleasant sensation, a bit like observing an operation on yourself while under anesthetic. In this way, Seiffert’s writing feels very unusual, with a rare duality of precise writing and big emotional impact....a rare novel.”

The Economist
“A brilliantly compelling and powerful work, told in beautiful, lean prose.”

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (July 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030790881X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307908810
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,277,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
When issues related to the working class communities of Glasgow are tackled - in my experience more often in cinema than literature (in Red Road, in the films of Ken Loach and Peter Mullan) - it's to depict sordid situations of drugs, alcohol, poverty, abuse, deprivation and street violence (Mullan's brilliant 'Neds' being the hardest-hitting of all). Rachel Seiffert's The Walk Home deals with similar ground-level issues, but from a perspective of a community that rarely has a voice in UK literature - the working class loyalist Protestant and Orange communities living in the schemes of greater Glasgow in places like Drumchapel.

Rachel Seiffert made her mark with The Dark Room (filmed as Lore) and The Way Home similarly deals with social upheaval, family troubles and absent parents, but the subject seems closer to home this time and the situation rather more complex. The focus is divided between Graham and Stevie (the connection between them soon becomes clear), Graham meeting Lindsay, a young 17 year old girl, while playing with his Drumchapel Orange Lodge band in Co. Tyrone in Northern Ireland. When the girl turns up pregnant in Glasgow, the young couple try to make a go of starting a family and keeping it together, but old traditions, the past and family troubles prove hard to put behind them.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not, Seiffert doesn't wallow in the misery and there's precious little conventional violence in The Way Home. The violence is of different kind, the kind inflicted on families and individuals who strive to better their lives and escape from the trappings of the past and their community. A lot is left unsaid, but suggestions and implications are left open, in particular with relation to Lindsey's family in Northern Ireland.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I expect most other ratings of this novel to be three stars or less, not because Rachel Seiffert is bad -- on the contrary, she is very very good -- but because the combination of her delicate understatement and the unfamiliar social enclave within which she writes will mean that many readers will not get the point of her story at all. And the enclave is indeed a small one: the Ulster Protestant diaspora in working-class Glasgow. Even the dialogue takes a bit of getting used to: "A braw lassie wae red hair doon tae her bum, missus. Nothin tae dae wae us." (A pretty girl with red hair all the way down her back, nothing to do with us.)

But it so happens that this touches my own life in a couple of places. I grew up in Northern Ireland, and the Orange parades were a festive feature of the July scene, with their banners and sashes, fife bands and big painted Lambeg drums. I did not then see it as a dangerous manifestation of Protestant tribalism aimed to intimidate the Catholic minority; it was simply the mythology that the boys in my dormitory used to share in stories after lights out. Many years later, I moved to Glasgow for the first five years of my professional life, and was surprised to find the Ulster rivalries being played out in proxy by the supporters of the two football teams, Rangers and Celtic, with the same bands and symbols and almost equal aggression, though stopping short of bombs and kneecapping. I lived in a distinguished crescent in the University area, but it was impossible to ignore the hooliganism fomented by the misguided creation of huge housing projects on the fringes of the city. Drumchapel, where Seiffert's novel is largely set, was one of the worst.

Her novel plays out in two time frames.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel never really takes off. It's supposed to be set against the background of the Troubles in Ireland, but it's twice removed from them -- once by geography (it takes place in a Protestant area of Glasgow) and once by time. It's not clear why or in what way the characters are still so strongly influenced by the Troubles, While there is an awful lot of fuss about one of the central characters joining an Orange Order marching band, the reasons why there should be such a fuss remain obscure. The flitting between Stevie's childhood and his experiences as a young man working with a group of Polish construction workers seems equally purposeless. The fact that they are Polish is perhaps meant, in some vague way, to be significant, but we're never sure in what way. There are some good passages -- the events leading up to the departure of Lindsey (Stevies' mother), and Stevies' boyhood encounters in the abandoned high rises, are examples. But as a whole, the book lacks coherence, conviction, and above all passion. It is as if Ms. Seiffert herself was uncertain why she was writing the novel. It is not in the same league as her first published effort, "The Dark Room."
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Even though this book is a work of fiction, it informed me of a phase of recent history of which I was only partially aware. I was totally aware of the "Troubles" in Ireland, especially in the north, but the overflow of these into the cities of Scotland was something that I never considered. That overflow forms much of the driving force in the plot of this book.

Sitting on the outside looking into to the family relationships of this story as I, a reader found myself, caused me considerable angst. It was as if I knew that the actions of the members of the family were going to disrupt the fiber of the family. No matter how much I yelled at the book attempting to warn the individuals that they should forget their biases and their egos in favor of the love of family, they never heard me. Of particular concern to me was when strong feelings and arguments erupted in the presence of small children of the family causing the child to feel that for some reason he was responsible for the disruption.

There are several lessons in this book for the reader, I appreciate all of them for I have seen, perhaps in a lesser extent similar disruptions which caused permanent relationship damage.

I recommend this book.
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