My Father's House by  Joseph O'Connor

My Father's House

Joseph O'Connor

What a thrilling ride this book is - breakneck speed, breath-holding tension and characters you really care about. The pervading fear created by the Nazi occupation of Rome, the night-time missions in the backstreets, the bravery of everyday folk - all so authentic. I welcomed the polyphonic voices - they gave the narrative a special depth and meaning; each member of the 'choir' adding to the experiences and actions of their fellow choristers.


Swerving into Via Ventuno, the Daimler clips a dustbin, upending it. What spills out gives a scuttle and makes for the gutter but is ravaged by a tornado of cadaverous dogs bolting from one of the gloomy doorways.

Squawking brakes, jouncing over ramps, undercarriage racketing into potholes, fishtailing, oversteering, boards thudding, jinking over machine-gunned cobbles, into a street where wet leaves have made a rink of the paving stones.

Whimpers from the man. Pleadings to hurry.

Down a side street. Alongside the university purged and burned by the invaders. Its soccer pitch netless, strangled with weeds, the pit meant for a swimming pool yawning up at the moon and five hundred shattered windows. She remembers the bonfire of blackboards, seeing its photograph in the newspaper the morning of her daughter's eighteenth birthday. Past the many-eyed, murderous hulk of the Colosseum like the skeleton of a washed-out kraken. 

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