Donal Ryan's second novel, The Thing about December, was a finalist for Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. Ryan's first novel, The Spinning Heart, is an international best-seller and winner of the prestigious Guardian First Book Award.
While the Celtic Tiger rages, and greed becomes the norm, Johnsey Cunliffe desperately tries to hold on to the familiar, even as he loses those who all his life have protected him from a harsh world. Following the deaths first of his father and then his mother, Johnsey inherits the family farm, and a healthy bank account, both of which he proves incapable of managing on his own. Village bullies and scheming land-grabbers stand in his way, no matter where he turns. Though companionship, and the promise of love, enter his life as a result of a hospital stay following a brutal beating, Johnsey remains a lonely man struggling to keep up with a world that moves faster than he does.
Set over the course of one year of Johnsey's life, The Thing about December breathes with Johnsey's bewilderment, humor, and agonizing self-doubt. Listeners will fall in love with Johnsey in a bittersweet tale that serves as a poignant reminder that we are surrounded in life by simple souls who are nonetheless more insightful and wise than we realize, or can even imagine. Told from Johnsey's point of view, The Thing about December is at once life affirming and heartbreaking.
©2013 Donal Ryan (P)2014 Steerforth Press LLC
"From the first sentences his narration and [narrator Wayne Farrell] gorgeous voice pick me up and take me exactly where the author intends for the reader to go. His performance brought only what our wounded man Johnsey was capable of providing to the story, yet it inspired a much deeper connection between me and Johnsey than I would have anticipated." (Literate Housewife)
"The writing in this novel is simply amazing . . . [it] will at times make readers cry and at others, laugh in delighted recognition." (Library Journal. Starred Review)
"Written before Ryan’s award-winning debut, The Spinning Heart, this novel is set in the same town a decade earlier, capturing the spirit and vernacular of its place and time and taking readers into the mind of a man struggling to get along in a world he can’t quite comprehend. Stunning." (Booklist, Starred Review)
There is a gentleness that pervades this book, the slow thoughtfulness of the main character. This book is. beautifully written, it sweeps you up into his world. I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook.
The Narrator was really excellent. Helps the he is Irish so the accent is natural to him.
Overall story is about how bullies torment Johnsey and we hear his thoughts about what they say and do. His father challenges for him in all regards and his mother, slightly less kind to him is ameliorated by his fathers standing up for him. They protect him from the outside world as much as they can but don't prepare him to deal with life on his own once they have passed on.
It makes me happy to wake up everyday and look forward to listening. Many times I listen while doing artwork. I find it very relaxing.
The Thing About December was an absolute pleasure to listen to. It was engrossing and bittersweet and I had a hard time putting it down. It was a genuinely moving story told in ‘I think’ third person point of view by the protagonist Johnsey Cunliffe. This was brilliant writing by Donal Ryan. A work of art, the story felt poetic and almost prophetic. It does indeed give a person pause to think about the childlike innocence some people live with. How gentleness and simplicity are often mistaken for weakness. Johnsey was bullied and taken advantage of his whole life yet managed to remain without barriers or grudges.
He was lonely even while his parents were alive but they were his comfort, his safe place. When he was in the hospital after being beaten by the bullies and the townie and was temporarily blind, he was able to see things differently, realizing he was seeing with his mind rather than his eyes. I think he may have been simple and complex at the same time. I liked the part where he was reflecting about his mother and how she had said that being around a certain person was like a tonic. That the person was good for her. This was how the nurse Siobhan and his friend Mumbly Dave made him feel. They were his tonic.
His parents left him a wealthy man, but riches don’t live in the pocketbook. Richness lives in the heart. I was so happy when I heard him finally tell the old man who came to try to talk him into selling his family farm that he would have to check with his accountant. He finally stood up for himself. His reward was the newspaper reporter labeling him as greedy. This truly was a bittersweet story.
About the narrator: Wayne Farrell did an incredible job with this book. It was his touch, his voice that took an already great story straight over the top to perfection. The steady cadence of his voice really captured the character of Johnsey. His professionalism shone through in the poetic artistry of his performance. One of my favorite voice actors, Wayne Farrell raises the bar on this one. I definitely recommend listening to this audiobook.
Blog review at: SixthDimension Audiobook Reviews
I received this audiobook foc inx for an unbiased review.
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