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Until I Find You: A Novel | [John Irving]

Until I Find You: A Novel

When he is four years old, Jack travels with his mother Alice, a tattoo artist, to several North Sea ports in search of his father, William Burns. From Copenhagen to Amsterdam, William, a brilliant church organist and profligate womanizer, is always a step ahead, has always just departed in a wave of scandal, with a new tattoo somewhere on his body from a local master or "scratcher".
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Publisher's Summary

Until I Find You is the story of the actor Jack Burns, his life, loves, celebrity, and astonishing search for the truth about his parents.

When he is four years old, Jack travels with his mother Alice, a tattoo artist, to several North Sea ports in search of his father, William Burns. From Copenhagen to Amsterdam, William, a brilliant church organist and profligate womanizer, is always a step ahead, has always just departed in a wave of scandal, with a new tattoo somewhere on his body from a local master or "scratcher".

Alice and Jack abandon their quest, and Jack is educated at schools in Canada and New England, including, tellingly, a girls' school in Toronto. His real education consists of his relationships with older women, from Emma Oastler, who initiates him into erotic life, to the girls of St. Hilda's, with whom he first appears on stage, to the abusive Mrs. Machado, whom he first meets when sent to learn wrestling at a local gym.

A melancholy tale of deception, Until I Find You is also a swaggering comic novel, a giant tapestry of life's hopes. It is a masterpiece to compare with John Irving's great novels, and restates the author's claim to be considered the most glorious, comic, moving novelist at work today.

©2005 John Irving; (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“As ever, Irving is at his best with the family relationships he creates. They are simultaneously touching and infuriating. It is with these relationships that Irving firmly grasps universal truths and puts a chokehold on his readers…. Irving’s descriptions are distressing to read, but they force the reader to relate to the characters in a way they would not in most works of fiction.” (Calgary Herald)

Until I Find You . . . cuts closer to the bone than any of [Irving’s] previous works.” (Ottawa Citizen)

“Bittersweet . . . moving.” (People)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (186 )
5 star
 (54)
4 star
 (67)
3 star
 (35)
2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (15)
Overall
3.8 (69 )
5 star
 (26)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.1 (68 )
5 star
 (29)
4 star
 (24)
3 star
 (10)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (2)
Performance
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  •  
    Katharina SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA 04-30-06
    Katharina SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA 04-30-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
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    12
    4
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    Overall
    "Great story, annoyingly read"

    If you like John Irving, you'll enjoy this book. It is a very complex and long story (32 hours!) with lots of interesting characters and unexpected turns. The plot was captivating albeit a little disturbing at times (the child abuse story line is not for the faint of heart). The only thing I really didn't like was the narrator: his multiple accents were at the best annoying, in some places downright ridiculous or wrong - his German pronounciation was actually painful for a first-language German like me. He should have asked somebody to guide him who knows the language.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Simms Indiana 06-26-07
    B. Simms Indiana 06-26-07 Member Since 2007

    Bevpianolady

    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
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    "Interesting but Disappointing"

    I'm a real John Irving fan, and my absoute favorite book is A Widow for One Year. I had high hopes for this book, and was eager to get started on it. Unfortunately, it was a big disappointment, especially when compared to A Widow for One Year. The opening chapters are too long, and I got bored with the descriptions of the main character's travels. The story becomes interesting - and very disturbing - when the young boy experiences sexual abuse at the hands of adult women. But as the story progesses this becomes utterly absurd and unbelievable. At some point I realized I no longer felt sympathy for the young boy who seems as perverted and freakish as the women he is abused by. I also found the ending unconvincing. If you haven't read A Widow for One Year, download that one instead of this one!

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miz Odd-Reigh Phoenix, AZ 04-05-10
    Miz Odd-Reigh Phoenix, AZ 04-05-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    3
    1
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    "Save Your Credits"

    I chose this book because I've enjoyed every other John Irving book I've tried, and was eager to fall into another. I really, really, REALLY wish I'd saved my credits. This book is terrible. It's boring, repetitive, and pretty much the only thing in it that isn't done better many times over in his other work is the way that almost every woman becomes sexually obsessed with the protagonist. If the character were an adult throughout, I'd write that off as author wish fulfillment, but it's kind of sick when the character is a small child. I'm a porn-positive person, but this isn't even pornographic - it's just tasteless and bad. I'm now about halfway through the second installment (of four), and am engaged in an endurance test to see if I can make myself finish it. This is every minor flaw found in Irving's work magnified a thousandfold, without any of the charm or warmth that makes his other work so worthwhile. Save your credits, save your time, I wish I had done the same.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    workingmom Tulsa 03-05-08
    workingmom Tulsa 03-05-08 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    28
    4
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    0
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    "Don't bother"

    I am a John Irving fan. However, but like many writers, the themes from his first hits continue to resurface in following books, i.e., young man w/ bizarre childhood, wierd sexual experiences, wrestling, East coast prep-school....This book is WAY TOO LONG at 32 hours. I should have stopped about 28 hours ago :).

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg 12-17-08
    Greg 12-17-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    200
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    1868
    81
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    9
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    Overall
    "Sooooo close to a 5"

    Rich, accurate character development in a great story. Loved the ending. A little more tragedy would have made this a 5.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret Huntsville, AL, United States 08-01-13
    Margaret Huntsville, AL, United States 08-01-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    60
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    "John Irving, please stop"
    Any additional comments?

    I was once a great fan of John Irving. No more. I listened to this ridiculous tome for as long as I could, and then gave up. It's one thing to write about quirky, unusual characters. It's quite another to have them doing, saying and thinking things that just aren't possible within the confines of the character as written.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-07-11

    bac

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    40
    11
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    0
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    "A disappointed Irving fan"

    John Irving is my favorite contemporary author. I have everything he's written, including his pre-Garp books. And typically, I finish a book even if I'm not enjoying it. I want to give the author a chance to turn it around for me. This is one of the few books that I just couldn't finish. I particularly wanted to extend the benefit of the doubt to my favorite author. I managed to get through most of the first two parts and just couldn't take the idea of sitting through another 16 to 18 hours. The first several hours are devoted to Jack and his mother moving from town to town searching for his father with the same result and recycled characters in every town. That part could have easily been condensed to one or two chapters without losing any critical plot points. The story simply takes to long to advance. Along the way, the protagonist encounters so much sexual exploitation that it made my head spin...and I work in child welfare. Irving's books are always full of deviant and bizarre behavior. But my favorite thing about him is that by the time the character commits such behavior, the reader has such a through understanding of them that their actions seem quite reasonable. Irving makes us understand that we can understand just about anyone once we hear their story. But in the case of this book, I couldn't even care about the main characters. My primary thought while listening to the first half of this unreasonably long book was "please...just get on with it."

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Valerie 12-18-11
    Valerie 12-18-11
    ratings
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    77
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    Story
    "Disappointed fan"

    I am a huge John Irving fan. I often list him as a favorite author and have devoured every other book he's written. I wish I had read some of the other Audible reviews before I gave up 2 credits and 32 long hours of my life to this book, but I just assumed I would love it as well.

    I waited forever for the plot to grab me, but it never did. In telling the story he lists endless irrelevant details. With most audio books when temporarily distracted, I rewind a little to hear what I missed. Not this one, I couldn't wait to get through it, and had quickly learned that none of the details mattered anyway.

    Sorry, John, it pains me to say it, but this book does not live up to your many other masterpieces.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David United States 06-22-13
    David United States 06-22-13 Member Since 2010
    ratings
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    121
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    "John has turned into a perverted hateful man."
    What would have made Until I Find You better?

    John has turned into a perverted hateful man. this is the most hateful book i have ever read, John Irving has written the opposite of most of his previous themes of hope and the tough it spirit of people.


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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