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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 (215 )
5 star
 (65)
4 star
 (79)
3 star
 (36)
2 star
 (18)
1 star
 (17)
Overall
3.8 (93 )
5 star
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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
4.2 (92 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Katharina SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA 04-30-06
    Katharina SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA 04-30-06 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
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    "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.

    23 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Simms Indiana 06-26-07
    B. Simms Indiana 06-26-07 Member Since 2007

    Bevpianolady

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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!

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg 12-17-08
    Greg 12-17-08 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miz Odd-Reigh Phoenix, AZ 04-05-10
    Miz Odd-Reigh Phoenix, AZ 04-05-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    3
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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.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    workingmom Tulsa 03-05-08
    workingmom Tulsa 03-05-08 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
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    28
    4
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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 :).

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela Catirina Los Angeles, CA 02-11-15
    Angela Catirina Los Angeles, CA 02-11-15 Member Since 2015

    Catirina Bonet Designs

    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "A Favorite for a Lifetime..."

    To start with, Arthur Morey' s narration was spot on! I will look for more of his work after this. I am a huge John Irving fan. I love his honesty and candor. He has a very gritty, raw way of storytelling. My mother first read this book and recommended it to me saying that his exploration of the history of tattoo art fascinated her. It fascinated me too but, that and so much more. This was a refreshing departure for John Irving. His lead character, Jack, spends a lifetime traveling Canada, the United States, Europe and the Netherlands in search of more than he realizes throughout his journey. The writing allows the reader or listener to travel with him and in his search, we explore our own journeys. It is honest, brash, compelling story telling - one of Irving' s finest.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel 01-06-15
    Daniel 01-06-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    6
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    "Not my favourite John Irving novel"

    A long meandering tale that comes together beautifully, it just takes a long time to get there. Unlike most of John Irving's works there are many unrefined characters in this novel. I liked it, but there are other works if his that I've enjoyed so much more, it was still worth the time though.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Manning 08-01-13
    M. Manning 08-01-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    hariel 08-20-15
    hariel 08-20-15 Member Since 2015
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    "John Irving lover, but this is not the best one"

    It's a tremendously long build up and the closing is not quiet with it (though I will never forget Emma)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth J. Tarry-crowe Ann Arbor MI 08-01-15
    Elizabeth J. Tarry-crowe Ann Arbor MI 08-01-15

    Beer WenchA2

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "I'm a fan but this is not my favorite"

    John Irving is a story telling genius but while I enjoyed the narrator very much the narrative rambled way too much even for me a rabid fan of this author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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