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Publisher's Summary

The riveting narrative of an honorable Irish priest who finds the church collapsing around him at a pivotal moment in its history.

Propelled into the priesthood by a family tragedy, Odran Yates is full of hope and ambition. When he arrives at Clonliffe Seminary in the 1970s, it is a time in Ireland when priests are highly respected, and Odran believes that he is pledging his life to "the good."

Forty years later, Odran's devotion is caught in revelations that shatter the Irish people's faith in the Catholic Church. He sees his friends stand trial, colleagues jailed, the lives of young parishioners destroyed, and he grows wary of venturing out in public for fear of disapproving stares and insults. At one point, he is even arrested when he takes the hand of a young boy and leads him out of a department store while looking for the boy's mother.

But when a family event opens wounds from his past, he is forced to confront the demons that have raged within the church and to recognize his own complicity in their propagation, within both the institution and his own family.

A novel as intimate as it is universal, A History of Loneliness is about the stories we tell ourselves to make peace with our lives. It confirms John Boyne as one of the most searching storytellers of his generation.

©2015 John Boyne (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved. Produced by arrangement with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Emotional and Powerful

Wow, what a compelling book ! I was completely pulled into the story, empathizing with the characters, especially Odran, the first person narrator. This is a tough topic to write about. John Boyne is a fabulous writer, and listening to this book was a very emotional experience. Excellent narration by Gerard Doyle. He really personified the character of Odran.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

History of Loneliness - Excellent.

Yes. The book met my expectations. The narrator did a fine job of telling the story. The story itself gave voice to s lot of half understandings on sex, religion and being of Irish descent. Riveting and well told.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Elephant in the living room

exceptional story. exceptional writing. He somehow spends most the prose talking around the issue. The expertly and tastefully lays it all out.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kathy
  • Davis, CA, United States
  • 09-12-17

A Profound and Moving Listen

Do you recognize the author, John Boyne? He wrote The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I did not know that when I started listening to this novel. If you are familiar with the Pajamas book or movie, you know this author does not shy away from painful or difficult subjects but at the same time can produce a thing of beauty.

This book is autobiographical fiction. The protagonist, Odran Yates, is an Irishman, who at the start of the novel, enters the seminary after his mother convinces him he has the calling to become a priest. He is most likely susceptible to this suggestion, not because he always wanted to be a priest, but because of his painful and very difficult childhood. Entering the seminary as a teenager, he shares his first room with Tom Cardle, who becomes his lifelong friend.

This book addresses pedophilia in the Roman Catholic church in Ireland. It also will give you an idea of how such atrocities could occur in what should have been such a holy environment. The knowledge will not condone such behaviors, but give a more in depth understanding of some of the mechanisms.

Father Yates sees himself, through most of the story, as very unsophisticated and naive. Sometimes, I wanted to scream at him. It is not til toward the end of the book that he realizes that he too has played a role in the atrocities. Was it naivete or just putting his head in the sand?

I found myself very much enjoying the Yates persona despite his failings. I felt many emotions as I listened to this book. It is beautifully written and packs a punch.

And of course, we all should know what a pure gem narrator Gerard Doyle is. Doyle along with author, John Boyne, give you A History of Loneliness, a truly unforgettable audiobook. Don't let preconceived notions prevent you from getting it.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Thoughtful Piece with Little Plot

My current fascination with the narrator Gerard Doyle is sending me off in some unexpected directions. I doubt if I would ever have noticed this book if it were not for the narrator.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. Because in spite of the fact that this book, has no discernable plot, I found the author's style and prose very appealing. I will likely read other books by Boyne. So for that reason alone, reading this was worth it.

This tells the story of a Catholic priest in Ireland who entered the priesthood in the 1970s, a couple of decades before all hell broke loose within the Catholic church due to the sexual abuse and pedophile scandal that shook the church in Ireland even more than it did in the US. The narrator was not a pedophile and did not participate in any illegal or immoral activity. But he implicitly endorsed the behavior by choosing to ignore it and by failing to recognize the obvious activity going on right before his eyes, even when it involves a member of his own family.

Father Yates, the narrator is essentially a "good" man at least as respects his personal behavior. He is also genuinely likeable but not a sympathetic man, because no one as gullible and intentionally ignorant as he is can be sympathetic. He had a difficult childhood, a family full of mental illness and an overbearing mother who pushed him into the priesthood, although he seemed well suited for it. But none of this excuses his behavior.

And it was not just the sexual abuse of children he turned a blind eye to. He realized that the Church leadership suffered from extreme misogyny all the way to the top, that they had been able to bully their way out of any scandal for so long, that they had become inured to the suffering of others and were acting like immature children, once they were called to task for their excesses. He knew all this, complained to himself about it, but made no effort to call attention to the problems or attempt to solve them.

The book paints a very unflattering picture of the Catholic Church. But no more unflattering than the picture the real news has portrayed in the last two decades. I don't know how accurate the impressions about the last few Popes are, but it was interesting to read about them.

I did like the ending. It was rather abrupt but Yates was finally slapped with the hard truth of his quiet compliance in the scandal and the cover up and you sensed that what happened next was he spent the rest of his life grappling with his own cowardice.

Doyle toned his narration way back for this book. He matched the tone and the subject matter.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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WOW!!

This book was great! I really enjoy books that are about controversial topics. This one was well written and the performance was spot on!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The Great Silence

Such a harrowing book covering the sex scandals in the Catholic Church in Ireland. Definitely gives you an idea of how the Catholic Church did and didn't treat accusations against priests when the scandals were at their peak and how innocents priests may feel about them. Riveting story!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Another powerful story by John Boyne

The story is slow in starting. The plot is hard to follow with seemingly unrelated flashbacks and not in chronological order. The narrator's unmodulated, almost whining voice doesn't help.
2/3 into the story, however, things began falling into place and John Boyne picked up in his typical captivating style.(As if the first part had been written by another author). Then I totally loved the denouement.
When did numerous flashbacks become desirable in a book? I was warned against it when I started writing.
I had bought this audible and read its summary a good a few weeks before actually listening to the story. It may have helped to get through the fist part better if I had had that summary fresher in my head.
I've become a big John Boyne fan and the strong ending of this book redeemed it, hence the 4 starts from me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Barbara
  • Albany, NY, United States
  • 06-17-16

More about community than loneliness

Although the subject is painful - sexual abuse of children in the Catholic church - I enjoyed this book very much. Filled with interesting characters, both flawed and sympathetic, the story is believable and well-written.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The man in the mirror!

I love this book, but also struggled with it. The subject was one we have all read, heard and decided on. The story ask us to question our understanding and implicit selves. If we are going to see and never left a finger because it's not my place, then do we really care? The decisions we make affect many as well as ourselves.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful