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Publisher's Summary

A new moving novel of three men, each searching for something they have lost.

For Farouk, family is all. He has protected his wife and daughter as best he can from the war and hatred that has torn Syria apart. If they stay, they will lose their freedom, will become lesser persons. If they flee, they will lose all they have known of home, for some intangible dream of refuge in some faraway land across the merciless sea. 

Lampy is distracted; he has too much going on in his small town life in Ireland. He has the city girl for a bit of fun, but she's not Chloe, and Chloe took his heart away when she left him. There's the secret his mother will never tell him. His granddad's little sniping jokes are getting on his wick. And on top of all that, he has a bus to drive; those old folks from the home can't wait all day.

The game was always the lifeblood coursing through John's veins: manipulating people for his enjoyment, or his enrichment...or his spite. But it was never enough. The ghost of his beloved brother, and the bitter disappointment of his father, have shadowed him all his life. But now that lifeblood is slowing down, and he's not sure if God will listen to his pleas for forgiveness. 

Three men, searching for some version of home, their lives moving inexorably toward a reckoning that will draw them all together.

©2018 Donal Ryan (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Deeply moving and beautifully written.

Wow! I hardly know where to begin with this review.
I don’t write a lot of reviews, but I just had to with this book.
First of all, having listen to other books by the author, and seeing the list of amazing narrators, made this an automatic must listen.
I didn’t even need to listen to the sample, I just bought it.
From the very first line of Farouk’s story, I was completely engrossed in this book.

The author gives you a small glimpse into what it is like to live in a war torn country, and what makes people willing to risk everything for a better life.
Lampy, his mom, and grandfather seem to love and frustrate one another in equal measure.
John and Farouk Both experienced great life-changing tragedy that was beyond their control but each of them handled it quite differently.
I hope this isn’t too much of a spoiler, but John was really not a likable character.
He did so me pretty despicable things and hurt a lot of people.
That being said, I still felt sympathetic towards him and hoped he found The peas and absolution that he was desperately seeking.
I think that Gerard Doyles portrayal of John may be one of his best audio performances yet.
That’s saying a lot, because as I stated in another review, I would gladly listen to him read the phonebook.
All of the narrators did an outstanding job.
I am very glad that they chose to use multiple narrators for this book.
Each of them brought the characters to life.
Donal Ryan is a brilliant storyteller.
This book had the perfect balance of heart break and humor.
Until literally the last few minutes of the book, I could not see how he was going to bring these characters together.
In my opinion, this is his best book so far.
I hope it receives the attention it deserves here in the US.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kelly
  • Colorado Springs
  • 07-26-18

This beautiful book will wreck you.

A beautiful, lyrical, and gracefully written book! This is my first book written by Donal Ryan, but it will not be my last.

There are 3 protagonists. First we meet Farouk, a Syrian refugee hoping to escape his homeland with his wife and daughter. The depth and importance of this section of the book reminded me of some other recent reads, including Refugee by Gratz and Exit West by Hamid. For me it was the part of the book that I found most moving. It was gentle and emotional, and deeply tragic. It was an exploration of love and loss which brought tears to my eyes. At the end of this section when we moved on to meet the second protagonist I was very sad. I knew that I wanted more of his story. I cared deeply about what happened to him. For me, he was the heart of the novel.

Our second protagonist is a young Irish man named Lampy who is struggling to recover from a broken heart. He is a caretaker, who lives at home with his mother and grandfather. This section is sometimes sweet, often moving, and sometimes hilarious. I liked his story, but it seemed far more mundane and common then that of Farouk. Because of that Lampy was the most relatable for me as I have felt the same emotions at a time in my life when I was attempting to heal a broken heart.

Our third protagonist, John, is the least likable of the three. He is in his 40s, married to a woman whom he describes as thin lipped and wide hipped. They share three children. But he allows himself to fall in love with a much younger woman, and carries on an affair with her. When the affair fails he is angry and makes decisions that alter the course of many lives. He is not a nice man, but is a vivid character who is so well-drawn that he feels real. And somehow Ryan drew this unlikable man in such a way that I ended up hoping for him to fix the mess he made of his life.

At one point in the third section of the book I was starting to get angry at the author for devastating me by leaving Farouk at about page 50. But thankfully the last section devastated me in a completely different way. All of our characters are reintroduced and connected. I won't spoil the rest by saying any more. Rest assured, it is stunning, beautiful and will wreck you if you have a heart to be wrecked.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good not great for Ryan

Not a overwhelmingly compelling story but well crafted and written, divided into multiple character perspectives, that brings their actions together in the end, to me, not so inevitably. I read this novel in one sitting with the Audible performance accompanying. The performances were modulated and paced well. The voices were pleasant and cast carefully to the characters. Ryan is in my top ten of novelist. I have read all of his earlier works. FROM A LOW AND QUIET SEA seems formulaic—I hate to say that, maybe that is the form or structure. But there is a lot of spark in this story. It is like a moss-covered castle one see throughout Ireland, roofless, doorless, reigning in 1200 or so.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Poorly Produced. Blandly Written.

Normally I'm thrilled when I see a full cast recording for an audiobook. For me, that made this one an instant buy! However, I was left utterly disappointed. Multiple narrators I couldn't hear--their speech was whispery and low. No matter how loudly I turned up the volume, I struggled to understand their words. Also, the audio quality drastically varied from narrator to narrator.
Ultimately, this audiobook hindered my ability to enjoy this text, and unfortunately on top of this? The text was lacking. Donal Ryan has gorgeous skill sentence by sentence, but he lacks the ability to craft his stories outside of that pretty writing. This is a short book and it dragged on and on.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful