Review: A History of Loneliness

A History of Loneliness
A History of Loneliness by John Boyne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was deeply affecting. I had seen John Boyne at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival reduce the entire theatre to messy snuffly tears and had known in my soul that I was going to love it, but I was unprepared for the emotional reaction I had to actually reading it. The story of this lonely priest, the way that he is treated, the way that the senior people in the church behave and the outrageous way that they seem to live in denial of patent truth is so disturbing. I know that we all know that the Catholic church has behaved abominably, but this book is about the covering up of awfulness and the fact that they really believed that they were above the law and that it was a perfectly fine thing to go on abusing children as a matter of right. If you have seen Spotlight then you know what is going on, the moving of priests around parishes all the time so that they continued to put young people in danger and the complete absence of guilt that the church seems to have felt at their ongoing cover-ups. It is all just so horrific. It is also horrific that priests were basically forced into the priesthood as an expectation, forced to remain there even when they knew they shouldn’t be there and no help ever given to them so that they can be treated or rehabilitated. They’d have had better care in jail probably!

Anyway, the book is well written, very moving. And I just felt so sorry for this innocent man who failed to see what others knew, and whose whole life story is changed by the knowledge he eventually gains. Highly recommended.

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  1. I am going to get a copy for my Mum. She might get really uncomfortable I think, like one of those things where you see bad stuff happening but you can’t stop watching.

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