The O'Briens

The O'Briens

Book - 2012
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An unforgettable saga of love, loss, and exhilarating change spanning half a century in the lives of a restless family, from the author of the acclaimed novel The Law of Dreams.
The O'Briens is a family story unlike any told before, a tale that pours straight from the heart of a splendid, tragic, ambitious clan. In Joe O'Brien--grandson of a potato-famine emigrant, and a backwoods boy, railroad magnate, patriarch, brooding soul--Peter Behrens gives us a fiercely compelling man who exchanges isolation and poverty in the Canadian wilds for a share in the dazzling riches and consuming sorrows of the twentieth century.
When Joe meets Iseult Wilkins in Venice, California, the story of their courtship--told in Behrens's gorgeous, honed style--becomes the first movement in a symphony of the generations. Husband and wife, brothers, sisters-in-law, children and grandchildren, the O'Briens engage unselfconsciously with their century, and we experience their times not as historical tableaux but as lives passionately lived. At the heart of this clan--at the heart of the novel--is mystery and madness grounded in the history of Irish sorrow. The O'Briens is the story of a man, a marriage, and a family, told with epic precision and wondrous imagination.

Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2012.
ISBN: 9780307379931
Branch Call Number: FICTION Behrens Peter 02/2012
Characteristics: 384 p. ;,25 cm.


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Sensitive character development and well developed story line. Author knows his history and embeds plot lines in historical events. We really get an insight into the difficulties/threats of life in rural Canada and the stress of emigration.

Mar 04, 2012

Peter Behrens continues the family saga from "The Law of Dreams". For those who enjoy this genre it is an excellent read.

Sep 26, 2011

This is a continued story of the O'Brien family from the award winning book "The Law of Dreams" although it stands on its own quite nicely. Those who appreciate Peter Behrens writing will enjoy this book.

* Alta Vista Sep 20, 2011

Peter Behrens will be reading from The O'Briens at the Main Library, 120 Metcalfe St. on Tues, Oct 25th, 2011 12:00-1:00.
Don't miss this chance to meet the author!

Cdnbookworm Sep 10, 2011

This is the saga of Joe O'Brien and his family. It starts in the Pontiac region along the Ottawa River, but ranges across North America to the Canadian Rockies, to Venice Beach, California, and back again. Joe spends most of his married life in Montreal, as does one of his brothers. We see the strong feelings around families here with Joe's support for his siblings and theirs for him and his family. We see marital difficulties, influences of war, and the more mundane everyday aspects of life.
Joe is involved in the Canadian railway boom, the military industry of both World Wars, and construction of many infrastructure projects. He dreams big and yet sometimes doesn't know what he really wants. We see how people love each other, but don't always understand each other.
This is an engaging book, with characters that capture the imagination.

debwalker Jul 31, 2011

"in giving his family a past few of them knew existed, Behrens has made them unforgettably alive."
John Barber
Globe & Mail
July 29 2011


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