The British Book Awards Book of the Year 2016.
Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2015. Shortlisted for the Independent Book Week Award 2016.
If it had another name, I never knew, but the locals called it the Loney - that strange nowhere between the Wyre and the Lune where Hanny and I went every Easter time with Mummer, Farther, Mr. and Mrs. Belderboss and Father Wilfred, the parish priest.
It was impossible to truly know the place. It changed with each influx and retreat, and the neap tides would reveal the skeletons of those who thought they could escape its insidious currents.
No one ever went near the water. No one apart from us, that is. I suppose I always knew that what happened there wouldn't stay hidden for ever, no matter how much I wanted it to. No matter how hard I tried to forget....
©2015 Andrew Michael Hurley (P)2015 Hodder & Stoughton
"Modern classics in this genre are rare, and instant ones even rarer; The Loney, however, looks as though it may be both." (Sunday Telegraph)
Writer and audiobook reviewer.
Every now and then an exceptional first novel like The Loney comes along. It's not easy to classify - it pares sliver after sliver from a psychological onion of a plot; it has elements of gothic creepiness, even horror; it gets inside a fanatical and unhappy group of people expecting a miracle from God... Binding everything together is the eerie, bleak sweep of 'wild and useless' coastline in north-east England with its treacherous tides which consume all in their path
The main events are set in 1976 when the middle-aged narrator Tonto was 15. His parents are part of an annual pilgrimage to a shrine accompanied by their Catholic priest who is replacing the much-loved Father who very recently died in mysterious circumstances. The group is riddled with tension and dissension, driven by Tonto's fervent mother who believes if they can but reach the shrine, God will cure the mutism of Hanny,Tonto's disturbed older brother. Tonto is Hanny's keeper and speaker, devoting his life to protecting him from himself and others, a role which becomes increasingly and frighteningly necessary as the unsettling tentacles of menace tighten their grip as the story progresses.
To describe further would be to give away the increasingly disturbing strands of the story, but what makes it satisfying is that the whole is soundly rooted in reality. The other striking element is the author's superb writing: eyes are 'glassy like the underside of a slug'; a 'squabble of little brown birds' disturb the sky; there are 'cochineal tears' on a figure of Christ'. There's humour too: the Priest relishing the food saying, 'There's no better way of serving the Lord than feeding a Priest!' or a priest being like a fish, 'immersion for life'.
The narration is excellent, capturing a whole raft of different characters, accents and changing moods.
The only criticism I have is not to do with the writer or the narrator, but with the flashback and flash-forward episodes which make up the whole. Because when listening you cannot see the breaks in the text which tell you the time sequence has changed, it is sometimes confusing to realise you as listener have been catapulted forward or backward. Some kind of indication to the listener was needed.
I recommend this one whole-heartedly!
I'm not one for writing reviews, but must for "The Loney". This is the best piece of fiction I have read in ages. So humane, intelligent, so thought-provoking, so insightful, so gripping, so well paces and plotted, so well written. Absolutely unputdownable/unswitchoffable. And in the audible version, so excellently narrated (which, unfortunately, is rarely the case with audio downloads). I am about to order the print version and start reading. This more than deserves the Costa prize, and should have been on the 2015 Mann Booker shortlist. Please read/listen!!!
Not sure? If I'd bought the hard copy I think I would have given up. Endless descriptions of landscape, religion and deeply boring characters. I felt the author was trying too hard to imbue the novel with something Brontesque and failed. The ending was unsatsfying with numerous strands left untied. The narrator, however, was superb. The only redeeming feature.
Would gladly listen to any of his narrations.
All of them.
This book is written beautifully. The phrases, observations and descriptions of the people and beach and the sea around Morcombe bay are wonderful and evocative. The dissection of the relationships within the group is acute and peceptive. The use of flashbacks occasionally gets confusing but the story continues to its conclusion in a non linear slightly dark way. Not a gory blood spattered horror by any means more a "tales of the unexpected". Absolutely loved it. Iain
The combination of a beautifully written, understated style of writing; haunting images and a superb narrator kept me listening when I should have been doing other things! Now that I am finished the book, I find that aspects of the story keep on flitting into my mind, and while I consider them, I realize that the book is much more multi-faceted than I expected. There is the gothic aspect, and some supernatural incidents that are hinted at by the genre of the book. Then there is the human drama of a community caught up in issues of faith and family. Finally, there is a hint of humour in the parochial characters. I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy crime and thrillers, to those who appreciate the bizarre, and to those who enjoy books that question our basic values and religion.
This book is a worthy award winner, but I suspect that if I'd read it as opposed to listen to it, I wouldn't be giving it 5 stars all round. The storyline itself is just not quite believable enough. BUT.... in this audio version the narration is outstanding; the atmospheric location and all the characters are alarmingly brought to life and the suspense generated as a result is sometimes palpable. Highly recommended.
active dog walker
After reading other reviews I couldn't wait to download this book. I appreciate that it's award winning but I only managed to struggle through the first third before giving up on it. I found it so slow that it was going nowhere. Certainly wouldn't be one that I'd recommend.
If you like Jon McGregor's writing you should try this. It has all his patience, perceptiveness & humanity; it also has a tiny hint of horror, quite a lot of menace; some strong story-telling: like Stephen King! I really loved this book. I hope there will be plenty more from Andrew Michael Hurley
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