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HOME STRETCH BY GRAHAM NORTON

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

Click on each name to read the review. If you would like to become part of the Viking Book Club, sign up sign up here >>

REVIEWS

Joan Boyton

I have read the other two books by Graham Norton and really enjoy his style of writing. At first, I found the number of characters introduced at the beginning difficult to keep track of but gradually I was drawn into the story and couldn’t put the book down. You become invested in his characters and want to find out what happens to them. The secrets that destroy families and a community in rural Ireland are drawn so well and the differences between attitudes to gay men in the 20th and 21st century portrayed vividly. I wondered if some of it encompassed the author’s own experience growing up. The coming together of the community at the end with the gay wedding of Connor’s nephew Finbarr was a brilliant twist. You could definitely make a film out of this. Thank you for sending me this book, it was a joy to read.

Linda Cooper

There is a tense and gripping start to the novel which provides an opportunity to introduce the key characters and well describes the pain and loss of the individuals involved and the village community at large. About a third of the way in I thought my concerns that this would turn out to be a doom and gloom novel, with Connor and Ellen the two key characters unable to overcome past mistakes and continue to be victims were going to be fulfilled. However, from the point that the story takes up the characters’ lives as adults the novel picks up pace and becomes a real page turner to find out what happened next and the latest developments in the plot. The story weaves the characters together and in so doing the village community starts to heal as individuals develop understanding of themselves and others. Although the development of the plot is easy to second guess it does not diminish the overall enjoyment of the read, the characters are believable and without labouring the point Graham Norton uses the characters’ experiences to exemplify the changes between Ireland in the 80’s and the current day. A definite good read.

Elizabeth Dobbie

This is an easy-to-read story of rural Ireland. It shows typical feelings of families, their weaknesses, fears and personalities. A new twist at every turn. Couldn’t put it down until we had the whole story and even the last page left us with a question of how things would progress. Easy read.

Barbara Dobson

Starting with a heart-rending, horrific car crash, Norton stirs your emotions right from the start. The consequences of the crash take you through a detailed, in-depth story. It travels through 3 generations of the families and friends in one small village in Ireland, the implications getting deeper and more entangled, weaving a complicated and compelling story. Every emotion you have is tested – sadness, grief, bitterness, despair, empathy, sympathy and eventually hope, joy and happiness. The characters are life-like, their reactions, clothes and mannerisms so well described. The story travels through Ireland, the UK and USA. There are several twists and just as you think the story is ending, a new fact is revealed and off we go again! However, the story is also a vehicle to share the consequences of the intolerance of homosexuality in Ireland, only recently corrected. Acceptance is replicated in the book and the timeline used as chapter headings is useful. Norton uses his descriptive powers effectively so draw the reader into places and events without being verbose – just right to paint the scene. A great read and would recommend as a story with depth and is thought-provoking.

James Bird

I have to say that I found it rather trite and mawkish. It did nothing to address the awful prejudice and problems that gay men faced and still face. Unless Mr Norton lived in a different universe he must have experienced and witnessed many situations. It would have increased the depth and breadth of his novel if some of them could have been included.

Rita Crowe

As an avid reader of murder mysteries, with a plot, an event, an investigation and a final solution, I found this book a little strange to begin with. I kept thinking "what's the plot" but there didn't appear to be one. I persisted with the book to the end and by the time I was halfway through I started to see that this book didn't need a "plot", it was a novel about people, their feelings, the impact on others of the things people do, whether intended or not, and how life events shape a future for us all. So, by the end I realised that there was indeed a "plot" though not in the way I am used to reading them, but in the way that everything we do has an impact on our lives, our feelings, our families, friends and importantly the future of everyone. I actually enjoyed it; it grew on me the more I read of it. I can pick up and put down a murder mystery, and forget about it, but not Home Stretch, I will remember this one. It was well written, with a deep insight into people and their feelings and the impact on others of what they do. Recommended.

Steve Ellis

I must admit that I am always somewhat sceptical about TV/film celebrities turning their hand to writing a novel. However, I can safely say that in the case of Graham Norton’s Home Stretch, the book proves that some people can excel in more than one artistic genre! I was very quickly absorbed into the story that spans 30 years and follows Connor from Ireland to London and onto New York. Although not an autobiography there are clearly parallels between Graham Norton leaving an intolerant Irish village and Connor doing the same. The book sensitively shows how a community and the people within it can be shaped forever by one moment in time. I picked the book up and pretty much didn’t put it down again such was the quality of the writing and the depth of the emotions it explores. Suffice to say I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to my fellow Viking Book Club readers.