A Mad and Wonderful Thing

madMark Mulholland

First Sentence:     I was six years old when I watched the gun go into Dad’s mouth.

Back of the book:

In this passionate and heart-wrenching debut novel by Irish writer Mark Mulholland, we meet Johnny Donnelly – an intense young man who is in love with books, with his country, and with the beautiful Cora Flannery. But in his dark and secret other life he shoots British soldiers: he is an IRA sniper. How can this be? As his two worlds inevitably move towards a dramatic collision, Johnny takes us on a journey through the history, legends, and landscapes of his beloved Ireland. In the end, Johnny has to make sense of his inheritance and his life, and he does so in a riveting, redemptive, and unforgettable climax. Told in Johnny’s unique voice, and peopled by a cast of extraordinary characters, A Mad and Wonderful Thing tells its tale lightly, but pulls a heavy load. It takes us beyond the charming, familiar, and often funny experiences of everyday life to the forces that bind people together, and that set them against each other – and to the profound consequences of the choices that they make.

Quotes from the book:

“No man ever wore a cravat as beautiful as his own child’s arm around his neck.”

“And who are the Normans,” I go on, “but the Norse and the Danes speaking French? And who are English? They, too, are an invention – a Celtic, Roman, Friesian, Saxon, Norse, French invention. Two inventions fighting each other for identity. Beneath our Irish and our English veneer, we are all someone else. And what are we fighting for? We are fighting for an island that was forged from two continents, an island that was buried below the seas, that belongs not to any one place on the Earth, that will be lost again below northern ice, that is on its way to nowhere. Nations don’t exist, Chief. We come and we go. The whole thing is mad.”

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Last Sentence:     “Haven’t we all the time in the world?”