Walsh, John The Falling Angels

ISBN 13: 9780006531227

The Falling Angels

3.79 avg rating
( 28 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780006531227: The Falling Angels

An exuberant Angela’s Ashes meets When Did You Last See Your Father?; an intoxicating memoir of Ireland and being Irish (and Anglo-Irish as well) from one of literature’s most flamboyant characters.

John Walsh is one of literature’s party animals and ever-present commentators, and he writes with terrific wit and panache. The Falling Angels is a book about being Irish and about the way the Irish see the English and vice versa; and how it feels to fall in between. It opens with the death of Walsh’s mother, ‘the Widow of Oranmore’, as he learns the Irish Way of Death: ‘the rosaries and mass cards and lilies and amaryllises, the curious mixture of innocence and guile with which distant in-laws from Kerry and Dublin would coo and sigh and claim close friendship and act at being saints, the increasingly direct conversations that the neighbours (and I) had with Mother about death and what she could expect in Heaven. Above all, there was my mother’s own struggle with her growing doubts about God and the afterlife – she who had once been the Pope’s representative in Battersea.’

Every sentence Walsh writes is witty, outrageous, illuminating and compelling; he explores the Irish identity in a warm, personal and confessional book that takes in issues of race, of place, of language, of song, of love, of religion and, crucially, the changing nature of Ireland as it wriggles out of the dwindling influence of the church towards a new sense of itself; and in England, Irish culture has a fashionable ascendency (Angela’s Ashes, Father Ted) as indeed it always has had.

Stuffed like a barmbrack (fruitcake to you English) with quotations from Heaney, MacNeice, the Pogues and Paul Muldoon, it will be intensely personal, lively rather than gloomy, full of literary and historical relish, and a completely glorious read.

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Review:

‘A book to be relished’
WILLIAM TREVOR

‘The reader should be warned that this is a book that makes you laugh out loud in public. A magnificent entertainment’
Bernard O’Donoghue, Independent

‘The Falling Angels is a work of autobiography dominated by a single theme – the author’s love-hate relationship with his Irish-Catholic heritage. John Walsh’s father was a doctor from Galway and his mother was a nurse from Sligo. They came to England to find employment, met on a pilgrimage to Rome, married, and settled in the scruffy Battersea end of Clapham, where Walsh and his sister Madelyn were brought up… Anyone with even the slightest interest in or connection with Ireland will have a grand time with this book’
DAVID LODGE, SUNDAY TIMES

‘A beautifully written book, a family memoir which is moving, honest and funny by turns… the description of the terrible evening in which Walsh insists that his father, mother and a visiting priest and nun watch a film about Ireland – only to find that it contains an explicit and embarrassing sex scene – made me cry with laughter… Anyone who has visited Ireland, or grew up there will feel serial tremors of recognition at the details he describes’
JENNY MCCARTNEY, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

‘A warm, seamlessly well-written memoir… the prose is fluent, its craftsmanship meticulous. The dialogue is dead-on: the hungry father could “eat a reverend mother’s arse through a cane chair…” Walsh’s affection for his subject matter is infectious’
LIONEL SHRIVER, GUARDIAN

‘In an age of unreliable fake-Irish memoirs, John Walsh’s The Falling Angels convincingly and hilariously anatomises the uncertain identities of the émigré Irish middle class…’
ROY FOSTER, NEW STATESMAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR

From the Publisher:

From the reviews:
‘The reader should be warned that this is a book that makes you laugh out loud in public. A magnificent entertainment’ BERNARD O’DONOGHUE, INDEPENDENT

‘The Falling Angels is a work of autobiography dominated by a single theme – the author’s love-hate relationship with his Irish-Catholic heritage. John Walsh’s father was a doctor from Galway and his mother was a nurse from Sligo. They came to England to find employment, met on a pilgrimage to Rome, married, and settled in the scruffy Battersea end of Clapham, where Walsh and his sister Madelyn were brought up… Anyone with even the slightest interest in or connection with Ireland will have a grand time with this book’ DAVID LODGE, SUNDAY TIMES

‘A beautifully written book, a family memoir which is moving, honest and funny by turns… the description of the terrible evening in which Walsh insists that his father, mother and a visiting priest and nun watch a film about Ireland – only to find that it contains an explicit and embarrassing sex scene – made me cry with laughter… Anyone who has visited Ireland, or grew up there will feel serial tremors of recognition at the details he describes’ JENNY MCCARTNEY, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

‘A warm, seamlessly well-written memoir… the prose is fluent, its craftsmanship meticulous. The dialogue is dead-on: the hungry father could "eat a reverend mother’s arse through a cane chair"… Walsh’s affection for his subject matter is infectious’ LIONEL SHRIVER, GUARDIAN

‘In an age of unreliable fake-Irish memoirs, John Walsh’s The Falling Angels convincingly and hilariously anatomises the uncertain identities of the émigré Irish middle class…’ ROY FOSTER, NEW STATESMAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR

‘Walsh… writes beautifully and wittily. He has a gift for both conveying meaning with carefully observed detail and an encyclopaedic knowledge of our literary canon which he shares illuminatingly and without condescension… This is a wonderful book that rings more bells than the chiming of the Angelus across Ireland. Part autobiography, part travelogue, part history and sociology, it is always enthralling and I can’t recommend it highly enough’ PETER STANFORD, CATHOLIC HERALD

‘Into his memoir of growing up culturally ambivalent in South London, John Walsh manages to incorporate a kind of extended elegy for his parents, an evocation of the heady Connemara coast and a wry appraisal of Irish exorbitance. The Falling Angels is a high-spirited, often funny and extremely engaging exercise in autobiography’ PATRICIA CRAIG, MAIL ON SUNDAY

‘A fascinating account of growing up in Battersea and being caught between two cultures… Stylish, funny, touching, honest – it’s a memoir in which the characters populate every inch with stories’ BRIAN CASE, TIME OUT

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Walsh, John
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