Synopses & Reviews
A warm and funny debut about a young man in trouble and a family in love and in pieces.
It's the first summer of lust for 14-year-old Jim Finnegan, a boy trying to become a man in 1980s Dublin. Jim's vivid and winning voice leaps off the page and into the reader's heart as he watches his parents argue, his five older sisters fight, and the local network of mothers gossip. Jim hilariously recounts his life dealing with the politics of his boisterous family, taking breakneck bike rides with his best friend, dancing to Foreigner on his boombox, and quietly coveting the local girls from afar.
Over the summer, Jim wins the attention of a beautiful older girl — but he also becomes the unwilling target of a devious religious figure in the community. His life starts to unravel as he faces consequences from both his love for his girlfriend and his attempts to avoid the Parish Priest. When he and his girlfriend take a ferry for a clandestine trip to London, the dark and difficult repercussions from the trip force Jim to look for the solution to all his problems in some very unusual places.
The Fields is an unforgettable story of an extraordinary character. It's a portrait of a boy who sinks into troubles as he grows into a man, and the loving but fractured family that might be his downfall-or his salvation. Lyrical, funny, and endlessly inventive, it is a brilliant debut from a remarkable new voice.
"This ambitious novel from Dublin-born, London-based journalist Maher observes its cheeky 14-year-old narrator Jim Finnegan's coming-of-age in mid-1980s Dublin with humor and verve. The youngest child of office-equipment salesman Matt and devoutly religious Devida, Jim has five sisters, but he is closest to Fiona. His life is blighted after the repulsive Father Luke O'Culigeen recruits Jim to serve as the parish altar boy, sexually abusing him until Jim's 'hard as nails' Aunty Grace comes to the rescue. Jim's own mistakes contribute to his troubles, as when his girlfriend, Saidhbh Donohue, a 'vision of pure beauty' four years his senior, announces she is pregnant. Meanwhile, his father is struck down with debilitating lymphoma. Feeling desperate, Jim decamps with Saidhbh to London, where Aunty Grace lives, and, in a far-fetched stab at finding the solution to everyone's problems, trains at the School of Astral Sciences to become a 'fully-fledged healing machine' with the ability to observe people's 'auric fields.' The strong voice Maher creates for his protagonist, rich with the slang of working-class Dublin, provides the most lasting impression in this solid debut. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic Inc." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"A joy to read: fresh, funny, moving, and always unexpected." Kate Atkinson, author of Life After Life and Case Histories