Synopses & Reviews
Set in Boston at the end of the First World War, New York Times
bestselling author Dennis Lehane's long-awaited eighth novel unflinchingly captures the political and social unrest of a nation caught at the crossroads between past and future.
Filled with a cast of unforgettable characters more richly drawn than any Lehane has ever created, The Given Day tells the story of two families — one black, one white — swept up in a maelstrom of revolutionaries and anarchists, immigrants and ward bosses, Brahmins and ordinary citizens, all engaged in a battle for survival and power. Beat cop Danny Coughlin, the son of one of the city's most beloved and powerful police captains, joins a burgeoning union movement and the hunt for violent radicals. Luther Laurence, on the run after a deadly confrontation with a crime boss in Tulsa, works for the Coughlin family and tries desperately to find his way home to his pregnant wife.
Here, too, are some of the most influential figures of the era — Babe Ruth; Eugene O'Neill; leftist activist Jack Reed; NAACP founder W. E. B. DuBois; Mitchell Palmer, Woodrow Wilson's ruthless Red-chasing attorney general; cunning Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge; and an ambitious young Department of Justice lawyer named John Hoover.
Coursing through some of the pivotal events of the time — including the Spanish Influenza pandemic — and culminating in the Boston Police Strike of 1919, The Given Day explores the crippling violence and irrepressible exuberance of a country at war with, and in the thrall of, itself. As Danny, Luther, and those around them struggle to define themselves in increasingly turbulent times, they gradually find family in one another and, together, ride a rising storm of hardship, deprivation, and hope that will change all their lives.
"In a splendid flowering of the talent previously demonstrated in his crime fiction (Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River), Lehane combines 20th-century American history, a gripping story of a family torn by pride and the strictures of the Catholic Church, and the plot of a multifaceted thriller. Set in Boston during and after WWI, this engrossing epic brings alive a pivotal period in our cultural maturation through a pulsing narrative that exposes social turmoil, political chicanery and racial prejudice, and encompasses the Spanish flu pandemic, the Boston police strike of 1919 and red-baiting and anti-union violence.Danny Coughlin, son of police captain Thomas Coughlin, is a devoted young beat cop in Boston's teeming North End. Anxious to prove himself worthy of his legendary father, he agrees to go undercover to infiltrate the Bolsheviks and anarchists who are recruiting the city's poverty-stricken immigrants. He gradually finds himself sympathetic to those living in similar conditions to his fellow policemen, who earn wages well below the poverty line, work in filthy, rat-infested headquarters, are made to pay for their own uniforms and are not compensated for overtime. Danny also rebels by falling in love with the family's spunky Irish immigrant maid, a woman with a past. Danny's counterpart in alienation is Luther Laurence, a spirited black man first encountered in the prologue when Babe Ruth sees him playing softball in Ohio. After Luther kills a man in Tulsa, he flees to Boston, where he becomes intertwined with Danny's family. This story of fathers and sons, love and betrayal, idealism and injustice, prejudice and brotherly feeling is a dark vision of the brutality inherent in human nature and the dire fate of some who try to live by ethical standards. It's also a vision of redemption and a triumph of the human spirit. In short, this nail-biter carries serious moral gravity. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[S]tunning....[A] majestic, fiery epic that moves [Lehane] far beyond the confines of the crime genre....The Given Day is a huge, impassioned, intensively researched book that brings history alive by grounding the present in the lessons of the past." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Lehane masterfully blends his stories....Lehane captures the sense of a country coming of age, vividly dramatizing how the conflicting emotions and tortured dreams that drive individual human lives also send a nation roiling forward." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[A] clear winner, displaying all the virtues the author has shown in his exceptional series of crime novels....Lehane's long-awaited eighth novel is as good as it gets." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"This may be Lehane's finest work. His understanding of history, mixed with his skill as a writer...brings alive a period that sounds like the early 21st century....Lehane captures the essence of being American in a fast-changing society that eerily reflects our own." USA Today
"The Given Day serves up the historical novel's signature pleasures: sweeping narrative, period detail, entertaining cameos by real-life figures and the thrill of not knowing what's going to happen even when you know what's going to happen." The Chicago Tribune
"Despite its length and gargantuan scope of emotion and sociological ramifications, The Given Day is a smooth read....[It] may not pack the devastating wallop of Marquand's masterwork Point of No Return, but it should draw unintended strength from the latter's title." Sarah Weinman, The Los Angeles Times
"[A] rip-roaring [novel], packed with vivid characters and suspenseful action....[A] meticulously researched tale that in the hands of this master storyteller jumps right off the page and hollers." St. Petersburg Times
"Steeped in history but wearing its research lightly, The Given Day is a meaty, rich, old-fashioned and satisfying tale. I'd call it Lehane's masterpiece, but he's still young and, it is devoutly to be wished, ready to give us much more." Seattle Times
"Rollicking, brawling, gritty, political, and always completely absorbing, The Given Day is a rich and satisfying epic. Readers, get ready to feast. This is a big book you won't want to put down." Stewart O'Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster, A Prayer for the Dying, and Snow Angels
Set at the end of the Great War, The Given Day offers an unflinching, utterly spectacular family epic that captures the political unrest of a nation caught between a well-patterned past and an unpredictable future.
From Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Mystic River and Shutter Island, comes the paperback edition of The Given Day, an unflinching family epic that captures the political unrest of a nation caught between a well-patterned past and an unpredictable future. This beautifully written novel of American history tells the story of two families—one black, one white—swept up in a maelstrom of revolutionaries and anarchists, immigrants and ward bosses, Brahmins and ordinary citizens, all engaged in a battle for survival and power at the end of World War I.
About the Author
Dennis Lehane is the author of A Drink Before the War, which won the Shamus Award for Best First Novel; Darkness, Take My Hand; Sacred; Gone, Baby, Gone; Prayers for Rain; and the New York Times bestsellers Mystic River and Shutter Island. A native of Dorchester, Massachusetts, he lives in the Boston area.