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Jamie O'Neill: At Swim, Two Boys

Jamie O'Neill: At Swim, Two Boys

UK 2017, 643 pp., brochure, € 17.95
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Set in Dublin and its near surround the novel follows the year to Easter 1916, the time of Ireland's brave but fractured uprising against British rule. At its core it tells the love of two boys, Jim, a naive and reticent scholar, the younger son of foolish, aspirant shopkeeper Mr Mack, and Doyler, the dark rough diamond son of Mr Mack's old army pal. Out at the Forty Foot, the great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the scandalous nude, the two boys meet day after day. There they make a pact: that Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year hence they will swim the bay to the distant beacon of the Muglins rock, there to raise the Green and claim it for their country, and for themselves. As Ireland sets forth towards her uncertain glory there unfolds a love story of the utmost tenderness, carrying the reader through the turbulence of the times like a full-blown sail.
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