Seamus - Belfast....
I don’t really read that much but I was recommended the book Fergal Flynn by a friend and I have not been able to put it down. I am from North Belfast and can relate to a lot of the emotions Fergal Flynn encountered within the book. It is absolutely fantastic reading. Have just finished it and I’m about to start Roman song. Really hope that’s as good. Honestly can’t get over it.
FANTASTIC. Anyone reading this message, BUY THE BOOK!!!
Margaret, Northern Ireland......
This novel really captured me from start to finish. It was packed with feelings and emotions. I could only imagine what it would have been like living on the Falls Road, belonging to a family who do not value or support you, being singled out at school because you were gay and surviving through the troubles. I think it may have been 'Hell on earth'!
I couldn't help wondering how much of Fergal's story was in fact reality for Brian. This book is amazing and I can't wait to finish his second novel, can't seem to put it down.
I normally don't read novels, more biography's and Spiritual books. I'm hooked now and hope Brian will continue with Fergal's journey! Thanks Brian for a brilliant read!
Having almost despaired of ever finding Brian's first novel in a bookshop here in the UK, the overlong period of anticipation of reading the book could very easily have led me to being disappointed. However, I needn't have worried.
I should say for the record that I am not much of a reader these days, this being only the third novel I've read this year (the other two both being by the hugely under-rated Patrick Gale). It is therefore something of an event for me to finish a book in less than two days. This was just gripping stuff from the start. Although I've never yet set foot in any part of Ireland, the picture of Belfast that Brian paints is totally believable. The inevitable questions as to how much of this is autobiographical are ultimately irrelevant, simply because this just feels totally real. I may well have cried whilst watching a film before but I cannot recall ever crying (repeatedly!) whilst reading a book and usually just moments after chuckling to myself - thank God I was reading this at home, alone. Apart from anything else, the more passionate moments in the book are just not the kinds of things to read on the bus or train home. It was also totally refreshing to read love scenes between men that were quite obviously based on that troublesome four letter word 'love' and not the usual 'wham, bam' all or nothing sex that seems to be what gay men are supposed to be all about in most people's minds.
The fact that is most amazing to me is that this is Brian's first book. If he can write this well, then why on earth has he left it this long to try? Okay, there is that amazing voice to consider but I for one can't wait to read the next instalment. I guess that is one of the few benefits about getting to read this book so late - I'll get to read the new episodes of Fergal's life within a few days. Can't wait!
I wish to put on record: I was on a very high-powered mission to London yesterday.......I picked up this book at the airport, having had no idea that Mr. Kennedy was a novelist. My day was fantastic because: I laughed, I cried and Brian expressed so many things that I have never been able to. I wish I was Father Mac (Dermot).
Vincent Creelan....Belfast, N.Ireland
This book touched me in many respects. As a gay man living in Belfast, now and at the times described when Fergal Flynn walked the streets of Belfast and fell in love with Father Mac. As a gay man who had to deal with being seen as different at school and work, not fitting into the norm that society had for me. As a gay man who's father was a brutal man, intolerant of difference and disappointed in his son. So the story as it developed touched me, and I am certain it has done so with many gay men (and their mothers, brothers, sisters & friends)....there is a real resonance of the truth, an experience common to many.
The description of Belfast, the attitude of working families to the church/state/education/drink/family/work/the army etc really does set the scene at that time without overstating it...without exaggeration, and yet the reality of a very different life to that experienced by kids of Fergal's generation in the rest of the UK is clearly defined. Then there is the challenge by Brian Kennedy and bravery too, to set the core of the gay relationship, between that of a younger man and a priest. At first when you realize the developing situation you shudder thinking at the possibilities....but then the heart of the story, the characters themselves...the truth of love between people, whether they choose it or as more often than not, it makes the choice for them....comes to life. The detail of emotions that gay men experience, the love and passion, tenderness of a friendship that becomes so much more, despite the risks is gripping.
This book does not hide from what really can and does happen to people when life challenges them to be themselves and when that happens it doesn't matter who you are or what position in life you hold.
I loved this book as well for the black humour, for its examination the bitter reality of the what family relations can be, language as it was and is spoken today, the contrast between lives and culture even within a community, and for its revelation of the choices life can offer when the luck is with you and when others care enough to listen and help make things happen.
This book takes on so many issues in our society which are as important no less today than in the early 80's, and shows how despite the bitter pains of circumstance beyond our control there is always a chance to make a difference, have a better life, be more than we might be otherwise. I look forward to a reading more about the lives of the characters in Brian Kennedy's first novel. More than that, when does this go on to the stage or screen?
Overall a great read....funny, hard, sad. honest...... and something of a nail bitter towards the end as we desperately want nothing to ruin the plans and hopes of two lovers.
What a great read, every time I put my book down, I was longing to pick it up again, to see what Fergal was up to. I really enjoyed Brian's first novel and hope he has many more tales to tell us. Many thanks to Brian and also to Jane for all your hard work.
"Fergal Flynn" arrived in Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday, 8 September '04 and temporarily took over my life! Priorities changed as 'work' moved from first to last in the order of things and I embarked on my personal "roller coaster ride of emotions" (to coin Brian's own phrase).
Thursday is a blur of alternately sniffing away tears and stifling bursts of laughter, no doubt convincing other commuters on the 370 between Leichhardt and Newtown that I'd been let out on 'day release' and couldn't cope! Now, three days later, feeling a little more stable, I've managed to gather my thoughts together on the effect of the book.
First impression was what a great presentation - clean looking, simple cover; clear print and layout, at the same time warm and inviting - rather like its author come to think of it!
On the back cover the description reads: ""Funny, tender and unflinching..", to which I 'd add: "Heart-rendingly honest and brave". I say brave, because in this, his very first book, Brian has confronted head-on every controversial subject that has plagued man through the ages and for which many a great writer or artist has suffered unduly for similar outspokenness.
Whether writing a song, short story, or book, Brian takes a paint brush to words and creates indelible images in the mind. These characters are real. We all surely know, or know of, a Fergal Flynn or Father Mac, along with all the others. Whether it's in music or writing, Brian moves up and down the tone scale of emotions, mirrored here in the human reaction of the characters as each individual's behaviour reflects either the best of humanity at the top of the scale or the very worst at the bottom; the sad truth being that there's a bit of everything in each of us. Whether it's autobiographical or not is irrelevant. This book is about life and real people, portrayed with great sensitivity, and who of us hasn't experienced part or all of it at some time in our lives.
I think Brian has made a real contribution to literature here, with a refreshing look at all-important aspects of present day society; for instance, the vivid background picture he paints of life for the people of Belfast in that particular period. Hopefully he'll get the recognition he deserves. And while global violence currently rages, this is probably the best chance we'll get to rid ourselves of past bigotry, hypocrisy and violence and start doing something constructive to nurture the good in man as seen through the arts.
Brian has commented, both in the DVD documentary and the book, on the notion of "trying to make something beautiful out of something ugly". For me, that 's exactly what he's achieved in this book. He's taken what have been considered 'taboo' subjects - too ugly to confront - and injected them with a sensitivity and dignity that is beautiful. In my estimation, it's a brilliantly written and inspiring book. Fergal Flynn" I'm sure is here to stay and it would seem that Brian has just started on a new journey as a distinguished author.
So, thank you for the beauty and dignity of "Fergal Flynn" and all the very best Brian. Julia
Well what can I say...........in a mere 10 hours I smiled, cried, laughed out loud, blushed and even spoke back to a book!!!!
I arrived home yesterday after I picked up the kids from school - and found Fergal lying behind the front door. (Thanks Jane). I opened the envelope and sat down - I began to read. The kids were hungry - So, with book in one hand, I opened the fridge door - looking for things that I could cook one-handed, because I was hooked already!
I read well into the night - dear husband lying snoring next to me - I woke him sometimes with a shriek of laughter, or by talking back to the typed pages - I felt my face redden like a teenager as the 'pace' picked up.
By 2 am the matchsticks were no longer working, but I was determined not to fall asleep. The end came all too soon........and I had to say goodbye to Fergal.
Fantastic novel Brian - great reading, everyone and everywhere seemed so real. Thank you so much.......x
Many thanks for the book. I have just finished reading it and am pondering what Fergal is up to now. For one thing I am sure he it is tiny bit warmer in Rome than it is here!
The way Brian has portrayed Fergal it is as if he really exists . All through the book I just wanted to keep on reading to know what Fergal was up to, how he was and how he was feeling. The language used is perfect - sometimes beautiful and sometimes a bit raw, but let's face it - nothing worse than I hear in the school playground. (And that's just the infant school!). Reading the book it was as if I was really there. The characters were all so real and the places and situations so well portrayed.
At some points I felt I had to keep on reading - I just couldn't leave Fergal in that state, I had to read on until he was in a happier frame of mind....despite their protests it was unlikely that my kids would starve in the time it took to read a couple more pages and put my mind at rest! Fergal needed me more than they did!
The book has made me laugh out loud and brought me close to tears and very few books have ever achieved that. I think we can safely say it is a success! Brian is an extremely talented man. Jackie.
Please thank Brian for the book. Wonderful stuff and well written. I enjoyed if very, very much.
WOW!! What a book!
I received my long anticipated copy on Friday 3 September (an extremely busy day with work and a colleagues wedding to contend with meant a late night). Arriving home, stone cold sober, in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I grabbed the debut novel of the fabulous Brian Kennedy and got totally engrossed. Hour after hour passed by until I finally had to surrender to sleep. Awaking, in almost the same position I passed out in, novel by my side I continued to read forgetting about the world around me and taking an intimate trip in the world of the dear Fergal Flynn.
Being part of this funny, sexual and at times heartbreaking adventure got emotions within me stirring that have never been touched by a novel before. I physically laughed and cried and was very glad to be reading on my own. The story is told with such a passion that it keeps you turning the pages without a thought to the world outside.
I finished the book that evening (less than 24 hours after starting it – and that’s not bad for someone who takes weeks/months to read a book) and felt a sense of loss because it was finished, I had become so attached to Fergal and Father Mac, it was like losing a friend. I have since started it again and am reading it much slower this time so I can spend more time in Fergal’s world. If you haven’t got your copy yet, go out and get one and take a ride with Fergal on a roller coaster of emotion. Don’t miss out.
All that is left to say is Brian, Thank you very much for producing such a fantastic novel, It is first class, you are a natural storyteller. Roll on the next novel.
In the second week of my holiday at the end of August my mind was becoming more and more distracted by the thought of getting my hands on BK’s first novel - The Arrival Of Fergal Flynn. Everyone else fantasized about getting home to their own bed, proper milk, and a descent cup of tea.
Quicker than I could dust the sand out of my flip flops, I was in my car and on my way to Belfast to buy the book.
After a quick browse I spotted the familiar cover from about 10 feet away. Walking slowly to the shelf I savoured every moment before I lifted the book from the bulging shelves. I knew once I had the book in my hands there was no going back, and my life would be on hold until I had every word read.
Walking towards the pay point I started to read. My eyes doing a little quick step over every word. On nearing the cash register I fumbled in my bag for money, and handed it to the shop assistant without lifting my head. Nearing the end of the first chapter, I thought it might be a good idea to take my change, receipt and leave the counter as a large queue was ever growing behind be!
On walking through the city centre back to my car I was still reading, negotiating my way around other shoppers, babies in buggies, traffic lights, not even stopping to admire the lovely half-price pair of raspberry coloured knee high boots with the tiny buckle detail in the shop window!
Soon I was on the motorway on my way home, still trying to get another few lines read as I drove. I know, not very sensible at all! So I just decided to ring half the country screaming ‘I’ve got it, I’ve got it!!!! I’ve just got Fergal Flynn!!’
The rest of my day was pretty much the same. I read while I cooked, I read in the bath. I even wandered into the garage for a while laughing hysterically at the raw Belfast humour. Being transported back to the eighties a real trip down memory lane, when dancing around your shoes and handbag was the law!
I then took sanctuary on the comfort of my bed as things got more serious, so I could muffle out my sobs on the pillow as I read.
I was barely able to keep my eyes open, but I just couldn’t put my book down. I did try a few times to sleep but, I loved Fergal and I was worried about him, so I wanted to stick with it until the last page.
As the romance stepped up a gear, things really got very hot and steamy! As I leafed through the pages of explicit sex, I felt like an intruder walking in on something very intimate and special. It was beautifully written and very sexy! After a cold shower to settle my racing pulse I got back into bed to further my reading.
At about 2.30 am I came to the last page. I knew I would never be able to sleep now. I was so reved up I could have suck started a Harley Davidson!! But my mind was just buzzing with questions and what ifs. In one sense I was glad so I could find out what happened, but on the other I wanted it to go on forever. I just didn’t want to say goodbye to Fergal just yet.
This is the first time I have read a whole novel the same day I bought it. Its an incredible story. It’s sad, funny, totally believable.. A real tell it how it is story. Brilliant!!