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March 24, 2019


#Ireland John Boyne

by N@ncy

Shortlisted books:  read 3/5


  1. The story of one man’s cut-throat path to literary stardom
  2. starts impressively but then the author loses his way.
  4. “When the gods wish to punish us
  5. …..they answer our prayers.” (pg 124)


Part One: Before the Wall Came Down:

  1. Maurice’s journey through 8 cities
  2. …with mentor Erich Ackermann (66 yr)


Interlude: The Swallow’s Nest

  1. Maurice’s vist with Gore Vidal.
  2. The title of this chapter refers to Gore Vidal’s villa in Ravello ‘La Rondinaia’
  3. The Swallow’s Nest’ was built in 1925 on the Amalfi coast
  4. Vidal bought the villa 1972.

Part Two: The Tribesman (best-seller)

  1. Maurice’s marriage to Edith and the 8 months
  2. leading up to the publication on his best-seller.


Interlude: The Threatened Animal

  1. 10 years later
  2. …1 child (Daniel), 2 new books published
  3. Maurice is founder and editor-in-chief
  4. …of a  NYC literary magazine.
  5. Backstory: Maurice’s childhood
  6. The story kicks into high gear!
  7. This chapter is the turning point!
  8. Maurice has married Edith
  9. ….but she is about to tell him the ugly truth!
  10. Can Maurice find redemption
  11. …or does he continue with his relentless pursuit of fame?


Part Three: Other People’s Stories

  1. Maurice’s meetings in 6 pubs
  2. with the thesis student,Theo Field
  3. …and Daniel’s ghost. (his son)
  4. Part 3: “Other People’s Stories” was a tour de force!.
  5. John Boyne uses  a clever maneuver (technique)
  6. in handling a difficult situation
  7. while giving the novel a satisfying ending
  8. ….a sense of justice.
  9. Extraordinary!
  10. Title: A Ladder in the Sky is a metaphor for the
  11. Main theme:  ambition
  12. “…it’s like setting a ladder to the sky
  13. …pointless waste of energy.” (pg 304)


Strong point:

  1. Character:
  2. Boyne developed a complex, ambitious writer…Maurice Swift.
  3. Boyne creates a push and pull in the story.
  4. Maurice bounces off characters
  5. …who are generous and loving.
  6. This is the tension that starts the problems
  7. …drives the plot with twists and turns
  8. …and makes this book a page-turner!
  9. The ultimate resolution…a feeling of closure.



  1. This book WILL WIN the prize
  2. ….Kerry Group Irish Novel of 2019!
  3. I am a difficult reader to please when it
  4. comes to contemporary fiction.
  5. But I did NOT SKIM one word of the story.
  6. The reader will be mesmerized by
  7. …devastating effects of ambition.
  8. This book is absolutely brilliant!


Last thoughts:

  1. John Boyne is the discovery of my #ReadingIrelandMonth19.
  2. He wrote  the best-seller Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in 2006
  3. …but I was more impressed by the story
  4. instead of investigating the author.
  5. Boyne has continued to write 5 star books!
  6. The Ladder to the Sky was excellent
  7. …my best 2019 read so far.
  8. Pay close attention to what you’re reading
  9. …and even closer attention
  10. …to what you may be missing.
  11. #SupriseEnding
Read more from fiction, Ireland
7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mar 24 2019

    May have to check this out! Do you have Normal People in the queue? I’m interested in that one, too–she’s coming to Toronto to give a talk in a month or so.


    • Mar 24 2019

      John Boyne is the discovery of my #ReadingIrelandMonth19. He wrote in 2006n the best-seller “Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”..but I was more impressed by the story instead of investigating the author. He has continued to write 5 star book! The Ladder to the Sky was excellent..perhaps my best 2019 read so far. Yes, Normal People is waitng for me. Sally Rooney has been hailed as the first great millennial novelist for her stories of love and late capitalism. I will have to change gears in order to stay open to topics that concern millenials…but not me. I do hope you get to listen to her speak….and perhaps write a post about it! Thanks for your comments!


  2. Mar 24 2019

    I loved the hearts invisible furies, so look forward to this one coming across my reading path, he writes such great, complex characters.


    • Mar 24 2019

      I just ordered The Hearts Invisible Furies…. just love Boyne’s writing style!

      Liked by 1 person


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #readingirelandmonth19 Week 4 round-up!
  2. #Shortlist Kerry Group Irish Novel of 2019 | NancyElin

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