Quinn's book

by William Kennedy

Paper Book, 1988





New York : Viking, 1988.


In 1849, a boy saves a girl from the Hudson River in this story "of wonders and sweetness, magic and horrors [that] immerses itself in the marvelous" (The Boston Sunday Globe). A penniless Irish orphan, Daniel Quinn is among the crowds gathered at the Hudson River in Albany to watch a legendary dancer aboard the ferry. But when the boat strikes the ice that chokes the water on this wintry day, awe turns to terror. Though the dancer's life is lost, Daniel risks his neck and rescues her niece, Maud Fallon. But just as he's falling in love with the beautiful, passionate girl, she's snatched away from him. As the years pass and Daniel continues his quest for the beguiling Maud, he will witness the rise and fall of great dynasties in upstate New York, epochal prize fights, the exotic world of the theater, visitations from spirits beyond the grave, horrific battles between Irish immigrants and the Know-Nothings, the New York draft riots, the perils of the Underground Railroad, and the bloody despair of the Civil War. Rich with nineteenth-century history and filled with flourishes of humor and magical realism, this is an "engrossing and eerily profound" novel (Time) from an author who, in the words of Stephen King, "writes with verve and nerve [and] paints a full and lively canvas." In the tradition of E.L. Doctorow's Billy Bathgate or Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale, it is a remarkable saga from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Ironweed.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
Any time your book contains the sentence, "But as the warmth of the day deepened, those wary Albany water rats (I include my master) were in agreement that the floes' growth in size and frequency, indeed the whole river's present nature, which was one of mild flood, argued that skiffs had no function on water such as this; all agreed, I say, except Carrick, the rotten Scottish hunchback of syphilitic mien, no longer welcome in the brothels of Albany, who had reached no such decision and was firm in his role as Albany's undauntable ferryman, ready to carry the urgent mail, the woeful news, or the intrepid passenger across the waters during storm or flood, and now the only soul at the pier willing to transport this plumed cargo to the far shore," on page TWO, then you've definitely earned my undying loyalty for at least the next 282 pages.… (more)
LibraryThing member krizia_lazaro
"Quinn's Book" reminds me of Isabelle Allende's "House of the Spirits". Kennedy uses magic realism in his novel but it was more historical, more realism than magic. Just the right amount of magic for me. It was full of unforgettable characters that you would definitely love and I bet not relate too. The summary at the back was not wrong in saying that this book has full of Darwinian characters. I love love Daniel Quinn and I love how his love for Maud evolves. This is definitely a great love story, fit for the big screen. My P10.00 was well worth it!… (more)
LibraryThing member kimkimkim
I received an electronic copy of this book and thank NetGalley and Open Road Integrated Media.

William Kennedy's book about Daniel Quinn employs more words than I thought existed. I loved the words, I loved the characters and their travels, I loved the setting . The touch of mysticism, cynicism, phantasmagoria, were all whipped cream on the top of a great story. What an adventure, what an interesting way to be introduced to Albany in 1849. There is no question that I will explore Kennedy's other books.… (more)
LibraryThing member Gertyz
William Kennedy is talented writer, there's no doubt about it. His use of language and observations on the human condition are masterful. He engages and elicits a wide range of reactions, from laughter and joy to horrified fascination. His weakness is sustaining a cohesive narrative across the epic landscape he creates. This is the second fiction work I've read (the first being The Flaming Corsage); the first two thirds of the book paced along nicely, immersing the reader in Quinn's world and a series of adventures reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn. But the last part (a flash forward to years later) made the book seem disjointed, as if a large section had somehow been lost in the editing process (or as if Kennedy got tired and felt the need to wrap things up quickly). Quinn enters the final stretch of the novel as a grown man, who has followed his own path into adulthood and maturity - quite a change from the googly eyed adolescent whose only dream was to chase and capture the heart of Maud Fallon. What changed Quinn along the way, as he worked as a reporter on Civil War battlefields, is what most intrigues me. It's as if the heart of the book is missing, and I was left feeling a bit "gypped" for having missed the best years of Quinn's life. There are also several points where the narrative inexplicably shifts from the first person to the third person, which is confusing rather than enlightening in some way. Despite its serious flaws, I was captivated by the book's artful language and broad palette of characters, reading most of it in one (long) sitting and savoring many delicious moments. I will continue to read Kennedy's work.… (more)


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