Danny Coughlin is Boston Police Department royalty and the son of one of the city's most beloved and powerful police captains. His beat is the ...Show synopsisDanny Coughlin is Boston Police Department royalty and the son of one of the city's most beloved and powerful police captains. His beat is the predominately Italian neighbourhoods of the North End where political dissent is in the air - fresh and intoxicating. On the hunt for hard-line radicals as a favour to his father, Danny is drawn into the ideological fray and finds his loyalties compromised as the police department itself becomes swept up in potentially violent labour strife. Luther Lawrence is on the run. A suspect in a nightclub shooting in Oklahoma, he flees to Boston, leaving his wife behind. He lands a job in the Coughlin household and meets Danny and the family's Irish maid, Nora, who once had a powerful bond. As the mystery of their relationship unravels, Luther finds himself befriending them both even as the turmoil in his own life threatens to overwhelm him. Desperate to return to his wife and child, he must confront the past that has followed him and settle scores with enemies old and new. Set at the end of the Great War, The Given Day is meticulously researched and expertly plotted, it will transport you to an unforgettable time and place.Hide synopsis
The Given Day (Harperluxe) – Trade paperback (2008)
Trade paperback, Harperluxe 2008
Large type / large print.
ISBN: 0061668214 ISBN-13: 9780061668210
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 ...Show moreSet 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.Hide
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Dramatic historical fiction using the Boston Police riots which involve all the characters, most of whom are members of an Irish family with a tradition of public service.
Well written and gripping descriptions as well as painlessly transmitted information about Boston at that time of our country's history. Maybe a little over the top at times, but immensely satisfying overall.
Dennis Lehane is a very interesting writer -- he made his mark with gritty, edgy crime novels like A Drink Before The War and Gone Baby Gone, but showed his literary chops with the phenomenal Mystic River. He also penned Shutter Island which is more of a thriller, and I believe is being made into a feature film.
But The Given Day bears little resemblance to any of those excellent books, except in the simple fact that it is incredibly good.
Set in Boston just after the first World War, The Given Day follows a few key players - Aiden "Danny" Coughlin, a Boston cop trying to make his own mark in the shadow of his father Thomas; Luther Laurence, a black ("Negro" here) amateur baseball player who is forced to run away from his past, including his pregnant wife; and, of all people, Babe Ruth. The influenza pandemic has just swept through the country and Boston is being threatened by political terrorists, all while the police force tries to organize to get a respectable wage.
If a book about unions, the development of the NAACP, Irish cops and race relations doesn't sound particularly compelling, then I haven't done a very good job writing about the book here. As the novel worms its way to the finish, the sense of foreboding, of knowing that the city is set to explode (and does) is truly gripping. The character development is such that it's hard to pull away from the book, and the conclusions feel real, unforced and satisfying.
The Given Day is a phenomenal book. As I understand it, Martin Scorcese is making it into a movie, but I'd recommend reading the book on its own long before that shows up.
Yes, I would recommend it, and yes, it was very well written. There were some bald spots through which I had to push myself, and I felt that the Babe Ruth sections could sound a bit forced. But that may be because the very mention of Babe Ruth to a long term Red Sox fan is uncomfortable. Was he really that much of a slob?
It's worth the journey to re-live the Boston police strike and the tensions of the era. And the characters, especially the black ones, are engaging and complex. No one is wholly good, and several are wholly bad. The villain turns out to be the social network of immigrants, wards, poverty, and social deprivation. This is how it was, and we don't want to forget.
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