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 (William Morrow & Company) – Hardcover (2008)
Hardcover, William Morrow & Company 2008
ISBN: 0688163181 ISBN-13: 9780688163181
Set at the end of the Great War, "The Given Day" offers an unflinching, utterly spectacular family epic that captures the political unrest of a nation caught between a well-patterned past and an unpredictable future.Set at the end of the Great War, "The Given Day" offers an unflinching, utterly spectacular family epic that captures the political unrest of a nation caught between a well-patterned past and an unpredictable future.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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