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The Dead Republic by Roddy Doyle

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Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 29 April 2010.

The final part of Roddy Doyle's trilogy see's Henry Smart return to the Ireland he left 20 years before and once again getting caught up in the Republican movement. A great end to Henry's story and a sad goodbye to this trio of books.

If you like Roddy Doyle you might also like to read books by Donal Ryan, Sebastian Barry and David Nobbs.

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. Roddy Doyle’s extraordinary trilogy capturing the history of Ireland in the 20th century stars Henry Smart, a loveable, exasperating hero, who in parts one and two moved from life as a young republican revolutionary in Ireland to an equally frenetic life in America in the 1920s. In this, part three, it is 1951 and Henry returns to Ireland for the first time since 1922. After a short-lived period of fame as the subject of a film, he starts to drift in to old age as a caretaker, until he survives a UVF bomb attack, and suddenly his life becomes very complicated indeed. With his natural ear for dialogue and wit, Doyle succeeds masterfully with this massive odyssey giving it an incredible richness and veracity – the work of a true master.
~ Caroline White


The Dead Republic by Roddy Doyle

At the end of Oh, Play That Thing , the second volume of Roddy Doyle's trilogy about Henry Smart, Henry, his leg severed in an accident with a railway boxcar, crawls into the Utah desert to die - only to be discovered by John Ford, who's there shooting his latest Western. Ford recognizes a fellow Irish rebel and determines to turn Henry's story - a boy volunteer at the GPO in 1916, a hitman for Michael Collins, a republican legend - into a film. He appoints him 'IRA consultant' on his new film, The Quiet Man. The Dead Republic opens in 1951. Henry is returning to Ireland for the first time since his escape in 1922. With him are the stars of Ford's film, John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, and the famous director himself, 'Pappy', who in a series of intense, highly charged meetings has tried to suck the soul out of Henry and turn it into Hollywood gold-dust. Ten years later Henry is in Dublin, working in Ratheen as a school caretaker, nicknamed 'Hoppy Henry' by the boys on account of his wooden leg. When he is caught in a bomb blast, that wooden leg gets left behind. He finds himself a hero: the old IRA veteran who's lost his leg to a UVF bomb. Wheeled out by the Provos, Henry is to find he will have other uses too, when the peace process begins in deadly secrecy...In three brilliant novels, A Star Called Henry , Oh, Play That Thing and The Dead Republic , Roddy Doyle has told the whole history of Ireland in the twentieth century. And in the person of his hero, he has created one of the great characters of modern fiction.

About the Author

Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle was born in Dublin in 1958. His first novel, The Commitments, was published to great acclaim in 1987 and was made into a very successful film in 1991. The Snapper was published in 1990 and has also been made into a film. His third novel, The Van, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and was also made into a film. Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha won the 1993 Booker Prize. His most recent novel is A Star Called Henry. He lives in Dublin.

Photo © Amelia Stein

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Book Info

Publication date

25th March 2010


Roddy Doyle

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Jonathan Cape Ltd an imprint of Vintage




Literary Fiction
Historical Fiction
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