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Martin is a memorable character whose unflinching compassion and capacity for self-examination provide a rock-solid foundation, and MacLaverty balances the boy's seriousness with his own wise humor. He also creates a fine cast of secondary characters to bring Martin's rites of passage to life, and the result is a book that delves deeper than usual into the vagaries of teenage emotions.

MacLaverty has been down this road before Cal , and all too often the reader can predict the next scene in the narrative, but despite the familiarity of the journey, he provides plenty of atmospheric background to make this heartfelt story worth the ride. View Full Version of PW. Martin is a real MacLaverty boy, both self-absorbed and oversolicitous, the type who'll raise his hand in class to answer a question "even if he hadn't a baldy notion", just to relieve the silence.


And he speaks, once again, with the tormented voice of the typical MacLaverty adolescent: Have a good comfortable house with big rooms and all the facilities. Say mass every day. Maybe a big fry with bacon and eggs and potato bread. But there were terrible responsibilities as well. Anointing the dead after car crashes. Martin's mishaps and adventures with his two schoolfriends, Kavanagh and Foley, find their counterpoint in Martin's mother's tight-lipped suppers for her friends Mary Lawless, Nurse Gilliland and the local priest, Father Farquharson.

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To ask other readers questions about The Anatomy School , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. This 'coming-of-age' novel, set in Northern Ireland in the s, asks the tough existential questions. Mary Lawless cleared her throat. Can we assume that the sum of the two scales would be your weight? Eh Martin, a bright boy like you should know that. What do you think? So, Martin must decide whether he 'has the calling'.

But to answer that he is off to a 'silent' retreat, or forced to attend weekly dinners at his home with his mother, her two lady friends and the local priest. Martin would rather hang with his two friends, Kavanagh and Foley, who, together, form a trinity of 'bright boys'. Part One of this novel follows them as they shed their adolescent skins and, with that, unveil the absurdity around them.

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This Part gets a little Seinfeld -y as the boys conspire to steal the questions for their upcoming examinations. But school teaches absurdity, in Ireland and elsewhere, as rutting boys, who would rather smoke in the daffs are given Milton instead. Why did students have to put up with this?

If you lined up everybody in Ireland and pointed a gun at their head and said How important is it to be able to discuss Milton's Paradise Lost with a modicum of intelligence and insight? Martin will slowly lose his Faith, even as he retains the Guilt. This is comically demonstrated when Martin imagines his mother being notified of his death while hiding 'the worst wank magazine': Brennan, we're obliged to return Martin's effects. I've looked through them. Of course he may have just found this filthy magazine in a waste bin at a bus stop.

And the bus hit him before he could get around to having a wank. Of that we're definite. So, he's probably in heaven. It's a lovely dialogue they share, even as they conduct their own experiments. The girl in the library reading her book suddenly smiles. What was funny on the page lives in her eyes momentarily. A woman walking down the street completely by herself remembers something said, something done and can't hold back laughing and puts her hand up to cover her lower face. She knows she is giving away too much in front of strangers. Maybe she's had a drink too many; maybe she just left a good conversation in a pub or a coffee place.

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Whichever way it was, she gave her loveliness away to Martin as he waited for his bus one evening. It's weird, as a reader, how we add layers of knowledge that often do not wait to be used. I very recently read The Inventor and the Tycoon about, in large part, the life of 19th Century photographer Eadweard Muybridge who, when he wasn't killing his wife's lover, liked to photograph people engaged in quotidian acts like smoking a cigarette while they were nude.

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Somehow, Martin comes across a copy of Muybridge's photo book, allowing MacLaverty to tell Muybridge's story. The book gods play their jokes. And one annoying thing. In a s dinner, the adults are lamenting youth's fascination with 'disco, disco, disco'. Which, I didn't think was 'invented' until a decade later. View all 13 comments. Dec 31, A. Mary rated it really liked it Shelves: I'm adding Bernard MacLaverty to my list of writers who do not disappoint.

That decision is based on six books, and I know I have at least three more to acquire and savour. He's a writer who engages thoughtfully with ordinary things. In this case, the setting is an all-boys Catholic school, for most of the book, and the protagonist is Martin, an only child with a single parent.


Martin has to navigate the last year of school, make decisions about who he is and what he wants to be, figure out inte I'm adding Bernard MacLaverty to my list of writers who do not disappoint. Martin has to navigate the last year of school, make decisions about who he is and what he wants to be, figure out integrity, friendship, and sex. But it is not. MacLaverty writes it remembering that when we live those years and confront those things, they are not dull in the least. The story is set in Belfast in the late 's, but it is not consumed by Belfast in the late 's. Ordinary things went on there, then.

Martin is a solid, engaging guy, smarter than his grades suggest, less confident than his friend Kavanagh, less reckless than Blaise. I was taken with him from the start and followed his progress with real tension because MacLaverty shows how a single misstep in those ordinary things can change everything. Jan 17, Sarah Hacking rated it it was amazing. A portrayal of an adolescent's search for identity written with great warmth and respect for human life.

The dialogue between the affectionately-drawn characters will make you chuckle and the attention to detail to the protagonist is moving because there is a total absence of judgement of this boy, whatever situation he gets himself into. All the awkwardness of being a teen is lovingly depicted and this is what makes this an outstanding and beautiful novel for me. I'm in two minds about this book.

At one level it is a Bildungsroman , and at another it is a picture of a period. Martin Brennan is a teenager in his last year of high school. He attends a Catholic school in Protestant Belfast, where being Catholic is a badge of identity. Martin has two friends, Kavanagh, who is an athlete, and a new boy at the school, Blaise Foley, who rejects everything that the school stands for. At home his pious mother regularly entertains three friends of her age, oen of t I'm in two minds about this book. At home his pious mother regularly entertains three friends of her age, oen of them a priest, and Martin helps to serve them, hears their conversations, and is sometimes himself the subject of their conversations.

The book opens with Martin at a silent retreat with his contemporaries from the school, where the expectation is that he and the others will consider a possible vocation to the priesthood. Martin's conscience is troubled by moral and venial sins of thought word and deed, throughout the retreat, and when he gets back to school, after deciding that the priesthood is not for him, he is severely tempted to mortal sins by his new friend Blaise Foley. After leaving school he works as a technician in the anatomy school of the university, where his friend Kavanagh is a medical student.

It was a bit difficult to work out the period in which the book is set. One clue was a reference to the blowing up of Nelson's statue in Dublin in earl;y It was clearly after that event, but close enough for it still to be a talking point, so as far as I could determine from such clues in the story, it took place in One feature of the book is the very detailed descriptions of everyday life -- the composition and making of sandwiches for tea, noises and sounds like lift doors clanging.

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In that it reminded me of A touch of Daniel by Peter Tinniswood. That book was set somewhere in north-west England, and gave a very vivd picture of the place and period, and the foibles of the people, though with considerably more humour than The Anatomy School. But A Touch of Daniel was published closer to the time, and The Anatomy School was published in , which makes some of the close detail suspect, and one of the anachronisms that stood out for me was when Martin tells someone that he had a job "at the Uni".