A Star Called Henry

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  1. A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle - Reading Guide - ldi.mx
  2. Get A Copy
  3. Questions and Topics for Discussion
  4. A Star Called Henry
  5. Roddy and the ragged-trousered revolutionary

A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle - Reading Guide - ldi.mx

Collins, Padraig Pearse, and James Connelly use Henry to train young fighters and to blow up buildings. Eventually, Henry becomes an assassin for the republic, wielding the wooden leg as a murder weapon. Though exhilarated by the excitement of his work and the cause, Henry is too smart to ignore the hypocrisies of the revolutionaries and his own tenuous role in the activities. We followed orders and murdered. As the turmoil of the era surges around Henry, he continually searches for camaraderie, love, family, and identity in the midst of the chaos.

Will Henry find some peace in his hard-edged existence? A Star Called Henry gives some hints, but this novel is really only the beginning of the Henry Smart story. Since this young man is such a survivor, his life promises to be a long one, bursting with adventures enough to fill at least two more novels. Roddy Doyle is the author of six novels. Doyle has also written for the stage and the screen: He lives in Dublin. Literary Fiction Historical Fiction print. What did you like best about his personality?

The naming of people is a topic that comes up often in A Star Called Henry. I waivered between 4.

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I must say at the start that this book probably requires at least a basic knowledge of the history of the Irish Uprising and Anglo-Irish war. Henry Smart is a survivor and more.

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His Dublin is both vast and a small village. This reflects the Dublin I have come to know. Henry is born into poverty which becomes even more extreme after his father disappears. His father who has lost a leg, leaves behind his wooden l I waivered between 4. His father who has lost a leg, leaves behind his wooden limb which becomes Harry's talisman. It is his weapon and much more. Although he is barely 14, he is tall and passes for much older. For several years preceeding the Uprising, he has lived in and around Liberty Hall and become a friend of James Connolly. Later he becomes Michael Collins confidant.

His life, his conquests, his victories, and his growing legendary status are all improbable but that is what is so appealing about this super hero of the Irish revolution and the Dublin slums. Aug 07, Shane rated it really liked it. Henry Smart is an unforgettable character, ranking in my book with the likes of Oscar Matzerath, Ignatius J. Reilly and Aureliano Buendia. And this book is a great primer on the Easter Rebellion and the Irish War of Independence, exposing oppressor and oppressed alike as cold blooded killers.

Henry Smart is an assassin, just like his one-legged father before him. Henry I kills for money while Henry II or Third, because there were many dead babies in this indiscriminately fertile Irish family, al Henry Smart is an unforgettable character, ranking in my book with the likes of Oscar Matzerath, Ignatius J. Henry I kills for money while Henry II or Third, because there were many dead babies in this indiscriminately fertile Irish family, all bearing the same first name kills for the cause of Irish nationalism, a cause that betrays him because its leaders are ultimately swayed by commercial temptations to end up common mobsters.

The people in his life die on him, especially his sickly brother Victor whom he tries to protect. He does everything while underage: By contrast his grandmother is a bookworm and knows everything that is going in the underground but prefers to bury her nose in a book and remain uninvolved—she acts as observer and commentator on the tragedy evolving in an Ireland seeking liberation.

The first person narrative of Henry is sparse, indirect, exaggerated and dramatic: Also vividly described are the cold-blooded killings by the IRA. This is only my second Doyle the other being Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha , which I thought was great and from the two, I see that language is Doyle's thing, quirky and gritty, in keeping with the lives he portrays, as well as his dark humor. In the first part of this novel those qualities are showcased tremendously, even if it's done in a tall-tale vein, which isn't something I usually care for.

In fact, the whole novel is picaresque another thing I'm not particularly fond of though this is histori This is only my second Doyle the other being Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha , which I thought was great and from the two, I see that language is Doyle's thing, quirky and gritty, in keeping with the lives he portrays, as well as his dark humor. In fact, the whole novel is picaresque another thing I'm not particularly fond of though this is historical fiction of a sort, mixing fictional characters with the real.

In many ways this novel comes close to brilliance, though ultimately I found it flawed with some pointless repetition and plot holes as wide as Henry's father's wooden leg. While the novel gives a good feel for what living in Dublin during the Irish Rebellion must've been like, I think if anyone knows more about this part of Irish history than I do, they might only feel bored.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

I did appreciate the depiction of the leaders of the Rebellion as mere humans, and not necessarily heroes, and I agree with the inevitable conclusion Henry reaches at the end about those now in power. I also appreciate Doyle's attempt at rendering the role of women during this time in the character of the mythic Miss O'Shea -- alone, she is maiden-crone-mother; together, she and Henry are 'Bonnie and Clyde' superheroes -- but ultimately that representation turns out to be more telling than showing, as everything is from Henry's point of view.

View all 8 comments. I need to flow. I am a part of the picture. I flow to the edge of a cliff and I fall, I swerve and dance besides mountains and fields, I am guided by the rocks and pebbles. I entertain sundry for a dip into my wetness. Sometimes I am placid and calm to the guy with the hat and boots and jacket as he patiently holds the line for a catch. I merge into the sea or the ocean and though I may look sedate on the surface, I am water.

I merge into the sea or the ocean and though I may look sedate on the surface, I have an inner turmoil.


  1. A Star Called Henry Reader’s Guide.
  2. Roddy and the ragged-trousered revolutionary | Books | The Guardian.
  3. When the Dark Sun Shines;

I save but then I destroy too! I have a journey, a long one but it is never defined by me.

For the First Time lyrics - The Script

Melody, my mother looks out for her dead born children in the stars, in the sky. I am the first born, the celebrated one, the first who managed to stay alive and suckle at her breasts. Born in the slums of Dublin, in its muck and dark alleys, I survive on its streets. My brother Victor is my ally, but not for long. Soon, on the streets I lose him like most others have, to the wild coughing that has infected Dublin.

Alone, I am ruthless on the streets, lesser a kid, more a fighter, I am a thief, I am an urchin, I need to survive, I survive! At 14, I am over 6 feet tall and a man, I am a part of the republicans fighting for freedom and I kill at will. I am the most handsome of the lot and most of the girls fall for my eyes. I am ready to give up my life for Ireland.

I am the only one who escapes and is not jailed. My father, Henry, the original one with the wooden leg had shown Victor and me the hidden route to the river, wading through the slime of Dublin. Her husband is probably dead, in some other country having fought another war. But Ireland needs me and I am found, not by the enemies, but by my brotherhood and I join them again. They tell me we are almost there, on the road to freedom and we will have Ireland to ourselves.

I am a trainer, I train new recruits to fight the war, to stay ambushed, to shoot, to burn, to bomb; I pass on the doctrines of the struggle for freedom. But I am water, I have to flow, I am not allowed to think. Ivan, the bright one, one of the recruits I have trained has grown into a house of power. I see him after a long time. He is on a mission. He says I need to be killed; he has orders from the same brotherhood of republicans I fought for. He respects me, but I have been a twit, he says.

A Star Called Henry

I never had, says Ivan. The Captains and Generals now hold important posts in the government, and business and transactions are being carried out by who we thought were our enemies. Ivan is richer now; a county is under his control. I meet Jack Dalton after a long time, my friend, the one who induced courage and made me meet new people, powerful ones.

When I met him first, he sang songs written about me; I was a hero, he had said.

Roddy and the ragged-trousered revolutionary

The slips of paper had come from him. And now he hands me a slip of paper. I look at the paper. You have no stake in the country, man. Never had, never will. And that, Henry, is all you are and ever were. Roddy Doyle's characters are lively. He writes in short meaningful sentences and weaves his story in his own style. View all 5 comments. Jul 17, Emma Flanagan rated it really liked it Shelves: I received this book for Christmas and had intended reading it next month, what with the month that'll be in it and all for non-Irish readers next month is the centenary celebration of the Easter Rising, the opening shots effectively in our War of Independence but when it got selected for a bookclub, it moved up my reading list slightly.

Other than The Barrytown Trilogy, I haven't read many of Doyle's books, though I'm aware they cover quite a spectrum from children's to adult books, deal I received this book for Christmas and had intended reading it next month, what with the month that'll be in it and all for non-Irish readers next month is the centenary celebration of the Easter Rising, the opening shots effectively in our War of Independence but when it got selected for a bookclub, it moved up my reading list slightly.

Other than The Barrytown Trilogy, I haven't read many of Doyle's books, though I'm aware they cover quite a spectrum from children's to adult books, dealing with a number of issues in what can only be classed as a very Dublin way. However for the most part his books are based in contemporary Dublin, a Dublin Doyle and indeed I know. A Star Called Henry however is a historical novel and as a result has a different feel to it than the Barrytown books. The Dublin wit and spirit is till there but as a historical novel the Dublin portrayed isn't one Doyle knows, only heard or read about.

There is tendency to romantise the Easter Rising. It is a defining moment in Irish History, the event which would change the course of Ireland's destiny. For one week, a handful of Irish men and women would hold out against the might of the British Empire. For generations these men and women have been held up as martyrs to the cause of Irish freedom. Doyle however takes a slightly different tact. Doyle is giving a voice to the people of Dublin's squalled tenements, a group often overlooked in Irish History about the period.

It's easy to see why some noses may have been put out of joint when this was first published. Doyle doesn't exactly paint the most flattering portrait of the leaders with the exception of Connolly, the socialist labour leader, who he clearly admires. Neither Padraig Pearse one of the main leaders in nor Michael Collins the military mind behind the War of Independence come out exactly smelling of roses.

Pearse is portrayed as a pious radical, happy to go to his death, taking his men with him, in the name of Ireland's freedom. Interestingly a recent TV series by RTE about the Rising called Rebellion portrayed a similar version of Pearse and came in for a lot of criticism as a result. Collins, one of the great romantic heros of Irish independence seriously people leave flowers and love letters on this grave to this day is shown to be thoroughly rootless, willing to dispense with those no longer of use to the cause or who have become a liability.

Henry is an interesting and likeable character. He is Dublin's answer to the Artful Dodger. Clever, cheeky and by necessity a survivor. He never sinks into self pity or depression, no matter what life throws at him. Overall I preferred the earlier section of the book prior to the Rising when Henry is a kid. There is a lightness to the earlier sections missing from sections, though it also includes the scene which made me cry, the death of Henry's younger brother Victor in a dank alley from TB.

Henry is his own man in the early sections, with his own code of ethics and answering to no-one. As the book progresses he increasingly becomes a pawn in something much bigger then he. One of the most disturbing elements in the book is Henry's relationship with Miss O'Shea, his one time teacher and later love interest. I'm honestly not entirely sure what Doyle was seeking to achieve with this story line. For me Miss O'Shea was yet another adult in Henry's life who should have looked out for him, but ultimately let him down, and used him for her own ends. Also while Irish readers will enjoy it, I'm not sure of the degree it would transfer to non-Irish readers.

I suspect you would need at least some familiarity with Irish history and the main characters in other to appreciate elements of this book. For anyone interested in reading a book set during the Rising, I'm not sure that this would top my list, though I'm honestly not sure what I would recommend instead During my hamburger, a bomb blew up a crowded bandstand and killed six musicians in Regent's Park. Sound of the distant explosion startled us, but we laughed it off and went on with our meal.

A classmate of mine, though, was listening to the band that hot summer day. Shattered by her vision of the carnage, she quit school and flew back home. Probably everybody in England and Northern Ireland has a story about the day the Troubles hit home. For thousands of people whose lives have been scarred by the conflict, it's impossible to fathom the terrorists responsible for these atrocities. His vain young hero, Henry Smart, is a maddeningly likable killer who realizes only too late what horror he's perpetuating.

If Henry is right and "stories are the only thing the poor own," then he's a rich man indeed. The son of a hopeful girl and a one-legged thug, Henry starts his story with the miracle of his healthy birth in the slums of Dublin in He's the only flame among Angela's ashes, so to speak. Women and men stand in long lines to get a look at "the Glowing Baby.

The women had never seen one before. As his mother falls into madness and his father rises from bouncer to murderer, little Henry runs away with his nine-month-old brother in search of a better life. After three hair-raising years on the streets, they find a moment of happiness in the classroom of Miss O'Shea. A cruel nun turns him back onto the streets, but not before Henry captures his teacher's heart. Roddy Doyle is a phenomenon in more ways than one. All of his five novels have been bestsellers, and one has won the Booker. All have been written in a staccato Dublin demotic, invigorating and foul-mouthed; conversation novels, but a world away from, say, Henry Green.

His new book, which starts another trilogy, veers away into the completely new territory of the historical novel, and it may prove to be his most surprising achievement yet. A Star Called Henry views the Irish revolution of from below. The Dublin slum-kid protagonist, Henry Smart, is born in , his teenage mother sinking into drink, his one-legged father a brothel-bouncer and commercial hit man, his strangely detached granny an addict of women's fiction.

There are no comforts: The novel's greatest triumph is to recreate this world in Doyle's distinctive shorthand, without any creaky historical set pieces, and make it utterly convincing. Henry, huge, precocious, bursting with uneducated brains and well-directed randiness, becomes a docker, graduates into the socialist Citizens' Army and then the Fenian movement, fights at 14 years old in the Rising and the subsequent guerrilla war, becomes a fearsome trainer of freedom-fighters, killer of policemen, and Republican legend.

But it is all very unlike the history books. He hates the mystics, the 'farm boys', the Holy Joes, the people who want 'to put harps on everything'.