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A mad and wonderful thing - Mark Mulholland

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A mad and wonderful thing
Mark Mulholland
Paperback / softback
Scribe UK
UK Publication Date

'You wouldn't get involved, Johnny, would you? What about those terrible bombs? You wouldn't do a bad thing, would you?'

In this passionate and heart-wrenching debut novel by Irish writer Mark Mulholland, we meet Johnny Donnelly - an intense young man who is in love with books, with his country, and with the beautiful Cora Flannery. But in his dark and secret other life he shoots British soldiers: he is an IRA sniper.

How can this be? As his two worlds inevitably move towards a dramatic collision, Johnny takes us on a journey through the history, legends, and landscapes of his beloved Ireland. In the end, Johnny has to make sense of his inheritance and his life, and he does so in a riveting, redemptive, and unforgettable climax.

Told in Johnny's unique voice, and peopled by a cast of extraordinary characters, A Mad and Wonderful Thing tells its tale lightly, but pulls a heavy load. It takes us beyond the charming, familiar, and often funny experiences of everyday life to the forces that bind people together, and that set them against each other - and to the profound consequences of the choices that they make.

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Mark Mulholland was born and raised in a town on the Irish border, where he left school at sixteen. He now lives with his wife, their four children, and a large library of second-hand books in a farmhouse in France. A Mad and Wonderful Thing is his first novel, and is currently being developed for film.

'[R]omance is the mad and wonderful thing that gives the novel its name, but it's not the emotion that drives the plot ... Mulhlland's prose has all the elan of fine conversation after a couple of pints ... the final act is marvellous'

Canberra Times - Michelle Griffin

'Johnny Donnelly is a romantic and a rhetorician ... it's easy to be swept along ... Mulholland has Roddy Doyle's gift for vernacular ... you'll be there with him to the bitter end.'

Herald Sun

'A great read ... it deserves to do well.'

Jeremy Irons

'An emotional, shocking, gorgeous read, rooted in such painful reality ... a magnetic and lyrical read.'

Jon Snow

'[A] terrific first novel ... Mulholland has pulled off that most difficult of literary quinellas: a serious story, entertainingly told.'


'[A]n extraordinary book; it confronts political and moral choices with a harsh brutality, but is, as well, a great love story.'

Readings Monthly - Mark Rubbo

'[L]yrical, poetic and passionate'

The Saturday Age

'Despite the light-hearted banter, the real pathos underlying the Irish charm and wit permeates the book as Mulholland brings to life Ireland's bitter, strife-torn history. And he proves an extremely gifted story-teller to boot.'

The Weekend West - Elaine Fry

'Beneath the passion, wit, and poetry of A Mad and Wonderful Thing is an undertow of tragedy. This is a world where our moral certainties are challenged, where gentle domesticity and sudden violence disrupt our expectations.'

Robert Gott

'Excellent. Deeply satisfying and moving . Ireland has a new and exciting voice.'

Liam Neeson

'The real central character in this book is Ireland. Mulholland apparently effortlessly conjures up the country through its history, myths and legends, its landscape and The Troubles of the 1990s, during which the novel is set ... Evocative and lyrically written.'

Daily Mail

'This markedly ambitious first novel is one to reckon with.'

Sunday Times

'A fascinating and profound book - a story of love and brutality and tenderness and death ...
A book which stays.'

Irish News - Dominic Kearney

'This is a first novel and it clearly demonstrates that Mark Mulholland fulfils another one of those Irish stereotypes - he really knows how to tell a story.'
New Books - Clare Donaldson

New edition
Keyword Index
Ireland - Fiction.
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Number of Pages

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