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A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle - Book Reviews


A Star Called Henry
Roddy Doyle

Fiction-Net Rating 3 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

A historical tale marking a new turn in Roddy Doyle's writing. Born in the slums of Dublin in 1902, his father a one-legged whorehouse bouncer, Henry Smart has to grow up fast. He eventually becomes a Fenian, a rebel, a republican legend - one of Michael Collins's boys, an assassin on a stolen bike.

We Say

What can I say? I really didn't like Roddy Doyle's novel, A Star Called Henry. While Doyle created a memorable character and I learned a lot about what motivates an IRA terrorist, I was not hooked. Perhaps it was my state of mind while reading this novel. What started out as a promising story quickly began to drag. Unfortunately, I had to struggle and force myself to finish this novel.

What saves this novel from being an unworthy read, is Roddy Doyle's ability to create memorable characters.

A Star Called Henry is the story of a young man named Henry Smart. Forced to live with his dead brother's name, Henry seems determined to prove to the world that he is his own man. What makes his character so fascinating is the fact that he has survived poverty and despair to become a feared member of the IRA. Although Henry is a cold-hearted killer, it is hard not to like him. Poverty created a thief and criminal while Doyle created a character that was both likable and believable. Henry Smart is a character worthy of Ireland's best legends.

I found myself caught up with the relationship between Miss O'Shea and Henry, more than the struggle surrounding them. Miss O'Shea was a teacher that was kind to Henry and his brother, Victor. It is Miss O'Shea that teaches Henry how to write his name. Their relationship develops over the short years and like Henry, the reader may find themselves searching the pages for her appearance.

All in all, A Star Called Henry, failed to capture my interest. While it had a wonderful character and good dialogue, I couldn't lose myself in the story. I will have to read another book by Roddy Doyle because I don't believe that A Star Called Henry was representative of his abilities.

Review by: Yumi Nagasaki-Taylor

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