November 1979, the height of Northern Irelands Troubles. Kathleen Morans son Sean has just been transferred to the hypersecure H-block in Belfasts notorious Maze prison, where he soon emerges as a young but important force in the extreme protest, known as the Blanket, that political prisoners are staging there. John Dunn is also newly arrived at the prison, having taken on the job of guarda brutal but effective way to support a house and a girlfriend, the domestic dream.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, no ones dreams go untroubled. As rumors of a hunger strike begin to circulate, Louise Deans pitch-perfect novel places two parents, two sons, and two enemies on a collision course that ends in a surprising and deeply resonant climax.
Set against the real-life events of the period, the two primary story-lines never fully meet; instead they contrast each other, grimly showing the futility of the many wasted lives and the day-to-day realities of life for the everyday people on the front line, entrenched in their opinions but far removed from the political decision making process. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Dean writes strong characters and provides a sympathetic rendering of both sides of the conflict, making for a powerful and memorable novel.
Library Journal - Barbara Love
Dean uses crystalline prose to paint both sides of the conflict with an equally tender and sympathetic brush. Not for the squeamish but highly recommended.
This grim story is told with sharp wit and sharper love. Readers who manage to leave Dean's worlds of East and West Belfast without a bitter sympathy for bothsides of the grinding Ulster conflict are in dire need of heart transplants. Not a wasted moment in this terrifying and terribly funny book.
The Daily Telegraph
Although John and Kathleen never meet, Dean weaves together their lives so skilfully that you feel no sense of disjointedness .....
The one obvious weakness in the book is the dialogue which, though generally sound, is scattered with clichés .... it is a shame to see an otherwise masterly novel punctuated by moments of laziness.
The London Telegraph
That an English woman born after the Troubles began should take one of its most grisly episodes - the "dirty protests" in the Maze prison - as the focus of a compelling family drama is ambitious to say the least. That she should pull it off with such compassion and perceptive detail is nothing short of astonishing.
The Guardian (UK)
Dean is an audacious arrival in British fiction. She is unafraid to tackle unsexy or unsafe material, or to stray beyond the domestic sphere. With the difficult second novel, so often a disappointment, she has significantly upped the stakes and succeeded. Where This Human Season could easily have been earnest or preachy it is funny and humane. And — most refreshing of all — Dean is only noticeable in her narratives by her conspicuous absence. We will undoubtedly be hearing more from her.
The London Times - Lucy Hughes-Hallett
In her second novel, Louise Dean has moved from the private sphere to the political, but she has taken with her the assumption that ultimately all human relations are personal, and that to lose sight of that fact is to become dangerously inhumane. This Human Season, as sympathetic as it is sorrowful, joins a long and illustrious tradition of storytelling, reminding readers that in any conflict the enemy, however hideous a horde when seen collectively, is made up of individuals with their own motives and relationships and — in many cases — regrets.
In the early 20th century
Protestants and Catholics divided
into two warring camps over the
issue of Irish home rule. Most Irish
Catholics wanted complete
independence from Britain, but Irish
Protestants feared living in a
country ruled by a Catholic
In an attempt to pacify both
factions, the British passed the
Government of Ireland Act in 1920
which divided Ireland into two
separate political entities, each
with some powers of self-government.
The Act was accepted by Ulster
Protestants and rejected by southern
Catholics, who continued to demand
total independence for a unified
Following a period of guerrilla
warfare between the nationalist
Irish Republican Army (IRA) and...
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