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The Master: Book summary and reviews of The Master by Colm Toibin

The Master

by Colm Toibin

The Master by Colm Toibin X
The Master by Colm Toibin
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  • Published May 2004
    352 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

Like Michael Cunningham in The Hours, Colm Tóibín captures the extraordinary mind and heart of a great writer. Brilliant and profoundly moving, The Master tells the story of Henry James, a man born into one of America's first intellectual families two decades before the Civil War. James left his country to live in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London among privileged artists and writers.

In stunningly resonant prose, Tóibín captures the loneliness and longing, the hope and despair of a man who never married, never resolved his sexual identity, and whose forays into intimacy inevitably failed him and those he tried to love. The emotional intensity of Tóibín's portrait of James is riveting. Time and again, James, a master of psychological subtlety in his fiction, proves blind to his own heart and incapable of reconciling his dreams of passion with his own fragility.

Tóibín is "a great and humanizing writer" who describes complex relationships in "supple, beautifully modulated prose" (The Washington Post Book World). In The Master, he has written his most ambitious and heartbreaking novel, an extraordinarily inventive encounter with a character at the cusp of the modern age, elusive to his own friends and even family, yet astonishingly vivid in these pages.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Far more than a stunt, this is a riveting, if inevitably somewhat evasive, portrait of the creative life." - Publishers Weekly

"The Master is hardly a typical summer book, but it is convincing and enthralling..." - The Washington Post

"Starred Review. Even the reader who knows little about Henry James or his work can enjoy this marvelously intelligent and engaging novel ... a beautifully nuanced psychological portrait." - Booklist

"A somewhat stately novel that will appeal most to readers who admire James's subtle, stylistically rich, demanding prose. As such, it's a formidably brilliant performance." - Kirkus

"Tóibín's enthralling novel displays-in a manner that is masterly-the wit and metaphorical flair, psychological subtlety and phrases of pouncing incisiveness with which a great novelist captured the nuances of consciousness and duplicities of society." - Sunday Times Review

"Whatever Toibin's literary-critical and ideological interest in James, The Master is unquestionably the work of a first-rate novelist -- one who has for the past decade been writing excellent novels about people cut off from their feelings or families or both." - The New York Times - Daniel Mendelsohn

"This is an audacious, profound, and wonderfully intelligent book." - The Guardian

"A sympathetic and triumphant novel of startling excellence….The Master is a portrait of Henry James that has the depth and finish of great sculpture." - The Observer

"Impressive and moving…the novel grapples with what it means to really live….The Master is a lovely portrait of the artist, rich in fictional truth." - Times Literary Supplement

This information about The Master was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Colm Toibin Author Biography

Photo: Bruce Weber

Colm Tóibín is the author of eleven novels, including Long Island; The Magician, winner of the Rathbones Folio Prize; The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; The Testament of Mary; and Nora Webster; as well as two story collections and several books of criticism. He is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University and has been named as the Laureate for Irish Fiction for 2022–2024 by the Arts Council of Ireland. Three times shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.

Link to Colm Toibin's Website

Name Pronunciation
Colm Toibin: CULL-um Toe-BEAN

Other books by Colm Toibin at BookBrowse
  • The Magician jacket

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