The O'Briens follows the family from The Law of Dreams two generations later: Joe O’Brien is coming of age in a new century in remote Pontiac County, Quebec, with his two brothers and two sisters by his side. Their father has abandoned the family and died in the South African war; their frail mother has remarried the abusive and lecherous Mick Heaney. Joe and his siblings escape the poverty and violence of the Pontiac, but as Joe travels the continent, building a business and a bright young family with his wife, Iseult, he is never quite able to leave his past behind.
Told from the perspectives of Joe, Iseult, and their children and spanning the construction of the Canadian railroad as well as both world wars, this is a majestic novel that mirrors the scope and sweep of what Wilfrid Laurier calls "Canada's Century." Tragic, romantic, and as vivid as the novel that preceded it, The O'Briens is an epic of great heart, imagination, and narrative force.
"Behrens is a beautiful writer ... this is a novel whose vision affirms life in the very best ways."
Behren's characters are painfully real . . . the battle of the O'Brien family is as legendary and epic as any war.
[The O'Briens] immerses readers in a river of narrative that seems less like fiction than lived experience ... striking and heartfelt ...
Brimming with complex and nuanced characters, Behrens's second novel lives up to the expectations set by his award-winning debut.
For sheer reading satisfaction, The O'Briens is a treat waiting for everyone who read and enjoyed The Law of Dreams.
Moments of grace and romance are rocked by cruel words and violence in this epic, a piece of rough beauty itself.
"Peter Behrens is a master of the art of storytelling."
. . . a forward-looking novel . . . you want to turn the pages because the people become so real . . . but underlying the story is a nuance of tragedy and old sadness.
[The O'Briens] is impressive in its scope and ambitious in its goals. Behrens's writing is always tight, and some of his descriptions are flat-out jaw-dropping.
... fine storytelling ...
The O'Briens is a major accomplishment.
Behrens' fine writing moves readers from one decade to the next, and we become more attached to each of the characters with each passing year . . . a sweeping Canadian saga that will carry readers along.
A truly wonderful writer who will no doubt be dominating the literary award nomination lists this fall.
. . . Behrens does an excellent job of exposing the particulars of life . . . extremely moving . . .
. . . tragic and warm . . . lush with Canadian history . . .
Time and time again, Behrens proves himself a first-rate seanchaí, the Irish term for a storyteller, by bringing the O’Brien clan to life on the page.
. . . a distinctly 20th-century -- and decidedly Canadian -- family epic . . . pitch-perfect.
... Behrens deliver[s] beautifully ... thrilling and poignant.