Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett

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Adam Haslett’s debut novel, after his Pulitzer Prize nominated collection of short stories You are not a stranger here, was published in 2010. It tells the story of Doug Fanning; a former soldier in the Iraqi war, he is now a senior executive at a bank named Union Atlantic. Due to a serious of somewhat shady financial maneuvers, Doug had made Union Atlantic extremely successful. He is handsome, driven,  wealthy although having grown up poor with an alcoholic mother he secretly abhors the wealthy people he works for and of which he has become.

The book settles on a battle of two houses between Doug who has built a McMansion on land previously owned by the family of Charlotte Grieves. Charlotte is an old eccentric former teacher from a true blood New England family. She despises this new greedy corporate America of which Doug epitomises. She decided that she alone will wage war against Doug and all that he stands for. There are a number of smaller plot lines running through the novel. But ultimately it is about how society has changed in America. Where morality fits in with greed and what is it that we value.

Haslett pitches this battle extremely well. He is a superb writer and made me thoroughly enjoy a novel that deals with venture capitalism. Not merely that but he made it make sense to me! I loved the battle and the stubbornness. There is a depth to this novel that makes it so much more than a war of corporate greedy America versus old values America.


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Most Requested #2 – September 2016

An occasional series of blog posts where I discuss the most requested books in Irish Libraries. Our new library managment system now caters for 17 authorities and these are the most requested books across that system.

This month, I’ll be discussing the Top 5 Most Requested Books at the moment

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Coming in at number 5, with 125 holds, is Maggie O’Farrell’s most recent novel, This Must Be The Place. It’s been getting fantastic reviews with The Guardian (“audacious”) and The Irish Times (“In this tender, thoughtful novel, the lyrical writing is full of grace but never feels forced or affected. O’Farrell also has a gift for creating whole characters in just a few pages”).

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Beating out number five by just three holds, Terry Hayes’ I am Pilgrim with 128 holds. This thriller has been perennially popular since its publication in 2013 – and is seemingly always on hold (which is a very good sign of its popularity). It’s Hayes’ debut novel and people are now chomping at the bit for a follow-up, but Mr. Hayes seems to be taking his time (another good sign).

Elena Ferrante’s four Neopolitan Novels have been hugely successful. It seems that everyone who is reading the series has read the first book, My Brilliant Friend, and have moved onto the second, The Story of a New Name, which has 137 holds (interestingly, My Brilliant Friend is not on the top 25 most requested at all at the moment). The books tell the story of two best friends, Elena and Raffaella, from childhood to adulthood, and have been a huge success, leading to a massive boost in all of Ferrante’s other novels, which have been subsequently reprinted, and a proposed 32-part television series of The Neopolitan Novels.

What I find fascinating about Ferrante, who was named this year as one of the 100 Most Influential People in 2016 by TIME Magazine, is that the name is a pseudonym and her true identity is a closely guarded secret – something that’s fascinating in this day and age where everyone knows everything about everyone!

#2 and #1

If you read, our previous installment of Most Requested, you will have read how Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Lying in Wait were the two most popular books in libraries.

When I wrote the last post, our number #2, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, had just been released and had 90 holds. A few weeks later, and more people have heard about it, and there is now a WHOPPING 316 holds. What a difference a (few) day(s) makes!

It’s a similar story with Lying in Wait. Liz Nugent’s eagerly awaited follow-up to Unravelling Oliver had 280 holds and now has a frankly jaw-dropping 494 holds. This book is clearly the hit of the summer!

That’s all from Most Requested for this month! Will Maggie O’Farrell take down Terry Hayes? Will Elena Ferrante’s third Neopolitan novel hit the top five? Will everyone have read Lying in Wait by October? Find out next month, same book time, same book channel!