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  • Published: 15 July 2015
  • ISBN: 9780099481539
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • RRP: $19.99

The Thrill of it All

A captivating novel filled with music, friendship and teenage dreams, from the bestselling author of Ghost Light and Star of the Sea

At college in 1980s Luton, Robbie Goulding, an Irish-born teenager, meets the elusive Fran Mulvey, an orphaned Vietnamese refugee. Together they form a band. Joined by cellist Sarah-Thérèse Sherlock and her twin brother Seán on drums, The Ships in the Night set out to chase fame. But the story of this makeshift family is haunted by ghosts from the past.

Spanning 25 years, The Thrill of it All rewinds and fast-forwards through an evocative soundtrack of struggle and laughter. Infused with blues, ska, classic showtunes, New Wave and punk, using interviews, lyrics, memoirs and diaries, the tale stretches from suburban England to Manhattan's East Village, from Thatcher-era London to the Hollywood Bowl, from the meadows of the Glastonbury Festival to a wintry Long Island, culminating in a Dublin evening in July 2012, a night that changes everything.

A story of loyalties, friendship, the call of the muse, and the beguiling shimmer of teenage dreams, this is a warm-hearted, funny and deeply moving novel for anyone that's ever loved a song.

  • Published: 15 July 2015
  • ISBN: 9780099481539
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Joseph O'Connor

Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. His books include eight previous novels: Cowboys and Indians (Whitbread Prize shortlist), Desperadoes, The Salesman, Inishowen, Star of the Sea (American Library Association Award, Irish Post Award for Fiction, France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, Prix Madeleine Zepter for European novel of the year), Redemption Falls, Ghost Light (Dublin One City One Book Novel 2011) and The Thrill of it All. His fiction has been translated into forty languages. He received the 2012 Irish PEN Award for outstanding achievement in literature and in 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.


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Praise for The Thrill of it All

O'Connor writes with such passion, such precision, such beautiful sentences, with such an ear for language and with such knowledge and hilarity, that this book could only come from an extremely gifted Rock'n'Roll obsessive... A brilliant and vital document

Bob Geldof

Exuberantly funny

Belfast Telegraph

[A] brilliantly conceived and touching novel... You don't have to be a music fan to love it

Deirdre O'Brien, Sunday Mirror

It's so crafted that you end up wishing they were real, and proves that fictional musicians can be written well. As it fast-forwards to the present day, showing how time changes things, it's easy for the reader to be drawn into tales of teenage dreams, friendship and a real love of music

Heather McDaid, List

This is a book for anyone who has ever dreamt of being a rock star

Daily Express

Intoxicating...a love letter to rock 'n' roll...incredibly moving

Sunday Independent

Occasionally, you read a sentence that you know couldn't be bettered: Joseph O'Connor's new novel is jam-packed with such sentences - paragraph after paragraph of brilliance


[O'Connor] is warm without being sentimental, and he cuts effortlessly between comedy and tragedy. Music nerds will love the most satisfyingly voluminous playlists since High Fidelity

Kate Saunders, The Times

Hugely entertaining. A vivid joy. He's a master...Deftly and tenderly drawn...for friends and family, and always and forever, for music...That feeling has rarely been captured as exhilaratingly, and as vividly, as in The Thrill of it All

Sunday Business Post

A novel about music, family and friendship...O'Connor brilliantly evokes the 1980s... This novel is shot through with humour, patois and all the human contradictions that make the characters truly memorable.

Mail on Sunday

In a beguiling mix of memory, interviews, lyrics and diary entries, O'Connor constructs his personal, distinctly loving, laughing pseudo-memoir that rewinds us romantically to the music and mindset of the way we were then and fast forwards to the rueful way we are now. Pure pleasure

Iain Finlayson, Saga

An evocative and vibrant, poignant and witty tale. [A] brilliant, moving novel

UK Press Syndication

A touching and beautifully drawn portrait of a group of people who essentially become a new sort of family

Anna Carey, Irish Times

O'Connor's story is characteristically well-crafted and his playfully inventive use of language is evident throughout. A nostalgic story about friendship and the enduring importance of music in people's lives.


A touching and beautifully drawn portrait of a group of people who essentially become a new sort of family

Anna Carey, Irish Times

Rewinds and fast-forwards through an evocative soundtrack of struggle and laughter

Psychologies, Psychologies

He's done it again. Has everything a holiday read should have - life, love and rock and roll

Irish Independent

How do you explain what a fictional band sounds like? O'Connor does it exquisitely by letting us listen to the music of Robbie's insecurities, his inability to see his own importance, and his all-consuming love for Fran. A novel to be savoured, with its beautiful, laugh-out-loud bickering between [the characters], its melancholic sweetness and the sky wisdom that penetrates its pages, and the feeling it gives that, despite not hearing a sound, you have just come out of an amazing concert of all your favourite songs


O'Connor at his playful and narrative best. shot through with electricity, packed with sentences that send you spinning, full of joy and sadness and swerve. This was a book to make my tired heart soar. Of all the Irish writers working today, Joe O'Connor speaks better than anyone of what is genuine, what is necessary, and what is ennobling. A thrill indeed.

Colum McCann, winner of the US National Book Award and the Impac Award

A vibrant and enjoyable read

Connaught Telegraph

Has an eye, and ear, for music culture that few of even the best rock journalists can match

Socialist Unity

Joseph O'Connor's The Thrill of it All uses layered narrative textures with both serious skill and engaging lightness so that the core drama emerges with clarity and wit.

Colm Toibin, Observer, Books of the Year, 2014

I've seen some reviews bill The Thrill of it All as being a book for anyone who's dreamt of being a rock star, but I'd say it's appeal is far wider than that: it's for anyone who loves music - blues, ska, New Wave, punk and rock especially

Reading Matters

Humour and poignancy are woven into the fabric of this warm, well-crafted novel, all the way to its cathartic conclusion

Alastair Mabbott, Herald

a warm-hearted, funny and moving novel for anyone that's ever loved a song

Irish Times

Some of the funniest, most tender moments are the exchanges between Robbie, the rebellious son, and his staid but loving father, Jim...less a tale of pop dissolution than of family


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