Review: The Life O’Reilly by Brian Cohen

Title: The Life O’Reilly

Author: Brian Cohen

Published: iUniverse August 2009

Sypnosis: On the outside, Nick O’Reilly has it all: a high-flying legal career, as a partner of an elite Wall Street law firm, and financial security, with an apartment overlooking Central Park.  Having grown up in a working-class family, as far back as Nick can remember this was his dream.  But at the age of thirty-six, after several years of sacrificing his personal life for professional gain, Nick has started to ponder his future and consider the mark he wants to leave on society both professionally and personally—his legacy.

Status: Read from December 27 to 29, 2010 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

I saw a review of the novel on a blog and left a comment, only to be contacted several weeks later by the author offering his book for review, for which I thank him.
The premise of The Life O’Reilly is one of redemption, love and hope. The plot is appealing, it tugs at even the most cynical heart and has an important and dramatic message.
The story is told from the point of view of Nick, a corporate lawyer in his mid thirties whose life changes when he becomes involved in a pro bono case. I appreciated the time the author took to establish Nick’s situation at the beginning of the novel allowing the reader to get to know him. Nick is an appealing protagonist and Cohen’s careful development ensures we empathise with the struggles Nick faces in his professional and personal life. The relationship with Dawn is sweet and romantic, though I thought Dawn was a rather insipid until nearing the end of the book. There was more potentional to explore her character as an individual rather than of a reflection of Nicholas.
The storyline has an undoubted emotional impact however I felt the writing lacked passion. The language is spare, sentences are short and analytical. Cohen has an eye for detail, but it feels impersonal. He carefully writes of character appearance and room furnishings yet the manner is dry and prosaic. There are several pauses in the story to allow Nick to illustrate his environment that I felt could have been incorporated more naturally during the scene.
While the style had an impact on my ability to engage with the story, the strength of the novel is in the thought provoking lesson Cohen illustrates – you have only one life to live so make it all you can.
The book has received much praise and won several awards in 2010 and I congratulate Cohen on his achievements with The Life O’Reilly.

@ Goodreads

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kelly
    Dec 31, 2010 @ 10:12:51

    Ahaha, wow!
    I can’t believe we reviewed the same book at the same time! lol
    Talk about a coincidence!

    P.S.: I have been sick and offline for a couple of weeks but wow you have been keeping busy!
    Hope you had an awesome Christmas and have a great New Year’s Eve planned! 🙂



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