2 reviews

by Pete Hamill

Published: 2002-12-30
Hardcover : 613 pages
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20 clubs reading this now
5 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 2 members
Moving from Ireland to New York City in 1741, Cormac O'Connor witnesses the city's transformation into a thriving metropolis while he explores the mysteries of time, loss, and love. By the author of Snow in August and A Drinking Life. 150,000 first ...
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Moving from Ireland to New York City in 1741, Cormac O'Connor witnesses the city's transformation into a thriving metropolis while he explores the mysteries of time, loss, and love. By the author of Snow in August and A Drinking Life. 150,000 first printing.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.


From The Publisher


And what a people loves it will defend. We took their temples from them and forbade them, for many years, to worship their strange idols. They gathered in secret, deep in the dripping glens, Chanting their prayers before a lichened rock. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Cormac O'Connor is given the opportunity of a lifetime-to life forever. Before he's actually granted immortality, Kongo insists that Cormac "must truly live," not "simply exist." Does Cormac fulfill that mandate? Given Cormac's experience, would you choose to live forever?

2. With Cormac's arrival in Manhattan, we see that ethnic diversity is a predominant feature in eighteenth-century New York. The city is a cultural meeting place for British colonists, African slaves, and Irish immigrants, to name a few groups. In what ways do these groups come into conflict with one another? In what ways do they live side by side harmoniously?

3. Cormac participates in some of the key events in the founding of the American republic. Yet after centuries in Manhattan, Cormarc still does "not exactly think of himself as an America, but he was definitely a New Yorker" (page 404). What does he mean by that?

4. New York City is as much a character in the novel as any of the people Cormac meets, and he has the opportunity to see the city change through the centries. How does New York grow alongside Cormac? What are your impressions of New York City after reading the book?

5. The relationship between Cormac O'Connor and Mary Morrigan begins in the summers when Cormac is learning the Celtic traditions. Describe this unique relationship. How does it color Cormac's future interactions with women?

6. When Cormac's mother is killed, Cormac's father begins to forge a sword. After his father's death, Cormac vows to seek revenge according to the Celtic code. What do you think of the acts of violence Cormac commits in the name of this vow? How do you account for the choice he makes when he meets the last of the Warren heirs? Is it possible to maintain honor while seeking vengeance?

7. Cormac and Kongo meet under horrific circumstances and initially have no common language. Yet they forge an unusually strong bond. What is the basis of their mutual understanding? What role does each play in the life of the other?

8. Over the years, many women pass through Cormac's life, yet he becomes emotionally involved with only a few. Who are the women Cormac loves? What impact does his relationship with each of them have on him?

9. Cormac comes into contact with people from many different religious backgrounds-from pagans and mystics to Jews, Catholics and Protestants-throughout his epic journey. Describe the ways in which adherents of various faiths affect Cormac's life. How does religious belief in general influence his actions? Does his view of religion change over the course of the book?

10. After three centuries, Cormac finally faces the choice of entering the otherworld and being reunited with his family or staying with Delfina and his unborn child. Do you think Cormac makes the right decision? Why? What decision would you have made in his place?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by Brenda A. (see profile) 05/09/19

  "Forever"by Cindy D. (see profile) 01/11/12

The group as a whole liked the book and found the history of NYC very interesting but were very disappointed that the 20th century was left out of the story. Several of the members commented on wanting... (read more)

  "Very slow and tiresome"by Jane C. (see profile) 03/21/10

I would not recommend this book, I forced myself to finish the book because we were discussing it for book club otherwise I would have only read the first 50 pages. The subject matter had potential to... (read more)

  "Forever"by Beth W. (see profile) 03/20/10

This book could have been so good, but the author dropped the ball. For example: While he spent five pages telling how bad the smell was he then skipped a hundred years of history.

  "Forever...and that's how reading it felt!"by Patti C. (see profile) 03/17/10

The theme of the book was great but the author just took way too much time with mundane details and then didn't really develop the characters enough that you really cared about what happened in the story.... (read more)

  "Forever by Pete Hamill"by Marianne S. (see profile) 08/14/09

The book was too long and the characters were not engaging. Some of the historical descriptions were interesting but Cormac seemed like a plot device rather than a real person.

  "Interesting story but starts slow, skips about 100 years, and ends abruptly"by Kate G. (see profile) 10/31/06

While most of the other gals in this book club liked this one, I have to admit it fell outside my normal genre and sometimes outside my comfort zone. While the book was made more interestin... (read more)

  "Intriguing story, New York City was the perfect setting"by Jean R. (see profile) 10/30/06

A little slow to start but Hamill's use of details kept a vivid picture of how New York City had overcome being a "lesser city, unlike Boston" to a pulsating melting pot of American culture. I found it... (read more)

  "Long but worth reading"by Tanya T. (see profile) 10/30/06

Very long book lots of details at the beginning not enough detail towards the end. Great detail on the history of NY. Little disappointed about the ending but overall good read!

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