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.
"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."
"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 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."
"[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"
"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."