Presenting... the Fabulous O'Learys

Presenting... the Fabulous O'Learys by Caron Freeborn

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By Caron Freeborn

avg rating

8 reviews

Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen, see the freaks in their natural habitat. Only cost you your bloody soul.


07 Oct 2018


After some trepidation because of the very strong language and tricky subject matter this book was chosen for our book club to review and it proved to be an extremely good choice – although it divided opinion it also provided an enormous amount for discussion. One thing we were all agreed on was the strength of the writing both in style and substance.
Most of us found the different characters hard to identify at first and perhaps a family tree at the front of the book may have been helpful here. However, those who prefer character driven books found it extremely interesting whereas those preferring plot driven were left wanting. We all agreed that the characters were extremely well drawn (all with their own peculiarities and idiosyncracies) and also that we have our own strangeness – some more than others!
This was a marmite book but well worth trying and certainly well worth reading as a book club pick. We gave it a 6 out of 10.

19 Apr 2018

I found this book very hard going. So many characters to keep track of. The story was a good one but the complexity of the people in it detracted from that for me and I spent most of the time trying to remember who everyone was and how they were related to each other. The end was a bit of a disappointment too I’m agraid Sorry but not for me .

31 Mar 2018

St Regulus AJ

This is not a book for me. I found the style confusing and the use of swearing both offensive and distracting. Other members of my group really enjoyed it and gave it a five star rating so the book really divided opinion. You will like it or hate it, a bit like marmite?

27 Feb 2018


Gosh, what a book. Meet the O’Learys and their friends, a collection of weird and wonderful characters who you will not forget once you have got to know them.

There is no actual story as such, there doesn’t need to be as this is not the point of the book. The vague outline of a plot is purely there as a platform upon which the author can showcase her wonderful array of characters and give us glimpses into their amazing lives. It is an unusual book and a very brave one for the author to tackle, presenting, as it does, an assortment of people each of whom might be considered “different” in society today and possibly alienated as a result. But she has done it so well. Rather than alienating, she has somehow managed to make each individual come alive, exuding personality in bucketloads. Disabilities, eccentricities, differences - you name it, they all appear somewhere in this book. And yet, rather than evoking embarrassment, distaste or discomfort, the author has managed to create characters who we can empathise with and grow to love – every single one of them. Not all are likeable, but they are all plausible and, as I got to know them better I found myself falling under their spell. At times they may be grumpy, arrogant, irritating and manipulative, at others charismatic, kind, caring and funny but they all radiate a kind of charm purely because they are so obviously real. The author has an amazing gift for making her characters come alive on the written page. A rare talent indeed.

This book will stay with me for a long time. I strongly suspect I have learnt something from the journey I took with the O’Learys and their friends, something about prejudices, preconceived ideas and misconceptions. Only time will tell. I really hope you also make the time to get to know them. They really are a fantastic bunch and you won’t regret having met them.

31 Dec 2017

There were some positives-it's an original book and the style was engaging. Once I got used to the switching from character to character, I thought that worked well. However, I didn't enjoy reading the book.This, I realised was because I did not find I warmed to any of the characters. I did not even slightly like them, except for Tom, who aroused some sympathy (although his "afflication" seemed hugely exaggerated and therefore lost credibility)
"So funny" it isn't-at least not to me. It was all just a bit sad.....

14 Dec 2017


I found this book fascinating, a rich array of eccentric characters several of whom take turns to tell the story of their family’s exploits following Daddy’s retirement from the world of theatre. I found it a little confusing at first following which character was which but I thought the way the different narrators revealed information about others very clever.
This book is quite different from any I had read previously and well worth the effort.

31 Oct 2017


I loved this breezy, entertaining story about a family of lovable, funny oddbods and their friends. Every character seems to have something special about them: Delia and her eating disorder and probably aspergers, Tom and his tourettes, there's a midget and an institutionalised uncle and quite a few more. We meet the family at the point where Daddy, a (quite) famous actor who is supporting everyone else financially, announces his retirement. They all then have to find ways to adapt to the new situation. Each of the characters gets chapters of their own with their voice narrating so we get to know all of them and their differences quite well but without once being patronised. We're never told what is special about each person, it just becomes apparent as we get to know them. The characters are sensitively written and the story unfolds with humour and sometimes hilarity. I was afraid it could become either 'heavy' or ridiculous but neither happens. The story is told with a lovely light touch that stays somehow believable throughout. It's a very entertaining read and we've been sent a reading group set which will be given out in a couple of weeks (I couldn't resist a sneaky preview). I can't wait until everyone else has read it and we get to discuss it because so many things come out of it about difference, about difficulties, about families and relationships. It seems like an ideal reading group book but I recommend it to anyone, part of a group or not

19 Oct 2017

My book group has been reading this book Sadly we didn't receive copies till last week, thus only four of us have finished it in time for publication day.The rest of the group thought the characters with their idiosyncrasies, were original whereas I was less convinced of their credibility. We all found the first couple of chapters hard to read, who was who and what was what was difficult to figure out.

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