A Prayer for Owen Meany ~ BookRing!!!

by John Irving | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: Global Overview for this book
Registered by SwissToni on 10/19/2003
Buy from one of these Booksellers:
Amazon.com | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT | Bol.com
18 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by SwissToni on Sunday, October 19, 2003
"Eleven-year old Owen Meany, playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend's mother. Owen doesn't belive in accidents; he believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul is both extraordinary and terrifying. At moments a comic, self-deluded victim, but in the end the principal tragic actor in a divine plan, Owen Meany is the most heartbreaking hero John Irving has yet created" (from the back cover)

Ah. I love this book. Irving is my favourite author and this is probably my favourite book of all time. More than that, this particular copy is my own personal favourite copy of my favourite book.... A discussion on the Yahoo UK bookcrossing forum led me to offer this up for a bookring (yes, I do want it back, but I also want to let it see the world and be enjoyed by other bookcrossers)

Why is it my favourite book? Well, all the way through the book, I was mildly disgruntled: it just didn't seem quite right ("not as good as 'The Hotel New Hampshire'" I grumbled). It was good, but not as good as some of his other books, and I wasn't sure why. Then I got to p.636 - pretty much the last page in the whole book - and it all clicked surely into place. I spent ages just sat on my bed, playing the whole thing back in my mind. Totally the most satisying end of any book I have read, and what a master craftsman Irving was to hold the whole thing together and bring it to such a conclusion. Brilliant. I want as many people as possible to read this, and to journal their thoughts here.

Here are the participants:

loopy1 (UK)
Chelseagirl (UK)
kangaroo (UK)
chrisp93 (UK)
marianfrench (UK)
lucycat (UK)
meshe (USA)
Kernow8 (USA)
mundoo (Australia)
sunny27 (Australia)
bilbi (France)
lechatnoir27 (UK)
netstation (UK)
YowlYY (UK)
Estherase (UK)
lady-mondegreen (UK)
talkland (UK)
hey-miki (UK)
Amanida (UK)<--- book is here!
nut (ire)

Then back to me!

Here are the rules:

1. When you receive the book, make a journal entry so we all get the thrill of knowing where it's at...

2. PM the next person in line for their address.

3. Read the book, and make a journal entry to tell us what you thought

4. Make release notes/a journal entry to say when the book is leaving your hands and who'll be catching it next, and pop it into the post!

Any problems, ping me a private message!

(7th December 2003. confession time - if you get to page 636 and wonder what the hell I am talking about, there is an explanation... It all clicked for me in the last chapter, but I couldn't recall the exact page... so when I wrote this, I grabbed the book, found the end, went back a page and used that page number - p.636 - as the place where it all happens. Reading the below it looks as though p.632 may be a more likely candidate. I'll update this once I've reread on the flight to Oz....)

Journal Entry 2 by loopy1 from Herne Bay, Kent United Kingdom on Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Just when I thought it was safe to open the door to the postman ;-)
Thanks for this, I look forward to reading it. The book I'm reading at the moment I'm finding rather hard going, so I intend having a marathon session on it this afternoon, by the end of which I'll either have finished it or given up altogether. I hope to get on to this one by the end of the week.
I'm intrigued now - I can't wait to get to page 636!

Journal Entry 3 by loopy1 from Herne Bay, Kent United Kingdom on Tuesday, November 4, 2003
Oh, wow. It took a while after finishing this book (okay a couple of hours) before I felt ready to journal. And it's going to be a while longer (maybe even tomorrow) before I feel ready to pick up another book.
For the first couple of pages I felt I was going to dislike this book and find it very hard going. Then we met Owen and got to know him and I relaxed and started to enjoy it.
There were wonderfully funny passages - the nativity play and the morning meetings - then the pace picked up a bit - or I got more involved, and since last night I've been spending any time I can in reading the last 100 pages or so.
This is definitely a book to stay in my mind, and not be forgotten easily. Thank you for sharing it, it was great!
Now, must get Chelseagirl's address and send it on.

Journal Entry 4 by chelseagirl from Faringdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Friday, November 7, 2003
Owen Meany arrived safely and will be looked after very carefully! Really looking forward to reading this after hearing so much about it .. I'll start on it tonight.

Journal Entry 5 by chelseagirl from Faringdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, November 25, 2003
So far I've found this book really hard going - for the first hundred or so pages I really had to struggle to make myself read it as I didn't find the characters appealing and all the religious references just put me off. but then, suddenly, I found myself being drawn into it and now I'm really enjoying it in an odd kind of way. But it's taking me soo long to get through .... anyway, I found a copy at the weekend so am going to let this one get on its way to katiekangaroo, and I'll add to this journal entry when I fnally finish the book!

Journal Entry 6 by chelseagirl from Faringdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, December 2, 2003
Okay, so after a slow start I could echo many of loopy1's comments in her entry. I loved the nativity and the school scenes - especially the car on stage and poor Owen hiding under the bed when they were exploring the dorms! The last couple of hundred pages just flew past until it got to the stage where I was savouring every word, unwilling to get to the end but desperate to get there to find out what the great revelation on pg. 636 was .... and I'm still a little unsure, because there wasn't anything there that made things any more clear than I'd already found them. maybe I'm a bit dim, or maybe I need to read it through again sometime.

Whatever, I really enjoyed this and thank you so much, SwissToni, for starting the ring, I doubt I would ever have read this otherwise. Now I just need to get on with the huge pile of Irvings I picked up as a direct result of enjoying this one so much!

(Hopefully kangaroo has received SwissToni's copy of this by now? I'm a bit worried because it hasn't been journalled yet!)

Journal Entry 7 by kangaroo from Barnet, Greater London United Kingdom on Friday, December 5, 2003
Eek. Many apologies for the delay in journalling!

However, you'll be pleased to hear that Owen has already accompanied me to Nottingham for a job interview - though I didn't take him in you'll be pleased to hear - and I am waiting for the sense of doom that became apparent about halfway through to be explained... Currently on p454, so he ought to be on his way sooner rather than later - that's if I don't have to reread bits!

Journal Entry 8 by kangaroo from Barnet, Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, December 7, 2003
The religious beginning put me off slightly, but as I persevered I came to see why it was needed (though with only vague understanding which related more to the people than to the different branches). I was gripped at the end, stayed up late to read. I only realised it was 3am when I got to the last page!

It all clicked for me on p 632 - unless there is something I am missing? Also, I didn't find it scary at all. Good, yes, gripping, yes, but *scary*?
Discussion required, methinks.

Fabulous book though. Will be on its way soon, I promise!

Journal Entry 9 by kangaroo at on Thursday, December 18, 2003
Released on Thursday, December 18, 2003 at through the mail in through the mail, sent as request Controlled Releases.

On its way to Marianfrench, since chrisp already has a copy!

Journal Entry 10 by MarianFrench from Buxton, Derbyshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 7, 2004
Firstly I have to apologise for not journalling earlier. Owen Meany got to me in the midst of the Christmas rush so didn't get around to journalling then. I have since started it so hope to get it moving again fairly soon. Will journal again then.

Journal Entry 11 by MarianFrench from Buxton, Derbyshire United Kingdom on Monday, February 2, 2004
I found this pretty slow going to start with - some of the scenes are hilarious and you can just picture them in your mind though. It is a long (and necessary) build up to the last chapter which really pulls all the threads together and makes sense of a lot that went before. I enjoyed the last third of the book but probably would not have made it that far if I have not read all your previous journals. It is not the type of book that I usually read so thanks for the opportunity. It's really good to read different stuff once in a while.

I plan to post it on to lucycat later today.


Journal Entry 12 by lucycat from Hull, East Yorkshire United Kingdom on Friday, February 6, 2004
Because it couldn't be a teeny-weeny thin book that arrived just as I was starting to see the light at the end of the ray-pile up tunnel (to truly mangle a couple of metaphors), could it? ;O)

In all seriousness, I'm really looking forward to this, and although I do have Chris's 'Confederacy of Dunces' ray to finish first I imagine this will be back on the road again sometime next week. By the size of it, probably *late* next week.

Thanks to Marian for passing this one along to me, and to Tim for enthusing wildly and starting this one off in the first place. I'll keep you posted...


I tried so hard to like this, honest I did guvnor, but it just didn't push any buttons for me at all - and worse still, I seem to have developed a radar for discreet plot devices that bust the ending wide open. :O(

I have to say that if I hadn't read all your glowing journal entries beforehand, and had Tim not adored it so much, then I probably wouldn't have made it through - and I *am* glad that I did - there were several points at which I stoppped and considered sending the book on (mainly because I felt I had had it for too long.) Bugger.

Well, I never did manage to get hold of Shaznod, and Tracy (Bookaddict22) has just been RABCK'd a copy, so this headed off today to Meshe in the US. :O)

Journal Entry 13 by meshe from Bonaire, Georgia USA on Saturday, March 6, 2004
received in today's mail from lucycat. Thanks so much for the post card and note. I've read the journal entries up to now and I'm hoping the book is as good as you all say it is. I've just finished a book and barely started another. The one I started isn't a ring or ray, so it can wait. I'll get started on this one tonight (after Trading Spaces) I really need to get a life!

Journal Entry 14 by meshe from Bonaire, Georgia USA on Friday, May 7, 2004
I've kept this book longer than I intended, but I'm not sorry. I'm glad that I slogged my way through. I can't say that it's going to be on my list of favorites, but a good book that was well worth the read. It's in today's mail to kernow8. Enjoy

Journal Entry 15 by Kernow8 from Southampton, Hampshire United Kingdom on Thursday, May 13, 2004
Just received in the mail. This will come back to England with me next month and I'll mail it to Australia from there. Should be about 6 weeks with me - hopefully not much longer, although with a transatlantic move coming up things might slip. Anyway, I promise to mail it airmail to Australia to make up for any delays my end! Thanks!

Journal Entry 16 by Kernow8 from Southampton, Hampshire United Kingdom on Friday, July 9, 2004
Just a quick entry to reassure everyone that this book has not been forgotten! I'm about half way through, and although recently has been very busy and my reading progress slow (we're having all our furniture and personal effects delivered and moving back into our house this weekend after our stay in America, and to top that I've just finished a French dissertation that was due this week!) I expect to get stuck into it and finish it soon. All is well, so don't worry! It will be off to Australia soon...

Journal Entry 17 by Kernow8 from Southampton, Hampshire United Kingdom on Sunday, July 18, 2004
Finished at last! I can echo many of the comments above about it taking a while to get into the book - I felt I was plodding through the first 500 or so pages. I never felt as though I could abandon the book completely though as I wanted to find out three things:
1. What was the "unspeakable outrage" that drove the Meanys away from the Catholic church?
2. Who was Johnny Wheelwright's father?
3. How did Owen Meany die?
So the last chapter didn't disappoint me and I too raced through the last 100 pages in comparison with my earlier pace.

I enjoyed the political ranting of the older John Wheelwright too. Was it just me, or did anyone else see any striking similarities between the Reagan administration of the mid 80s and the current one under Bush? Those passages about how "to disapprove of our involvement in a particular war against the communists was not the same as taking the communists side" (P.142) - just find a substitute for communists (terrorists? possessors of WMDs?) and those sentiments definitely strike a chord.

Thanks SwissToni - apologies for holding onto this so long - it'll be in the post to Mundoo as soon as I've got her address.

Journal Entry 18 by Kernow8 from Southampton, Hampshire United Kingdom on Monday, July 19, 2004
Posted to Mundoo this morning.

Journal Entry 19 by Mundoo from Hindmarsh Island, South Australia Australia on Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Received the book today in the mail.
3rd in the TBR queue

Journal Entry 20 by Mundoo from Hindmarsh Island, South Australia Australia on Wednesday, September 1, 2004
What a diverse story. I read the first 3/4 of the book quite quickly but from that point on dragged my heels as the story seemed to lose it's tightness and become a bit boring. I did skip sections where John was waffling about the USA while he was Canada, and why he was in Canada in the first place, boring to me being a non-American. The Owen Meany story was interesting but I am not sure his birth and circumstances were adequately explained by his parents and the 'John's father' revelation didn't really add much to the story line. I am not sure I am convinced why John came to believe in God. At least the ending closed up all the loose threads.

Journal Entry 21 by Mundoo at By Mail in per Post, A Bookcrossing member -- Controlled Releases on Thursday, September 2, 2004

Released 19 yrs ago (9/2/2004 UTC) at By Mail in per Post, A Bookcrossing member -- Controlled Releases



Posted to sunny27

Journal Entry 22 by sunny27 from Gympie, Queensland Australia on Wednesday, September 8, 2004
Arrived yesterday. I'm so looking forward to this that I may neglect everything I have to do between now and next weekend.

Journal Entry 23 by sunny27 from Gympie, Queensland Australia on Monday, October 25, 2004
I just don't know what to say about this book.
I enjoyed it so much. I've awarded my first ever '10' rating. I'm finding it very difficult to read the next bookring I have in line.

As I was reading I was torn between dying to know what would happen and not wanting the book to end. I laughed out loud a couple of times and I got a bit weepy every now and again. I was even scared when people were closed up in the secret passageway. I never once thought it wasn't as good as the Irvings other books I've read. I found a copy of The Cider House Rules in a used bookshop last week and now I'm dying to get into it.

I'm never going to be religious and I would have put it down if it ever felt preachy, but it felt a bit like God was just another character in the novel. Why did they butcher it to make that film?

Is it a sign that I'm a permanent member of the Internet generation that for a long time the all capitals style that represented Owen's voice made me think he was shouting at me?

Just waiting on an address from Bilbi.

Journal Entry 24 by sunny27 at on Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Released on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 at about 3:00:00 AM BX time (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada) at sent to another bookcrosser in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Controlled Releases.


Posted today to Bilbi (of the very romantic address) in France

Journal Entry 25 by bilbi from Chambéry, Rhône-Alpes France on Saturday, November 13, 2004
Got it today by mail ! Nice postcard from Brisbane ! I'll read is ASAP... I'm just a beginner with Irving, I've only read The World According Garp so far - and I'm always frightened by the number of pages !!!!
Hope I won't keep the book too long...

Journal Entry 26 by bilbi from Chambéry, Rhône-Alpes France on Sunday, November 21, 2004
Reading Irving is such an experience ! From the start, I know that something was "wrong" about Owen. The last pages give the key to the story but questions remain as far as God's instrument is concerned for example. John's questioning about American policy in Vietnam echoes today's wars. Moreover John would be glad that I get the "wit" of this book ;-)
As far as my previous journal entry is concerned I sounded too much like some of the teenagers I meet in the library I work in. When they had to read a book but don't know which one to choose, they simply weigh them as if they were choosing vegetables and eventually chose the "lightest" ;-) That's the way I feel about this book. Last week I was so much afraid about the hugeness of the book that I may have miss a really enjoyable read !
Thank you for this 'ring !

Journal Entry 27 by wingNetstationwing from Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Monday, January 3, 2005
This much-travelled copy is now back in the UK. On its travels it's acquired that soft, slightly dog-eared look that favourite books *should* have. I suppose if it were a classic Jaguar it would be described as 'pre-loved' ;o)

It arrived on New Years Eve: so much for poor Bilbi paying extra for priority post. I expect it got caught in the Christmas rush. I've got a slim Reginald Hill book on the go which I'll dispatch with the same efficiency as Hill's murderers use for their victims, and then on to this. Thanks for the card Bilbi, and thanks Swisstoni for starting this ring. It will have to travel onwards quickly as I'm not sure the responsibility of having, as Tim's dedication inside reveals, 'my favourite copy of my favourite book' will sit lightly on my shoulders!

Journal Entry 28 by wingNetstationwing from Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Sunday, January 16, 2005
Well, what to say that hasn't already been said. I enjoyed this immensely, and while it doesn't rate a ten from me it's well up with my favourite books. Having been brought up in a strict Catholic environment I saw a lot of humour in the first section and didn't find it preachy at all. Like another journaller here I thought some of the long sections regarding Johnny's current circumstances in Canada were padding, and in fact more preachy in their digs at US customs and culture.

I'd pretty much guessed how the three principal plot devices would work out, but still think Irving does a great job of staving off the moment of illumination. I think for me the measure would have to be 'Would I read it again' and the answer is definitely yes. I'm sure there are more layers to it that are waiting to be discovered.

Only one thing really bugged me; as a long-time Pratchett fan of course it is only DEATH that speaks in all caps, and with a deep resonant voice. I had to keep reminding myself that Owen has a shrill falsetto voice.

This will be off to YowlYY later today. Thanks SwissToni for starting the ring, and for risking your favourite copy to the vagaries of the UK postal system. I think I'll send it insured! ;o)

Journal Entry 29 by YowlYY on Tuesday, January 18, 2005
With a "thump!" on the floor, the book, safely packed in a white and crispy jiffy bag, arrived in Bestwood on a frosty sunny morning...

"What...it isn't 'Dude, Where's My Country?'...what could it be then?!?!"

Thanks for shipping this, Netstation...I will bring Owen Meany now to the bedroom, where he can rest a bit after his trip around the world. I am in the middle of "The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse", to which "Big Stone Gap" will follow, but then I will attack this one with gusto. All the journal entries have made interesting points...let's see how much of my catholic upbringing I can find in here!

Update on 23.02.2005: I am halfway through! So far, I am enjoying the story very much, I only regret not to have had more time to read longer! However, I am about to go travelling for 3 days, which will give me more time to indulge with Owen's life. Yay!!

Journal Entry 30 by YowlYY on Saturday, March 5, 2005
It took a while to go through this novel, but not because it was a difficult read...it was just the timing when it arrived that has been a tough one! Sorry for keeping Owen here for so long!

There is not much that I can add here, which hasn't yet been said by all the other readers. It has been a bit of a task to get into Irving's narration, maybe because what I've read before was completely different...but yes, I loved this novel. There are so many humorous moments in this book, and especially the scene with John's grandma "WAILING LIKE A BANSHEE" made me laugh so hard that I was crying at the same time.
There is not a single part of this book I didn't enjoy...even the political parts, which not everyone may find interesting, were in my opinion so very timely with what is happening now (or is it the story of the US just the same old over and over again??).
A brilliant book - thanks Swiss-Toni for introducing me to Owen Meany and the symbolism of the armadillo.

I am shipping it on Monday to London to visit Estherase...happy reading!

Journal Entry 31 by estherase on Wednesday, March 9, 2005
And now it's mine... what a responsibility :)

I'll be as quick as I can, honest...

(Hello all you lot as well: good to see so many familiar names in the journal entries. And thanks SwissToni for the borrow).

Journal Entry 32 by estherase on Thursday, April 7, 2005
Wow! You were right sweetie, what a fabulous book. I need to read it again, so will be breaking one of my 43 things rules and buying myself a copy.

From the outset it reminded me strongly of Robertson Davies, so I was surprised and delighted to find references to him later on in the book. If anyone here fancies having the book this most strongly calls to mind ringed, let me know. Davies is well worth discovering.

I'll be PMing lady-mondegreen and will get this off ASAP..

Journal Entry 33 by Lady-Mondegreen from Basingstoke, Hampshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Wow!! This well travelled book is one of the first rings I signed up for back in Oct 03 so it is quite an event for it to arrive in my house. I am not able to be as active in bookcrossing at the moment but couldn't bring myself to say no after waiting so long! Hope it lives up to the star ratings & expectations!

Journal Entry 34 by Lady-Mondegreen from Basingstoke, Hampshire United Kingdom on Monday, May 30, 2005
I really should have “journal entered” this as soon as I finished it because life has a habit of tripping you up when you put things off and then it is quite hard to get back to ‘that place’ again, if you know what I mean?? I do know I enjoyed this book very much. It made me laugh and it made me cry and it passed my great book test, i.e. I was still thinking about it for days after I finished it. It has amazing characters and an excellent plot.I can hear Owen’s voice very well as I used to know a girl with just such a voice! (Spoiler alert… The image of the VW being driven downstairs is hilarious). I agree with some other reviewers about some of the heavy going chapters but it did not detract from my overall enjoyment. I will be posting this off to Hey-Miki next as Talkland did not reply.

Journal Entry 35 by hey-miki from -- Somewhere in London 🤷‍♀️ , Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, June 12, 2005
I arrived home from a short trip to Malta to find this book waiting expectantly! I'm looking forward to reading SwissToni's fave book. He's raved about it so much that I can't wait to get stuck in! (TBR permitting, of course :-( )

Journal Entry 36 by hey-miki from -- Somewhere in London 🤷‍♀️ , Greater London United Kingdom on Friday, September 16, 2005
Sorry I took so much time reading this. It was a long slog but I really enjoyed it! It was refreshingly original. Owen's character was brilliant. In fact all the characters were very colourful apart from the narrator who seemed to have no sparkle of his own. I liked the way the book kicked straight off with the dramatic event that set the whole story going... and the way the plot tied up so well. The various Owen pranks and incidents, like the car "theft", had me in hysterics!
I felt exactly the same as sunny27 - that Owen's capital letters were "shouty". But it made the "otherness" of his character come off the page in quite a clever way!

Thank you SwissToni for introducing me to a superb writer! I'll be sure to track down more John Irving books in the future.
Off to Aminida now

Journal Entry 37 by Amanida from Chertsey, Surrey United Kingdom on Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I'm really excited that it's finally come round to me! I think this was one of the first rings I signed up to and it's got so many journallers!
Just one little ring book ahead of it - I'll be starting soon.

Journal Entry 38 by Amanida from Chertsey, Surrey United Kingdom on Friday, October 7, 2005
Wow - I can't think of another book that has made me laugh and cry so much. What a brilliant and unique story, it's certainly one of my best all time reads. I'll be on the lookout for my own copy, though knowing the ending might spoil reading it again?
A rather spooky coincidence is that Randy White (the horrid headmaster) now appears to be working in HR in my company - a message from him appeared on our Intranet just while I was reading about him.
For the record, the book travelled with me to Newcastle and Barcelona (twice). I did try to take care of it, but I admit guilt for the pinkish stain on p.134 - a drop of red wine - I'm sorry, SwissToni. Thanks so much for letting the book travel - nearly home now. I'll post it to Nut tomorrow.

Journal Entry 39 by nut from Kilkenny City, Co. Kilkenny Ireland on Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Arrived safely! Next on the tbr queue...

Journal Entry 40 by nut from Kilkenny City, Co. Kilkenny Ireland on Thursday, November 17, 2005
Loved it! Like others, I found the narrator a bit preachy and Owen a bit shouty, and sometimes I got confused about where it was in time, but overall I greatly enjoyed it. I'm still curious about Owen Meany's parents. Was the father right?

On it's way back home now after more than two years!

Journal Entry 41 by SwissToni on Thursday, November 17, 2005
Well. After a journey that began in October 2003 and over the next two years took in the UK, the USA, Australia, France & Ireland, my favourite copy of my favourite book has finally arrived home in one piece. As Netstation mentions somewhere above, it now has that soft-edged feel that all favourite books should have. I also like the red wine stain. This is a book with a story to tell!

Thank you all for taking such good care of her and for sending me regular updates on her whereabouts... much appreciated. I hope that some of you enjoyed reading this book as much as I have over the years. John Irving is one of those satisfying authors who writes big meaty books... his latest is over 800 pages, and as soon as I've finished my NaNoWriMo novel --- 34,000 words and counting --- I'll be getting stuck into that!

Right now I think I'll pop this little beauty back onto my bookshelf where she belongs for a good long rest.

Thanks for playing everyone!


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