The Man Who Was Thursday

A Nightmare
Author(s): 
G.K. Chesterton
Copyright: 
1908
Publisher: 
Ignatius Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
289 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

The Man Who Was Thursday is a great classic, beloved by many, and not easy to do justice to in a review (even after reading it twice, leading a teen discussion on the book and attending a Chesterton conference which particularly highlighted this book!), but I'll give it my best shot.

This is a quirky enigmatic detective story (or at least, a story about detectives) that is great fun as a read-aloud. I first read it aloud to my children almost two years ago and it captured the attention and the imagination of the 8, 10 and 13 year olds. It's incredibly well-crafted, funny and deep all at the same time; you'll find loads of interesting symbolism and a strong religious undertone. It sometimes frustrates adults who want to understand it all at once and yet delights the younger set. What a curious book!

We own this book on audio as well, so my children have listened to it over and over again. We've all found wonderful tidbits that are applicable to things we're doing or thinking about. It just comes to mind over and over again.

I love the themes of anarchy and the poetry of order. Here's a lovely sample:

"I tell you," went on Syme with passion, "that every time a train comes in I feel that it has broken past batteries of besiegers, and that man has won a battle against chaos. You say contemptuously that when one has left Sloane Square one must come to Victoria. I say that one might do a thousand things instead, and that whenever I really come there I have the sense of hair-breadth escape. And when I hear the guard shout out the word 'Victoria,' it is not an unmeaning word. It is to me the cry of a herald announcing conquest. It is to me indeed 'Victoria'; it is the victory of Adam."

This book is a light read in many ways (for teens and up or as a read-aloud to younger children) and yet will keep you thinking and discussing for a long time! I very much enjoyed this title in our teen literature discussion group - we didn't necessarily agree on the ways we looked at various parts of the book, but everyone loved the book (certainly not always the case in our group!) and it was one of the most lively and interesting discussions we've ever had!

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1-21-2008
Reviewed by: 
Alicia Van Hecke