It's been decades since I have felt so clearly that English is not my first language as in the first 100 or so pages of this book. Then I decided to give up on trying to decipher every word of every sentence and just go with the flow. Either the writing got easier or the meaning became clearer, but I got completely sucked into this story. Obviously, this book would be easier to read if you're Irish, devoutly catholic and it would probably help if you happened to have lived in the early 20th century (in Ireland). However, lacking any or all that should NOT stop you from reading this book! Beautiful is the only word that describes it.
I loved Jim and I loved Doyler, that was easy to do, but I even came to care deeply for the characters that I thought would remain caricatures, like Mr. Mack. This made the ending impossibly moving and gut-wrenching, but I suppose inevitable. It being Irish and all.