The House of Slamming Doors

Rated 4.80 out of 5 based on 5 customer ratings
(5 customer reviews)


‘My name is Justin Alexander Torquhil Edward Peregrine Montague, but my father calls me ‘you little bollocks’, or when he is in a good mood, ‘old cock’.’

It’s 1963 in a country house in west Wicklow during the heady summer of JFK’s visit to Ireland. Turbulence is in the air as Justin is locked in combat with his angry and inebriate father. A dark and poignant comedy unfolds and progresses to winter as Kennedy is assassinated and Justin ends his oedipal struggle and comes of age.

Replete with the perennial tensions between native and settler, servant and master, Camelot and Leinster House, this poignant tale concerns identity and first love, and the pain of a knowing child living amongst aliens. Told with the panache of Roddy Doyle crossed with J.D. Salinger, it conveys the spirit of a bygone age and the very present emotions of a fast-growing boy. It is a masterful debut novel.

“A subtler kind of Irish eccentricity pervades The House of Slamming Doors. Set at the time of President Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963, Mark Macauley’s enjoyable tale of a dysfunctional clan of Anglo-Irish aristocrats centers on 13-year-old Justin Montague, heir to a rural estate, who enrages his bullying father by befriending a servant’s daughter. But there is equal pleasure in its depiction of the time-warped world of the big house, stuck uneasily between the ears of the wind-up gramophone and the Dansette record-player.” – The Financial Times

“The funniest, most beguiling, cruelly dysfunctional family ever.” – John Boorman

“Packed with hilarious incident and pathos…an audacious one-off.” – The Guardian

“This Ireland is lyrical and vibrant and honest.” – Carol Birch, The Times Literary Supplement

MARK MACAULEY was born in 1956 and raised on the edge of the Wicklow Mountains. He lives between London and Africa and makes documentaries and writes screenplays. This is his first novel.

Also available as an ebook

5 reviews for The House of Slamming Doors

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Lilliput Press

    “I can’t sing the praises of this wonderful little book enough. Being a fly-on-the-wall at this grand, dysfunctional – down-right weird – Anglo-Irish family home threw up all kinds of unintended reminiscences in my mind. It’s so funny, but also profoundly sad and surprisingly moving. I thought that the brutish father’s awful little dog was a wonderful touch. One of the most enjoyable reads I’ve had in a long time.” W ROBINSON

  2. Rated 4 out of 5

    Lilliput Press

    “Effortless writing carries you from the first funny page to the very last tragi-comic one. It’s one of those books you slow down as a reader when you know it’s coming to an end. It is well worth it from beginning to end as Macauley paints his story in deceptively simple prose conjuring a vivid picture of a wild time growing up in 1960s rural Ireland before the days of Health and Safety on farms or any kind of employment protection! Much is alluded to, lots more simply suggested, but every implication tells a story in itself and it is, moreover, a book to make you laugh out loud at times. I was recommended it and I am very glad I picked it up.” IAN SKELLY

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    Lilliput Press

    “Got a copy of this book, The House of Slamming Doors, from an Irish friend. This book is a refreshing change to that pervasive Irish novel genre: the miserable, abused working class chid of late 50s repressed Ireland. It’s a toffs version! But it’s very funny, if a tiny bit miserable!

    Young Justin grows up in the cold and loveless Anglo Irish pile a bus ride away from Dublin. His father holds firm to the repressed emotions of the English upper class of a bygone age. A repression made worse by dark shenanigans long ago before Justin was born but somehow seem to be his t fault. He is nearly oedipal in his relationship with his elegant English mother but it turns out that she is no paragon of virtue (or anything else). Justin is, of course, the butt and target of his father’s, anger, frustration and cuckolding an explosive mixture destined at some stage to blow up right over Justin’s head.

    This is a page turning novel. The unravelling of the unkindnesses and infidelities committed even before Justin was born combined with the inevitable injustices that are delivered to the innocent house servants and farm hands is gripping stuff. However for an English reader perhaps the most fun (and there are some very funny bits) is the authentic voice of the Irish and early sixties Ireland that pervades this book. The timbre, native wit and poetry of the rural Irish of half a century ago and the Anglo Irish alcohol inspired expletives of a declining ruling class increasingly irrelevant but no less arbitrary in its cruelty paint a vivid picture.

    Funny, sad and cruel but I did enjoy it!” ANTHONY DAWTON

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    Lilliput Press

    “I picked up Mark Macauley’s book last night, read three chapters, and today with an unexpected day off, I settled down to read the remainder. After the first three chapters, I realised I was in for a treat, and reading the rest of the book was like taking a long bus or train journey sitting beside a total stranger who talked this book at me. Some stranger companions on long journeys you hope will get off at the next stop. This stranger was nothing short of the very best travelling companion. Funny, sad, poignant with a familiar sense of frustration, but with an outstanding ability to just say it how it was. In the midst of many every day troubles, Mark’s book totally took me out of my own self and I was transported to the Wicklow Mountains and just loved reading snippets of his childhood. Great great book, and I sincerely hope he will write the next few chapters of his life again as a novel.” K VON SCHENK

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    Lilliput Press

    “House of Slamming Doors is an enviable first novel. McCauley’s brilliant observations of the Irish sense of humour had me in stitches on more than one occasion on the Tube. (However my English partner didn’t get the pacing of the jokes at all). I am still laughing at Father Luke’s first mass. I especially liked how the story was bookended by JFK’s visit to Ireland and assassination – this racked the tension up towards the end to an unbearable degree. Well worth a read – I plan to send copies to elderly relatives back home.” LINDSAY STRONGE

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Weight 0.25 kg

May 2010


210 x 135mm, 208pp