NOTHING QUITE LIKE IT by Nicholas Grene tells the story of an unusual childhood.  The child of academic parents, the author was transplanted from Illinois to rural Wicklow in the 1950s.  While his classicist father continued to spend part of the year teaching at the University of Chicago, he with his sister and philosopher mother Marjorie Grene settled down on the family farm in Ballinaclash. With this mixed background, he provides the sharp-eyed and affectionate perspective of an outsider on his experiences of childhood and adolescence; schooldays as just one of thirteen children in the local Protestant National School; the day-to-day work on a farm still worked with horses; the rigours of boarding school in Drogheda from the age of nine; the very different scene represented by living in Belfast; simultaneously starting college and farming on his own account. This vivid and wryly humorous memoir recalls a vanished world from a unique angle.


NICHOLAS GRENE was born in Chicago but moved with his family to live on a farm in Ballinaclash in Co Wicklow in 1952.  He went to school in Drogheda and Belfast, before going on to university at Trinity College and Cambridge. After a time working in Liverpool, he returned to teach in Trinity, where he is now Professor of English

Literature. Since his student days, he has continued to farm part-time in Ballinaclash, where he and his wife have brought up four children.

‘Nicholas Grene, ever an elegant prose stylist, has here put his gifts to a surprising and vivid memoir, treating his memories of early life, of family, faith and farming with a sort of classical acuity; pitched somewhere between Virgil and Seamus Heaney, between Samuel Butler and Holden Caulfield, he has written a genuinely lovely book.’

‘The book is a labour of loving memories of happenings, places and people and eccentric parents. It has great charm.’

“A wonderfully evocative and endearing story of belonging and not belonging...this quietly unsensational and unusual memoir should have a long life” HERMIONE LEE

“This is a picture of an Irish childhood and complex heritage, written with ease and integrity, honesty and grace" COLM TOIBIN

€14.99/£11.99/ $19.50


ISBN: 978 0 9562231 59
234 x 156 mm
September 2011