A stirring novel about idealism laid waste and the haunting, redemptive bonds of friendship. Red Rover tells the story of three Montana men who get swept up in the machinations of World War II and its fateful aftermath. As boys, Aidan and Neil Tierney ride horseback for miles across unfenced prairie, picturing themselves as gauchos, horsemen of the Argentine pampas. A hundred miles away, Roland Taliaferro wants only to escape the violence and poverty of his family. As war approaches, Aidan and Roland join the FBI. Roland serves Stateside while Aidanin a gesture as exuberant as a child in a game of Red Roverrequests hazardous duty and is sent as an undercover agent to Nazi-ridden Argentina. Neil becomes a B-29 bomber pilot.
Aidan returns to Montana ill, shaken, and divided from Roland over the FBIs role in the war. On a cold December day in 1946, he is found fatally shot, an apparent suicide. The FBI stays silent. Only when Neil and Roland are very old men, meeting by chance in a rehabilitation facility, does Aidans death become illuminated, atoned for, and fully put to rest. This beautifully crafted, far- ranging novel will catch readers up in the grace and hard truths of the lives it unfolds.
"Starred Review. McNamer's insight into her damaged cast generates a deep emotional response that builds toward a reunion and revelation that bring satisfaction, if not peace." - PW.
"Ms. McNamer's novel is vividly observed and original [actually entirely engrossing] in its conception. She's a wonderfully smart and surprising sentence-writer, and the burnish on this work has left not a word out of place. This is 'the novel as story-telling.' And it is of a very high order." - Richard Ford.
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Rated of 5
Coming-of-(old)-age in Montana
Novels set in familiar places are often a disappointment. We expect the places and institutions and people to be accurate, even though we know that the author has a license to write fiction. So I came to this novel - Red Rover by Deirdre McNamer - anchored in the Sweet Grass Hills of Montana (ancestral homestead of my father) prepared to say "That's not how it is." But Deidre McNamer got the Hills, and the story's transect south to Butte and Missoula, exactly true to place.
A few years ago, during a family vigil at a residential nursing facility (coincidentally, in Missoula), I matched up the often silent and wheelchair-ridden residents with the photos and biographies of their younger selves, posted at their room entrances. In Red Rover, these life stories come in decadal chapters that mostly work in time-tidal rhythms, working forward from the 1920's and backwards from the present, slowly revealing the wartime betrayal of a favorite son (" ,,, a time collision so violent it threw certain humans away").
This is a coming-of-age novel, not just of adolescence, but of the greater courage needed near the end of life. In the end, McNamer shows us the survivors. Those who are uprooted and transplanted do poorly. Those who are at home, who don't need a GPS unit to know exactly where they are, are rooted and ready.
Rated of 5
A Book Worth Reading
When I read a book, I am cognizant of various aspects of the novel--character and plot development, setting, author style, etc. This novel met all of my expectations. I could relate with the characters; the plot was intriguing, and the writer's style was fascinating. Her use of figures of speech was remarkable, adding to the flow of the words on the page.
The characters were sympathetic--ones who will remain in my memory because of their very human characteristics and relationships. Their lives were so aptly and profoundly woven together by McNamer.
Mystery, intrigue, suspense--this novel has it all. It would lend itself well for a book group discussion.
Rated of 5
In a style as brisk and astringent as the wind blowing across the Montana plains, McNamer tells the story of brothers Neil and Aidan Tierney. The author is deft at
both delineating characters, and evoking times and places. Book clubs could find grist for the mill here.
Rated of 5
Lovely prose but.....
I wanted to like this book because the prose is so beautifully done, but the plot gets lost in all the description and mood setting. You have to be reading very carefully in order to catch the plot advancement. Because of the history and time period this could have been a really good book if it had been structured differently. Close, but no cigar.
Rated of 5
Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Deirdre Over
An intriguing story is slowly revealed bit by bit in Deirdre McNamer’s new novel, Red Rover.
I found the book compelling to read. Both the vocabulary and sentence structure invited my brain to awaken, take action and to dust off any lingering neuro-cobwebs that have accumulated therein from lack of use.
Red Rover took me back to my early childhood during W.W.II and to the feeling of what it was like to be a young person in the USA following the war. While the state of Montana, USA, has only been a vacation destination for me, it’s rough and natural beauty was once again brought to life through her quiet descriptions.
The men, and women, that live and breathe within the story’s atmosphere (comprised of both time and place) are both distinctly individual and commonly human. Each character lives knowing or discovering the meaning of his/her own life.
I chose to read Red Rover, because I have enjoyed reading books written by Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy has portrayed the strong bonds that men can build with each other and the deep feelings that they acknowledge within themselves. Yes, those bonds and acknowledgments are present in Red Rover, also. I now enjoy adding Deirdre McNamer to my list of authors who can remind me of the strength and beauty residing in some human beings.
Five stars. ***** Highly recommended for all, excepting the very young. Should inspire lively discussions in book groups.
Rated of 5
I really struggled to get through this book. While I was interested to learn more about the actual plot, I did not find any of the characters engaging. I really tried to care enough about at least one of them in order to persevere through the text. I never got to that point so the book became tedious.
Deirdre McNamer is the author of the acclaimed novels Rima in the Weeds, One Sweet Quarrel, and My Russian. She has won praise for the intelligence, beauty, precision, and sweep of her fiction. This is her first novel in seven years.
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