Alice McDermotts powerful novel is a vivid portrait of an
American family in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Witty,
compassionate, and wry, it captures the social, political, and
spiritual upheavals of those decades through the experiences of a
middle-class couple, their four children, and the changing worlds in
which they live.
While Michael and Annie Keane taste the alternately intoxicating and bitter first fruits of the sexual revolution, their older, more tentative brother, Jacob, lags behind, until he finds himself on the way to Vietnam. Meanwhile, Clare, the youngest child of their aging parents, seeks to maintain an almost saintly innocence. After This, alive with the passions and tragedies of a determining era in our history, portrays the clash of traditional, faith-bound life and modern freedom, while also capturing, with McDermotts inimitable understanding and grace, the joy, sorrow, anger, and love that underpin, and undermine, what it is to be a family.
Leaving the church, she felt the wind rise, felt the pinprick of pebble and
grit against her stockings and her cheeksthe slivered shards of mad sunlight in
her eyes. She paused, still on the granite steps, touched the brim of her hat
and the flying hem of her skirtfelt the wind rush up her cuffs and rattle her
And all before her, the lunch-hour crowd bent under the April sun and into the bitter April wind, jackets flapping and eyes squinting, or else skirts pressed to the backs of legs and jacket hems pressed to bottoms. And trailing them, outrunning them, skittering along the gutter and the sidewalk and the low gray steps of the church, banging into ankles and knees and one another, scraps of paper, newspapers, candy wrappers, what else?office memos? shopping lists? The paper detritus that she had somewhere read, or had heard it said, trails armies, or was it (she had seen a photograph) the scraps of letters and wrappers and ...
It's a mistake to rush a McDermott novel because in doing so you might miss the little details that make the whole thing worthwhile - the fleeting thoughts and gestures that are her forte, and the the apparently trivial events - the sort that are rarely recorded in the photo album but are the bedrock of every family life.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (589 words).
Alice McDermott was born in Brooklyn,
New York in 1953. Her first novel, A
Bigamists' Daughter, was published
to wide acclaim in 1982. That Night
(1987) was a finalist for the Pulitzer
Prize and the National Book Award. At
Weddings and Wakes (1992) was a
New York Times bestseller.
Charming Billy (1998), won the
National Book Award.
Child of My Heart followed in
She received her B.A. in 1975 from the State University of New York at Oswego, and her M.A. in 1978 from the University of New Hampshire. She has taught ...
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