Gone So Long: Book summary and reviews of Gone So Long by Andre Dubus III

Gone So Long

by Andre Dubus III

Gone So Long by Andre Dubus III X
Gone So Long by Andre Dubus III
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Oct 2, 2018
    480 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Andre Dubus III's first novel in a decade is a masterpiece of thrilling tension and heartrending empathy.

Few writers can enter their characters so completely or evoke their lives as viscerally as Andre Dubus III. In this deeply compelling new novel, a father, estranged for the worst of reasons, is driven to seek out the daughter he has not seen in decades.

Daniel Ahearn lives a quiet, solitary existence in a seaside New England town. Forty years ago, following a shocking act of impulsive violence on his part, his daughter, Susan, was ripped from his arms by police. Now in her forties, Susan still suffers from the trauma of a night she doesn't remember, as she struggles to feel settled, to love a man and create something that lasts. Lois, her maternal grandmother who raised her, tries to find peace in her antique shop in a quaint Florida town but cannot escape her own anger, bitterness, and fear.

Cathartic, affirming, and steeped in the empathy and precise observations of character for which Dubus is celebrated, Gone So Long explores how the wounds of the past afflict the people we become, and probes the limits of recovery and absolution.

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Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Though the entire cast is vividly drawn, perhaps most impressive is how Dubus elicits sympathy in the reader for Danny, whose life effectively ended the moment he picked up the knife. This is a compassionate and wonderful novel." - Publishers Weekly

"Dubus is in his gritty wheelhouse, exploring the question of how we live with our mistakes and whether we can ever stop adding to them." - Kirkus

"Dubus evokes a dazzling palette of emotions as he skillfully unpacks the psychological tensions between remorse and guilt, fear and forgiveness, anger and love. Susan, Daniel, and Lois are fully realized and authentic characters who live with pain and heartache while struggling to fill the tremendous void created by the tragedy. Heartrending yet unsentimental, this powerful testament to the human spirit asks what it means to atone for the unforgivable and to empathize with the broken." - Booklist

"Gone So Long is an astonishment. I love this book so much, the humanity in it. I love every single person in it, they are so real, these people - I know them and love them all. I wept for them, I did. Dubus is just so good and real and true, he doesn't pull one sentimental punch the whole time - extraordinary. I thought about those people as I was walking down the sidewalk, and they are inside me as well, not just thoughts that go by. I love this book to pieces." - Elizabeth Strout, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Olive Kitteridge

"I tore through this haunting novel about people driven by pain beyond the reach of love and forgiveness, and the roads they use as they seek their way back. It hits just the right note at the end, and I'll be thinking about Susan a long time. A hell of a read." - Phil Klay, National Book Award–winning author of Redeployment

"Well, he's done it again, hasn't he? What a gorgeous heartbreaker of a book. Dubus's compassion is unsentimental and unblinking, total and unwavering. That and sheer artistry makes Gone So Long dark and radiant, beautiful and never to be forgotten." - Paul Harding, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Tinkers

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Reader Reviews

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Barbara F. (Santa Monica, CA)

A Heartbreaking Story That's Hard to Forget
This is Andre Dubus III's first novel in a decade, and it's a wrenching, compassionate story of deep regret and irretrievable loss.I was spellbound at Dubus's ability to evoke his characters' so viscerally, but at the same time, confess that 1/3 through, it almost became too much for me to continue.
"Gone So Long" is a beautifully written story about a father—a broken man—estranged from his daughter for the most tragic of reasons, who's compelled to find her after decades apart. Daniel Ahearn lives a lonely existence in a small seaside New England town. Forty years ago, after committing a shocking act of impulsive violence, his 3 year old daughter Susan, was taken from his arms by police. Now in her forties, she still suffers from the trauma of an event she doesn't really remember, and struggles to love a wonderful husband and create a sustainable life together.
Her maternal grandmother Lois, raised her and is trying to live a peaceful life in a quaint Florida town but is unable to escape her own anger, bitterness, and fear.
"Gone So Long" is a haunting exploration of how past wounds can sometimes make efforts for reconciliation beyond the "reach of love and forgiveness...", as author Phil Klay writes on the book's back cover.

Sandra L. (Delray Beach, FL)

Gone So Long
Wow, what a read! A very gritty and emotional (for me) story. I am still thinking back on parts of my own life as it somewhat parallels Susan's. Dubus was right on with his character development -- I felt that I knew them all. When is it okay to let go of the anger and hurt? Where do we find love? And how much is enough? He really is a very talented man and I loved this book.

Dorothy M. (Maynard, MA)

Another exceptional book by Andre Dubus III
Andre Dubus III is always worth reading. In his latest book, Gone So Long, he has his character Susan, a teacher and aspiring writer say "…my love for stories that brought me into the dark bottomless hearts of others." And I think that is probably a good description of the stories he tells us. Writing from a depth of knowledge of people who live on the edge, this time he tells us the story of Susan, her grandmother Lois, and Susan's father Daniel who 40 years ago had done the unforgivable thing. And - now at the end of his life - hopes that there may be, if not forgiveness, perhaps an opportunity to be seen. It is a book about despair, anger fueled by guilt, and uncontrollable desperation and yet it is a hopeful book. Dubus' writing is as always beautiful, full of descriptions that will take you to places you probably haven't seen, including deep inside his characters who are doing their best to survive. Highly recommended.

Maribeth R. (Indianapolis, IN)

Can A Sin Be Forgiven?
I have long been a fan of Dubus' novel House of Sand and Fog. I am reminded of that story by this volume because, once again, Dubus is skillfully able to create a story which is thrown into a downward spiraling vortex. A single act propels Danny into this vortex, and the reader is unable to predict whether he will fall farther, or be lifted up. Anger from his daughter, Susie, with whom he has had no relationship for forty years, along with the rage of his former mother-in-law beat down on his efforts to find forgiveness. Time is not on his side as he makes a final effort. Will Susie understand?

This book is well-written, but sometimes difficult to follow. Less of the "novel in the novel" would have been preferred by this reader, and thus made me choose the four rating, rather than a five. Dubus' language is often dark and visceral, and a reader will find it difficult not to experience the depth of the pain of the characters. You won't leave this book without a lingering sense of the consequences of the act, the need for forgiveness, and the burden of hatred and rage.

As for me, I will be awaiting the author's next novel.

Donna W. (Wauwatosa, WI)

Gone So Long
This author paints such beautiful pictures with his words, that everything is clearly seen. The images are so vivid and the characters are so real that anyone who enjoys character driven books will enjoy this novel. The book is not an easy read though, and the story is not at all uplifting.

Even though the imaging was terrific, the over-abundance of it throughout the whole book slowed the story down a bit for me in the middle. It did pick up again in the end, and on the whole was a good read.

Betty B. (Irving, TX)

Gone So Long - A Really Long Book
Three people are still suffering from a 40-year-old trauma...David Ahearn whose impulsive act of violence causes him to lose his daughter; his daughter, Susan, who has never gotten over that night she can't remember; and Susan's maternal grandmother whose life has never been the same. At 447 pages, the author slowly develops his story of how these three people try to find recovery and absolution. For me the book is just too long for the story it tells, and would have been better had it been edited to be much tighter. I generally like longer books that really develop characters and story-lines, but I found it difficult to finish this book.

...1 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Andre Dubus III Author Biography

Photo: Marion Ettlinger

Before finding his calling as a writer, Andre Dubus III (b. Oceanside, California) worked for brief stints as a bounty hunter, private investigator, carpenter, bartender, actor, and teacher. His first book, The Cage Keeper and Other Stories, was published in 1989, followed in 1993 by his first novel, Bluesman.

For the next few years, he taught and did odd jobs as a carpenter while working on House of Sand and Fog (a National Book Award finalist in 1999 and 2003 movie). Much of the book was written in his car, which he often parked at a local cemetery in search of quiet and solitude. His characters were inspired by two people whose predicaments had stuck in his mind for years: a woman he read about in the newspaper who was wrongly evicted from her house and forced to live in ...

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Link to Andre Dubus III's Website

Name Pronunciation
Andre Dubus III: ahn-dray duh-BYOOSE (last syllable rhymes with use)

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