The Visitors: Book summary and reviews of The Visitors by Patrick O'Keeffe

The Visitors

by Patrick O'Keeffe

The Visitors by Patrick O'Keeffe
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2014
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

As he did so masterfully in the connected novellas of The Hill Road, Patrick O'Keeffe's first novel moves back and forth in time and place to weave the story of two Irish families forever linked by love, secrets, and their heritage.

James Dwyer was born in rural county Limerick before moving to Dublin as a teenager and ultimately settling in Ann Arbor. One night James's past appears in the form of a down-and-out man named Walter, who issues an invitation for James to come to Upstate New York to visit his old childhood neighbor, Kevin Lyons. Although neither James nor Kevin particularly cares for each other, there's no denying their complicated past. Kevin and James's sister, Tess, were lovers while James fell hard for Kevin's sister, Una.

Illuminating the precarious balance of family intimacies and how stories can carry over from one generation to the next, O'Keeffe's The Visitors further delivers on the elegant prose and plotting that earned him critical acclaim and the Story Prize for The Hill Road.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The very air Jimmy breathes seems rife with memory - not only his, but his family's - pregnant with the secrets of those who went before him. By the time all is revealed, the reader is captivated and moved." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. O'Keeffe closely observes human interactions and conveys his narrative largely through glistening dialogue that has the feel of Celtic folk poetry." - Kirkus

"[O'Keeffe] weaves a poignant tale of hope and loss that is colorful and engaging in its detail and highly recommended." - Booklist

"O'Keeffe paints a picture of self-centered introspection, Irish gloom, and the ironic repetition of events from generation to generation that will appeal to most fiction readers." - Library Journal

"How well Patrick O'Keeffe knows the difficulties of leaving the past behind. I am full of admiration for his long view of history and family and the way he gradually reveals both in this wonderfully intelligent novel. The Visitors is a work of many pleasures." - Margot Livesey

"In Patrick O'Keeffe's The Visitors, the past is constantly catching up to, and overtaking, the present, and the result is this haunted and beautiful book that culminates in violence that's both inevitable and surprising. A wonderful first novel." - Charles Baxter

"The tangle of family life - the perils of escape, the perils of staying - is written into a novel of rare emotional authenticity." - Joan Silber

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Patrick O'Keeffe emigrated from Ireland to the United States in the mid-1980s. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and earned a MFA from the University of Michigan. He now teaches at Ohio University and lives in Athens, Ohio.

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