History of the Rain: Book summary and reviews of History of the Rain by Niall Williams

History of the Rain

by Niall Williams

History of the Rain by Niall Williams X
History of the Rain by Niall Williams
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  • Published in USA  May 2014
    368 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling. That's how it seems to me, being alive for a little while, the teller and the told.

So says Ruthie Swain. The bedridden daughter of a dead poet, home from college after a collapse (Something Amiss, the doctors say), she is trying to find her father through stories - and through generations of family history in County Clare (the Swains have the written stories, from salmon-fishing journals to poems, and the maternal MacCarrolls have the oral) and through her own writing (with its Superabundance of Style). Ruthie turns also to the books her father left behind, his library transposed to her bedroom and stacked on the floor, which she pledges to work her way through while she's still living.

In her attic room, with the rain rushing down the windows, Ruthie writes Ireland, with its weather, its rivers, its lilts, and its lows. The stories she uncovers and recounts bring back to life multiple generations buried in this soil - and they might just bring her back into the world again, too.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. You can smell the peat burning and feel the ever-present mist in acclaimed Irish novelist Williams' luscious paean to all who lose themselves in books. Williams captures the awe and all of Ireland - its myths and mysteries, miseries and magic - through the pitch-perfect voice of a saucily defiant young woman who has witnessed too much tragedy but who clings devotedly to those she's lost." - Booklist

"Starred Review. Destined to be a classic, Williams's seventh novel (after Boy and Man) isn't just the elegy Ruthie offers to the departed but also a love letter to reading and its life-giving powers. The author's voice and narrative remain utterly unique even as she invites comparisons to Jim Hawkins, Ishmael, and hosts of legendary literary narrators." - Library Journal

"[T]though the novel doesn't have a strong resolution, Williams makes so many good stylistic and storytelling choices that his latest is well worth the read." - Publishers Weekly

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Author Information

Niall Williams

Niall Williams was born in Dublin and studied at University College Dublin. His work includes stage plays, screenplays, nonfiction (co-written with his wife, Christine Breen), and, to date, seven novels. His first novel, Four Letters of Love, was an international bestseller, published in more than twenty countries, and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Williams has been twice nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the Irish Times Literature Prize. He lives in the west of Ireland.

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