Excerpt from Charming Billy by Alice McDermott, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Charming Billy

by Alice McDermott

Charming Billy
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  • First Published:
    Jan 1998, 280 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 1999, 243 pages

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"Poor Maeve has had her share of it?"

A pause as a waiter reached between them to remove the fruit-salad bowls, every one of them whispering. Thank you, thank you, and then Thank you again as another waiter leaned in to put down the lunch.

"Doesn't this look good?"

"And the plates are nice and warm."

"They're doing a nice job, aren't they? I wonder how she found this place." "The undertaker, I'm sure. He probably gets a commission."

"He sent her the money," Kate continued. "Eva, that is. The Irish girl. He sent her about five hundred dollars. I think."

"Which was a lot of money in those days." Someone was required to say it.

"It certainly was"--and to second.

"He sent her the money in the spring sometime, this would have been in '46. And she wrote back to say she was busy making plans, you know, arrangements for coming back over. Lord, he was like a man waiting for a bus in those days. The sun couldn't rise and set fast enough. He was hoping she would come over before the summer ended, so they could spend their honeymoon together, but on Long Island, in the little house, Holtzman's house, but where they'd first met. I don't know where he thought they were going to live after the honeymoon--remember what it was like, trying to find an apartment then?"

It was remembered. It was also noted that the roast beef was very tender, very moist. Better this splash of juice than a thick gravy.

From Charming Billy, by Alice McDermott. © 1997 by Alice McDermott, used by permission of the publisher Farrar Stead & Giroux

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