BookBrowse Reviews After This by Alice McDermott

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After This

A Novel

by Alice McDermott

After This by Alice McDermott
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2006, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2007, 288 pages

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Her sure authorial hand illuminates the inner lives of these ordinary people in a way that resonates beyond the mundane to the broad human condition. Novel

It's a mistake to rush a McDermott novel, because in doing so you might miss the little details that make the whole worthwhile. In After This, she revisits the familiar ground of an Irish Catholic family living on Long Island, this time focusing on the Keane family from the mid 1940s up until the 1970s.  By setting her books in essentially the same location and around the same type of people time after time, McDermott is able to bring her magnifying glass to bear on the little details, subtly digging deep into the psyches of her characters - focusing on the fleeting thoughts and gestures, and the apparently trivial events, the sort that are rarely recorded in photo albums but are the bedrock of family life.

Although the Keane family consists of equal numbers of males and females, it feels that McDermott's focus, intentionally or otherwise, is more on the lives of the women. At the heart of this, and her other novels, are simple but profound questions: How do normal, simple people find reason and hope to keep going day after day? How do we build and preserve the stories inside every family in the face of the inevitable sorrows that confront us? How do we balance faith, family and friendship, let alone love?

This review was originally published in October 2006, and has been updated for the September 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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