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Coming-of-(old)-age in Montana
Novels set in familiar places are often a disappointment. We expect the places and institutions and people to be accurate, even though we know that the author has a license to write fiction. So I came to this novel - Red Rover by Deirdre McNamer - anchored in the Sweet Grass Hills of Montana (ancestral homestead of my father) prepared to say "That's not how it is." But Deidre McNamer got the Hills, and the story's transect south to Butte and Missoula, exactly true to place.
A Book Worth Reading
A few years ago, during a family vigil at a residential nursing facility (coincidentally, in Missoula), I matched up the often silent and wheelchair-ridden residents with the photos and biographies of their younger selves, posted at their room entrances. In Red Rover, these life stories come in decadal chapters that mostly work in time-tidal rhythms, working forward from the 1920's and backwards from the present, slowly revealing the wartime betrayal of a favorite son (" ,,, a time collision so violent it threw certain humans away").
This is a coming-of-age novel, not just of adolescence, but of the greater courage needed near the end of life. In the end, McNamer shows us the survivors. Those who are uprooted and transplanted do poorly. Those who are at home, who don't need a GPS unit to know exactly where they are, are rooted and ready.
When I read a book, I am cognizant of various aspects of the novel--character and plot development, setting, author style, etc. This novel met all of my expectations. I could relate with the characters; the plot was intriguing, and the writer's style was fascinating. Her use of figures of speech was remarkable, adding to the flow of the words on the page.
The characters were sympathetic--ones who will remain in my memory because of their very human characteristics and relationships. Their lives were so aptly and profoundly woven together by McNamer.
Mystery, intrigue, suspense--this novel has it all. It would lend itself well for a book group discussion.
In a style as brisk and astringent as the wind blowing across the Montana plains, McNamer tells the story of brothers Neil and Aidan Tierney. The author is deft at
Lovely prose but.....
both delineating characters, and evoking times and places. Book clubs could find grist for the mill here.
I wanted to like this book because the prose is so beautifully done, but the plot gets lost in all the description and mood setting. You have to be reading very carefully in order to catch the plot advancement. Because of the history and time period this could have been a really good book if it had been structured differently. Close, but no cigar.
Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Deirdre Over
An intriguing story is slowly revealed bit by bit in Deirdre McNamer’s new novel, Red Rover.
I found the book compelling to read. Both the vocabulary and sentence structure invited my brain to awaken, take action and to dust off any lingering neuro-cobwebs that have accumulated therein from lack of use.
Red Rover took me back to my early childhood during W.W.II and to the feeling of what it was like to be a young person in the USA following the war. While the state of Montana, USA, has only been a vacation destination for me, it’s rough and natural beauty was once again brought to life through her quiet descriptions.
The men, and women, that live and breathe within the story’s atmosphere (comprised of both time and place) are both distinctly individual and commonly human. Each character lives knowing or discovering the meaning of his/her own life.
I chose to read Red Rover, because I have enjoyed reading books written by Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy has portrayed the strong bonds that men can build with each other and the deep feelings that they acknowledge within themselves. Yes, those bonds and acknowledgments are present in Red Rover, also. I now enjoy adding Deirdre McNamer to my list of authors who can remind me of the strength and beauty residing in some human beings.
Five stars. ***** Highly recommended for all, excepting the very young. Should inspire lively discussions in book groups.
I really struggled to get through this book. While I was interested to learn more about the actual plot, I did not find any of the characters engaging. I really tried to care enough about at least one of them in order to persevere through the text. I never got to that point so the book became tedious.
Wonderful story! The characters are fully developed, and the descriptions of time and place make you feel like you are there. It is a story of family but also one of suspense and with a little bit of history thrown in. I would recommend this book for men and women and for book clubs.
Not an easy read, but well worth the effort
Overall, I love this book. But...it is not easy to get into, and it jumps back and forth in both time and characters. It's like a fine instrument that is in need of tuning, one string, or note (or character) at a time. The process is a little scratchy, but when the tuning is done, the symphony is wonderful. The characters start out as children in the 20's, and travel back and forth in time through the 2nd World War and into nursing homes and senility. It's a well written, eloquent book. I would think a book club could have a wonderful time dissecting the characters and events, because as the narrative jumps from one era and character to another, it does get confusing, and each reader will follow it in his own way, filling in any missing pieces.