Summary and book reviews of Tender by Belinda McKeon

Tender

by Belinda McKeon

Tender by Belinda McKeon X
Tender by Belinda McKeon
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2016, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2017, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
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About this Book

Book Summary

A searing novel about longing, intimacy and obsession from the award-winning author of Solace.

When they meet in Dublin in the late nineties, Catherine and James become close friends. She is a sheltered college student, he an adventurous, charismatic young artist. In a city brimming with possibilities, he spurs her to take life on with gusto. But as Catherine opens herself to new experiences, James's life becomes a prison, walled off by a truth he feels unable to share. When crisis hits, Catherine finds herself at the mercy of uncontrollable feelings, leading her to jeopardize everything.

By turns exhilarating and devastating, Tender is an exploration of human relationships, of the lies we tell ourselves and others. A high-wire act with psychological insights, this daring novel confirms McKeon as a major voice in Irish fiction, alongside the masterful Edna O'Brien and Anne Enright.

Dreams fled away, and something about a bedroom, and something about a garden, seen through an open window; and a windfall, something about a windfall—a line which made Catherine see apples, bruising and shriveling and rotting into the ground. Windfall-sweetened soil; that was it. And, the flank of an animal, rubbing against a bedroom wall—though that could not be right, could it? But it was in there somewhere, she knew it was; something of it had bobbed up in herconsciousness as she lay on the lawn in front of James's house, a woolblanket beneath her, one arm thrown over her eyes to do the job of the sunglasses she had not thought to bring.

The French windows were open. They were to the left of the front door, which seemed a bit strange, or pointless or something—if you wanted to walk out to the front of the house, wouldn't you just use thedoor? Still,they were nice—elegant ,that was what they were, and modern—and through them now came the noise of James ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

It takes special talent to take basic, everyday story material and turn it into high art. Read this book for the audacious and brave perspective that McKeon shines on our very human vulnerabilities. Then, just like I did, read it again for the spellbinding writing. What more can I say? I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of novels that I have read twice – back to back. Tender is one of them.   (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Full Review (750 words).

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Media Reviews

The Guardian
Richly nuanced and utterly absorbing.

John Boyne, The Irish Times
There is simply not a false note anywhere in Tender.

Fiona Wilson, The Times (UK)
McKeon is a superb and sophisticated writer, who captures the barely articulable feelings between young people on the brink of adulthood.

Kirkus
Starred Review. McKeon...captures something essential about friendship, vulnerability, love, and longing...McKeon regards the characters in her keenly wrought love story - for all their flaws and fragility - with insight, sensitivity, and a compassion that proves contagious.

Booklist
Starred Review. McKeon follows her much praised debut with a fever dream of friendship, love, and obsession that is as emotionally raw as it is artfully crafted.

Author Blurb Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells
Tender rises above every other book on the shelf for its language alone; the beauty of each sentence will break your heart. But the story, full of the pleasures and terrors and betrayals of youth, will do that anyway. There is no way around it: you will weep. Spectacular.

Author Blurb Matthew Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves
Tender combines the urge to escape the ordinary of Brideshead Revisited with the tormented devotion of McEwan's Enduring Love. It is chilling, gorgeous, and profoundly insightful about the very human urge to wreck oneself on the shoals of a great ambition.

Author Blurb Jenny Offill, bestselling author of Dept. of Speculation
A perceptive, unexpectedly moving novel about friendship and love and all the heart-stopping moments in between.

Author Blurb Heidi Julavits, author of The Folded Clock
Belinda McKeon writes like a dream, and Tender proves that she belongs among the most revered novelists working today.

Reader Reviews

gail geary

Gutter language and filler language.
Tender is a very misleading title. The most used word in the book is "fuck". Most of the characters use it. The portrayal of casual sex, shagging, is even encouraged by the parents of the college students. The reason that Sharon Stone showed herself...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The History of Newspaper Horoscopes

Princess Margaret's HoroscopeIn Tender, Catherine Reilly takes up a job writing horoscopes, the kind that you routinely find in newspapers, generic enough to possibly apply to a wide swath of people, yet specific enough to make the individual reader feel like it was written just for him or her.

The word horoscope comes from the Greek words hõra (time or hour) and scopos (observer). Elaborate horoscopes and birth charts are based not only on a person's birthdate but also on the location of birth, since these data points are then used to calculate the precise alignment of the planets and stars, which in turn were believed to affect a person's path in life.

R101 wreckWhile the ancient Greeks used horoscopes - predictions based on the position of the planets ...

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