Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 40.
- Review Date: 0000-00-00
- Reviewer: Staff
In the taut latest from Enright (What Are You Like?), middle-aged Veronica Hegarty, the middle child in an Irish-Catholic family of nine, traces the aftermath of a tragedy that has claimed the life of rebellious elder brother Liam. As Veronica travels to London to bring Liam’s body back to Dublin, her deep-seated resentment toward her overly passive mother and her dissatisfaction with her husband and children come to the fore. Tempers flare as the family assembles for Liam’s wake, and a secret Veronica has concealed since childhood comes to light. Enright skillfully avoids sentimentality as she explores Veronica’s past and her complicated relationship with Liam. She also bracingly imagines the life of Veronica’s strong-willed grandmother, Ada. A melancholic love and rage bubbles just beneath the surface of this Dublin clan, and Enright explores it unflinchingly. (Sept.)
Winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize, this moving chronicle of an Irish-Catholic family is characterized by Enright's musical prose and ability to spin a compelling story. Veronica Hegarty, struggling to come to grips with the suicide of her brother, Liam, prepares to meet with the rest of her large family in Dublin, where her brother's wake will be held. Having claimed Liam's body, Veronica keeps watch over him, remembering, as she does so, an incident that took place in 1968 at their grandmother's house. Thinking back on the eventa secret that only she and Liam knew aboutawakens all sorts of memories for Veronica, and her recollections send the narrative swirling into the past. The novel follows three generations of the Hegarty clan, and the family's history illuminates the present in a way that adds complexity and drama to the book. Most poignant are Veronica's memories of her teenage years in Dublin. Her parents, always short of money, were too busy to give their children the care and affection they needed. As a teen, Liam was molested by a frienda traumatic experience that Veronica views as the root of his emotional problems. Once the Hegartys come together for Liam's wake, emotions run high, and Veronica's secret is at last revealed. Enright offers a searing, insightful portrayal of family relationships and the difficulties of dealing with grief.
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