From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* The blessing and the curse of family bonds have been addressed by some of our best writers, perhaps never so movingly as by William Kennedy in his Albany cycle of novels. Now Irish novelist Enright, whose intense lyrical style recalls Kennedy's, gives full voice to another tale of familial agony: Veronica's grief in the wake of her wayward brother Liam's suicide. Past and present merge as Veronica recalls their childhood growing up in Dublin in a family of 14, with never enough money or enough attention from their overburdened parents. She's convinced it all went wrong when Liam was sexually abused by a family friend, and her recollections of that day alternate with sunnier ones of their endless roughhousing and joking. When Liam drowned himself, with a tide of blood, sea water and whiskey running in his veins, he took Veronica's sense of purpose with him. Inconsolable, and suffering from insomnia, she spends her evenings driving and writing, trying to come to terms with the fact that someone you love is dead, and the world is full of people you don't. Enright's hypnotic prose turns her desperation into something fierce and beautiful.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2007 Booklist
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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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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It seems that large, extended families are brought together for two events, weddings and funerals, and such is the case in Enright's new novel (after The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch) when Veronica, her eight surviving siblings, and their mammy reconnect for her wayward brother Liam's funeral. As Veronica notes early on, "the seeds of my brother's death were sown many years ago," and it is those seeds, which are gradually unearthed as the book moves between past and present, describing the deconstruction of the family, that drove Liam to suicide. From a description of vodka with a "sweet and crotch-like" smell that includes a "waft of earth and adolescence" to souls that, if released, would "slop out over his teeth," Enright's writing is starkly descriptive, using the same coarse imagery that is part of her characters' daily lives. Much is raw in this novel, which is less about individuals than about people's "patience and ability to endure." While readers won't be drawn to the characters, anyone who perseveres will find a story of harsh redemption and of a future found in a child's blue eyes. An acquired taste; recommended for larger and more diverse collections.-Caroline M. Hallsworth, City of Greater Sudbury, Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.