Impressive first fiction set in the harsh, closed world of rural Ireland in the 1930's: a story of love and cramped social reality that's both heartbreaking and ultimately affirmative. Without title to land, a man in western Ireland is not a man, and fathers hold onto their authority and small rocky farms until death. By the time Morgan Riley has title to the family property, he and his sister Annie—both in their 40s—have given up hopes for marriage and resigned themselves to loneliness and hard work. But the Riley place, though isolated, is only three miles from the town of Westport, and the farm has a slate roof; to the Maughans, a family in backwards Ballyrea, a match between Morgan and their young daughter Minnie means a step up in the world. Morgan can't believe his good fortune; Annie—though worried about low-class country connections and being displaced—is delighted at the thought of another woman's company. Surely, though, there's a catch? Indeed, the Maughans are in a hurry to marry Minnie off before she loses her ``character''—but by the wedding date, Minnie is pregnant by her penniless lover, Mattie. Still, she likes kindly Morgan and finds some contentment in the marriage...until Mattie destroys her family with murderous revenge. The scandal ruins Annie's new prospects, and Morgan must repudiate Minnie—unless an unyielding society can be induced to bend. An eloquent evocation of place and emotion: stark and humane.
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