ACROSS THE RIVER by Alice Taylor


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A sequel to The Woman of the House (1999) takes up with the Phelan family eight years later.

In County Cork, in 1960, Martha Phelan is running the Mossgrove farm with the help of old hand Jack, daughter Nora, and her son Peter. Since the death of her husband, relations between her and 20-year-old Peter have been strained—but never more so than now. Coming into his own, Peter wants to take charge and modernize the farm, but Martha has other plans for their savings. She hopes to build her dream house, finally leaving behind both the dark old farmhouse she came to as a bride and the ghosts and memories of the Phelan ancestors that haunt it. But there are more than familial disputes afoot: the old feud between the Phelans and the neighboring Conways is reignited, literally so when Matt Conway sets the Phelan’s new crop of hay on fire. Waiting until Peter was old enough so he could fight as a man, evil Matt Conway now spends his days staring ominously across the river at the Phelan land he feels is rightfully his—though it's Martha, vain, selfish and hard as nails, that he should worry about. Meanwhile, the lovable parish priest is accused of having an affair with Martha’s sister-in-law Kate (untrue) and of beating up Matt Conway (true), both accusations landing him in trouble with the Bishop. When Conway goes too far, all but raping Nora, Martha has her revenge, leaving everyone far happier. With sunny days in store (unless Conway’s eldest son makes trouble) and a wealthy American mooning over Martha, the end is simply a short break until the inevitable sequel.

Pleasures that have less to do with story than with Taylor’s portrait of rural Irish life. An amiable cast and description aplenty for those looking for a bit of an Irish idyll.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-27843-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2001


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