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Inevitably, this will be constantly compared with its predecessor, The Last Hurrah. Inevitably, Old Charlie Carmody will be contrasted with Frank Skeffington. There is something of Skeffington, but in Charlie that essential humanity has been whittled away- until only the bare bones of self interest and ruthlessness are left. And where Skeffington made- and kept- his friends, despite politics, Charlie's ""edge of sadness""-unsuspected until the end- lay in his knowledge that he had forfeited friendship. It is perhaps the Carmody's story:- not only Old Charlie, but Father John, his successful son, rector of Boston's popular, fashionable Catholic parish; and his daughter, Helen- her doctor husband and their young people. But even more, for this reader, it is Father Hugh's story. Hugh had grown up with the Carmodys -- but sacrificed his birthright for the sin of alcoholism. Had it not been for a perceptive and understanding bishop, that would have been the end. Instead, when the story opens, he has come back- not to the parish of which John is now the rector -- but to Old St. Paul's, vast, empty, unfashionable, and there he has cut himself off from any awareness of life going on. His ebullient curate provides a perfect foil for Father Hugh's sad detachment. And when the Carmodys come back into his life, things begin to happen. It is a sensitive handling of difficult themes; there is a good deal of self-searching here, much of the past comes out in flashbacks, there is immense vitality in the interplay of characters. The story is, perhaps, thin; the interest lies largely in the sensitive probing of basic human values rather than tenets of the faith. Humor is often poignant, implicit rather than direct. The book is unlikely to have the wide popularity of the earlier one, but shows considerable maturing on the part of its author.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1961
ISBN: 0829421238
Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.