McGahern’s luminous threnody to the particulars and permutations of aging and change is captured in prose of the utmost...

BY THE LAKE

An episodic and subtly elegiac group portrait of life in a contemporary Irish village: the sixth, and best, novel—and first in 12 years—from veteran author McGahern (Amongst Women, 1990, etc.).

Originally published in Great Britain as That They May Face the Rising Sun, it focuses on Joe and Kate Ruttledge, a former London couple who live modestly by working their small lakeside farm—and, with gradually increasing clarity and intensity, on the friends and neighbors whose intermittently shared lives become all but inseparable. McGahern introduces his characters in the most natural way imaginable—as casual visitors who drop in for a drink and a chat, and as subjects of stories they all tell about one another. Joe’s uncle, the wealthy businessman nicknamed “the Shah,” who conceals his lonely vulnerability beneath a veneer of brisk efficiency; neighbor Jamesie, a compulsive taleteller and gossip and his quiet wife Mary; aging pensioner Bill Evans, still traumatized by physical abuse he suffered in boyhood at the hands of wrathful priests; contractor Patrick Ryan, who never finishes anything he starts—professionally or personally; a genial Don Juan, John Quinn, who keeps finding propertied widows to marry: all become part of the comforting (and smothering) fabric that sustains the Ruttledges “by the lake,” impervious to the siren call of more lucrative employment in London. Very little happens, apart from Quinn’s incessant amours. Jamesie’s rootless brother Johnny, an annual visitor, may come “home” to stay; but the threat passes. The Shah retires, and his longtime employee manages (with Joe’s aid) to buy his business. Hints of more earthshaking occurrences follow the arrival of an otherwise typical spring, as local IRA leader Jimmy Joe McKiernan leads an “Easter March” through the hamlet that had thought itself immune to such “troubles.”

McGahern’s luminous threnody to the particulars and permutations of aging and change is captured in prose of the utmost simplicity and precision, keenly alert to the rhythms of lives lived close to the bone and in quiet harmony with the natural world.

Pub Date: March 11, 2002

ISBN: 0-679-41914-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

Did you like this book?

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Finalist

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more