THE SPRINGS OF AFFECTION by Maeve Brennan

THE SPRINGS OF AFFECTION

Stories of Dublin
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A treasured staff writer for The New Yorker from 1949 to the mid-70s, Brennan, who died in 1993, receives fresh, well-earned attention in a collection of her 21 Irish stories, all previously published either in Christmas Eve (1974) or In and Out of Never- Never Land (1969,) together with a frank introduction from her editor William Maxwell. The stories appear in three groups, the first autobiographical, and the second and third concerning two separate families, each of whose quietly desperate circumstances is detailed in a series of overlapping vignettes. For Rose and Hubert Derdon, the state of things surfaces in ``A Young Girl Can Spoil Her Chances'' when Rose, as always, goes to a Mass commemorating her father's death, now 43 years ago, leaving Hubert, as always resentful at the upset of his morning routine. Later, he wants to make amends, and remembers a blue hyacinth he'd given her years before and how happy she'd been to receive it. The truce established between them when he asks her about it, however, collapses as his habitual criticism of her resumes. In the third group, the Bagots--Delia, Martin, and their two young daughters- -fare only marginally better: Martin sleeps in a separate room and has only minimal communication with his family; Delia keeps an immaculate home but hardly ever leaves it. The loss of their firstborn son three days after his birth was a shock they never recovered from. In the extraordinary title piece, Delia and Martin's wedding is remembered after their deaths by his twin sister, spinster Min, who took their furniture and his wedding ring to her flat the better to indulge her satisfaction at having survived Martin, whom she feels betrayed his family to marry. With an understatement often approaching brilliance, the suppressed emotions and diminished lives echoing here make clear that this voice of the last generation deserves to be heard anew.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1997
ISBN: 0-395-87046-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1997




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