THE SHRINE by Mary Lavin
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Another five immaculate and touching stories set in back-country Ireland in which the young, the home-coming, and the uprooted are Snared briefly in dark undertides of compulsion, habit, and frightening isolations old as the land itself. In the title story, an elderly Canon, in his intoxication with his geegaw Shrine, where a vision of the Virgin and saints is supposed to have taken place, falls to the deviltry of malice and casts away the niece he has loved and raised. A returned middle-aged Irish-American views the future he had not chosen in the lined and crippled faces now occupying his childhood home. In ""A Mug of Water,"" a young couple, playing at archaeology, come face to face with a present, very ancient terror. And the last two stories offer an elderly woman and a youthful nun, each of whom learns the shameful consequences of release--from the restraints of convention and destiny. Again Lavin deals with the warm uncertainties of ordinary desires and with the severe certainties of the bizarre enclosures that atavistic human impulses create and stolidly maintain. Exemplary.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1977
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin