TIME AFTER TIME by Molly Keane
Kirkus Star


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Keane's latest rustle into the virtuoso eccentricities and nasty secrets of Ireland's threadbare gentry is even more wicked and broadly comic than the marvelous Good Behaviour (1981); and rarely have the just deserts of an enchantingly horrid villainess been so deliciously served. In Durraghglass, an awesomely crumbling and encumbered estate, dwell an elderly brother and three aged or aging sisters--all living hatefully together, thanks to the wishes of the late ""darling Mummie,"" who was a widow long before the grandly servant-ed and furnished estate ran to ruin. Jasper, April, May, and Baby June live on, ""locked in inviolable small conflicts and old adventures."" Elegant, one-eyed Jasper (all Mummie's children have a deformity) tunes out unpleasantness with his extraordinarily fine cooking--in a kitchen full of cats, and dust thick as ashes. Still-handsome widow April is big, very deaf, nips vodka, and has an occasional grassy gasper with the dealer to whom she's selling household objects to support her cherished wardrobe. May, greedy for applause, has but 1(apple) fingers--but is the star of the Irish Countrywoman's Floral Club with her arrangements, tweed pictures, and china mending. Baby June, who by mistake shot out Jasper's eye years ago, is ""a little slow"" but runs her adored barnyard in jeans and gum boots; she also has trained an elusive lout named Christy to handle a particularly fine horse. And, as this household changes for dinner, conflicting memories crop up of their Austrian cousin Leda--undoubtedly long dead in a concentration camp. Who, however, shows up one day soon thereafter? Leda, of course--now plain, dowdy, and blind as a bat. But she still has ""limitless charm,"" bringing a new springtime to Durraghglass, ""a mirage trembling in her flattery."" In fact, Leda is quickly ensconced in darling Mummie's bedroom, happily and generously spitting on darling Mummie's carefully preserved clothes--and making plans. (""Leda had a thirst for victims."") A craftswoman of devastation, Leda coaxes the old rabbits from their habitual warrens and prepares for slaughter. She almost succeeds, but her disemboweling turns out to be corrective surgery for three siblings. . . and the fourth takes on the unwitting role of Leda's eternal punishment. In jugular-poised wit and hilarity: a brilliant comic novel.

Pub Date: Jan. 6th, 1983
ISBN: 1844083276
Publisher: Knopf