MARY MCGREEVY by Walter Keady


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A freethinking woman turns a rural community in the west of Ireland on its head, in this quaint but unremarkable tale by Keady (Celibates and Other Lovers, not reviewed). It’s the early 1950s when Sister Mary Thomas emerges from the convent to be with her father in his last days, then drops her habit to resume life as Mary McGreevy, a red-haired, green-eyed beauty who immediately sets all the men’s hearts aflutter. She inherits the family farm and does a first-rate job of running it, while an endless stream of admirers flocks to her door. The painfully shy footballer, the middle-aged bartender, the head teacher at the local school—even the new parish priest—come knocking, and each is served with more tea and flirtation than he can handle. But Mary knows her own mind, and in spite of her winsome ways, she’s determined never to marry. This choice, unique in that time and place though it is, might have been acceptable to her neighbors . . . had she not chosen to bear a child. Her adamant refusal to name the father only fans speculation, and every one of her admirers comes to feel the heat. The schoolmaster is the first primary suspect, even though he’s recently married (to a woman who fancies Mary herself). But in time the finger of blame points to the priest—a caring, thoughtful man whose frequent visits to her farm, fueled by a private belief that Mary may be possessed, have not gone unnoticed. Denounced to the archbishop, the brokenhearted cleric is removed from his parish, and in the ensuing uproar the surprising, painful truth comes out. A fond depiction of Irish country life, but the surfeit of country characters results in more than a few caricatures. The heroine herself, for all her musical laughter and ankle-flashing, remains something of a cipher as well.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-878448-83-8
Page count: 260pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1998