Annie Dunne

Annie Dunne

4.0 6
by Sebastian Barry
     
 

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It is 1959 in Wicklow, Ireland, and Annie and her cousin Sarah are living and working together to keep Sarah's small farm running. Suddenly, Annie's young niece and nephew are left in their care.

Unprepared for the chaos that the two children inevitably bring, but nervously excited nonetheless, Annie finds the interruption of her normal life and her last chance

Overview

It is 1959 in Wicklow, Ireland, and Annie and her cousin Sarah are living and working together to keep Sarah's small farm running. Suddenly, Annie's young niece and nephew are left in their care.

Unprepared for the chaos that the two children inevitably bring, but nervously excited nonetheless, Annie finds the interruption of her normal life and her last chance at happiness complicated further by the attention being paid to Sarah by a local man with his eye on the farm.
 
A summer of adventure, pain, delight, and, ultimately, epiphany unfolds for both the children and their caretakers in this poignant and exquisitely told story of innocence, loss, and reconciliation.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Annie's passionate observations and shifting moods-rendered in dense prose that's close to poetry-fuel this fine novel." —The New York Times Book Review

"A subtle but powerful novel of a spinster's life in the Irish countryside rises to great emotional heights...this is a deliciously poetic book." —The Washington Post

Publishers Weekly
Irish playwright and novelist Barry's gift for image and metaphor (The Whereabouts of Aneas McNulty) are equaled here by his eye for descriptive detail. This moving story is narrated by the eponymous Annie Dunne, who, in her 60s, has come to live with her cousin Sarah on an impoverished farm in Kelsha, County Wicklow. Plain and poor, and afflicted with a humpback since a childhood attack of polio, Annie is grateful to Sarah for taking her in. She loves the farm and attacks the backbreaking daily chores with fierce ardor. But when a scheming handyman on a neighboring farm begins to court Sarah, Annie sees her livelihood threatened and fights back with the only weapons in her arsenal: bitterness and rage. Complicating the events of the summer spanned by the plot are the two young children left in Annie's care by her nephew, who's gone off to London. As Annie is terrified to admit, even to herself, the children have their own dark secret, too fearsome to contemplate. Veering between dread, anger and shame, Anne's thoughts are also a mixture of whimsical observations, na ve ideas and a poetic appreciation of the natural world. This compassionate portrait of a distraught woman mourning the years of promise and dreams that were "narrowed by the empty hand of possibility" is a masterful feat of characterization, all the more vivid against the backdrop of rural Ireland in the 1950s, undergoing changes that throw Annie's life into sharper focus. (Aug. 26) Forecast: Booksellers should have no trouble handselling this book to discriminating readers who love beautiful prose and a richly textured story. Four-city author tour. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Second-novelist Sebastian (The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, 1998) returns with a tone-perfect and powerfully engaging tale of a rural spinster who wonders what life can possibly be for. Never far from Annie Dunne's mind are memories and tales of Ireland during the high old days of respect, stability, wealth, and country estates-back before independence from England. For five generations, Annie's own family had the status of being stewards of the great Humewood estate in County Wicklow-a position that "went from father to son without a break for a hundred years like a proper kingship." But war, independence, and taxes brought all that to an end, though even then Annie's father achieved prominence, becoming "chief superintendent of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, B Division"-until he died destitute and mad. Now it's 1959 and Annie herself, born in 1900, orphaned, deformed by a polio-caused hunchback, unmarried, having spent the prime of her life raising her three motherless nephews, finds the only niche left for her in the world with her spinster relative Sarah Cullen, two years her senior, on her tiny little dirt-poor farm in Wicklow. There, life for the two women is orderly, clean, thrifty-and bone-achingly hard work. When one of Annie's grown nephews leaves his children for the summer, a boy near five and his slightly older sister, Annie's entire life seems cast into question again-especially when it seems Sarah might actually marry the neighborhood's opportunistic Billy Kerr, thus sending Annie away from her last home, to probable penury. Can Annie manage the children, quell her own fears, doubts, and surfacing anger-and also survive the vile taunts that Billy Kerr throws at hersecretly for her privileged family past. Over the summer, disaster will threaten and the grace of daily life return as readers will listen, enchanted, to the passionately intelligent inward voice of Annie Dunne. Continuous pleasures, of character and language, in a book about life itself, with never a false note.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142002872
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/29/2003
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
380,716
Product dimensions:
5.09(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.46(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One Oh, Kelsha is a distant place, over the mountains from everywhere. You go over the mountains to get there, and eventually, through dreams. *** I can picture the two children in their coats arriving. It is the start of the summer and all the customs of winter and spring are behind us. Not that those customs are tended to now, much. My grand-nephew and grand-niece, titles that sound like the children of a Russian tsar. My crab-apple tree seems to watch over their coming, like a poor man forever waiting for alms with cap in hand. There is a soughing in the beech trees and the ash, and the small music of the hens. Shep prances about like a child at a dance with his extra coat of bog muck and the yellow effluents that leak into yards where dogs like to lie. The children's coats are very nice coats, city coats. Their mother does not neglect the matter of coats, whatever else I could say about her. But they are too nice for a farmyard existence. We will wrap them in old brown paper and put them in the small blue cupboard in their room, and keep the moths from them as best we can. I herd the children like little calves through the lower leaf of the half-door and into the beautiful glooms of the kitchen. The big sandwiches lie on the scrubbed table, poised like buckled planks on blue and white plates. Words are spoken and I sense the great respect Sarah has for their father Trevor, my fine nephew, magnificent in his Bohemian green suit, his odd, English-sounding name, his big red beard and his sleeked black hair like a Parisian intellectual, good-looking, with deep brown angry eyes. He is handing her some notes of money, to help bring the children through the summer. I am proud of her regard for him and proud of him, because in the old days of my sister's madness I reared him. My poor sister Maud, that in the end could do little but gabble nonsense. The great enterprise now, with Trevor and the children's mother, is to cross the sea to London and see what can be done. There are ony stagnant pools of things to tempt him here in his own country, there is nothing. He has trained himself up by a scholarship and I can smell the smell of hope in him, the young man's coat. But his hope is proficient and true. I have no doubt but that he will find himself and his care a place to lodge, and fetch about him, and gain employment. He has his grandfather's wholeness of purpose, who rose from a common police recruit to be the chief superintendant of B Division in Dublin, the capital of the whole country. His father, Matt, Maud's husband, who as good as threw me from the house when finally she died, may drag his polished boots every morning from that rented house in Donnybrook to the savage margins of Ringsend, where he teaches painting and drawing to children who would as much like to learn them as to eat earwigs. Back and forth on that black bike with his winter lamp and ineffectual bell, thinking only of the summer when he can paint the midgy beauties of Wicklow, cursing his fate. But Trevor has the strength and purpose of another generation, with his red beard. He is kissing the children's heads now and saying goodbye, be good, see you in a few months. "Every day I will write to you," says the little boy, which is comical since he is too young to know his writing. But the father is not listening to the son, he is staring away into nowhere, distracted no doubt by all the things he has to do, the arrangements, the tickets, the prayers that I think will rise up unbidden, though I know he professes to be a Godless man, one of those modern types that would make me fearful if it was not him. "Every day, every day," says the boy emphatically. "I am going to press flowers for you all summer in my autograph album," says the little girl. "There won't be anyone to write their names in it down here." "Look after yourselves in London," I say to him. "And you need not for a moment worry about the children. You will have enough to do setting yourselves up." "As soon as everything's in place, we'll send for them," Trevor says. "Thank you, Aunty Annie. It's an enormous help." 'It's no trouble, God knows. We are lucky to have them" "Don't spoil them," he says. "We will not. But we will look after them, certainly." "Good," Trevor says, and kisses my cheek, and away with him out into the paltry sunlight. He doesn't look back, though the children rush to the door.    

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Annie's passionate observations and shifting moods-rendered in dense prose that's close to poetry-fuel this fine novel." —The New York Times Book Review

"A subtle but powerful novel of a spinster's life in the Irish countryside rises to great emotional heights...this is a deliciously poetic book." —The Washington Post

Meet the Author

Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955. His plays include Boss Grady's Boys (1988), The Steward of Christendom (1995), Our Lady of Sligo (1998), The Pride of Parnell Street (2007), and Dallas Sweetman (2008). Among his novels are The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), Annie Dunne (2002) and A Long Long Way (2005), the latter shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His poetry includes The Water-Colourist (1982), Fanny Hawke Goes to the Mainland Forever (1989) and The Pinkening Boy (2005). His awards include the Irish-America Fund Literary Award, The Christopher Ewart-Biggs Prize, the London Critics Circle Award, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize, and Costa Awards for Best Novel and Book of the Year. He lives in Wicklow with his wife Ali, and three children, Merlin, Coral, and Tobias.

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Annie Dunne 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You star out nekid in the middle of a forest with no clothes, food, or shelter. No nothing. Survive a month, forest at jee res 5. River at tud res 3 and 2. Signups at turn k res 1.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think Sebastian Barry is truly a literary master. Through Barry, you know his characters so well. Annie Dunne thinks just exactly as a senior woman thinks. The story is so good, but putting the story aside, his characters are spot on!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sebastian Barry's novels will surely be read for many a year. He takes us into the thoughts, reminisces, judgments and soul of his character, in flowing, perfect prose tinged with Irish English. Annie Dunne and her cohorts use Irish idioms and grammar, of course, as they are not only country dwelling, but still living the way they were brought up to from 1900, with values, beliefs, and, yes, griefs all colored by those years. Annie and Sarah, who live and work together, in 1950 live as rural Irish did in the 19th century: a pony and cart for transportation, bread baked by them, never bought in a store. Even the butter is churned by hand! But there are sorrows, regrets, drama, and fears in this life. Barry has done a remarkable job of creating an authentic woman's voice
Anonymous More than 1 year ago