Publishers WeeklyWhen New Englander Ellen Boisvert journeys to her deceased husband Fintan Dowd's seaside village in Ireland, she comes face to face with Jo Dowd, the embittered mother he once claimed was dead. Separate narrative strands of flat, present-tense prose focus on Ellen, Jo, and the now-teenage daughter Fintan had with his first love. As family secrets are gradually revealed, Ellen must reconcile the sometimes-violent man she knew with new perspectives. With its depiction of troubled mother-son relationships, follies of youth, the limited choices to be found in rural Ireland, and of consequences wrought by lies of omission, Greaney's second novel (after The Big House) depicts grief with trust in the reader's empathy. The author is able to capture emotional nuance with minimal flourish; her characters emerge as strong individuals confronting unexpected pain. Unfortunately much of the book exists to establish a background counterpoint, and Fintan himself remains elusive, this is a frank exploration of adult concerns.
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