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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590170069
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 06/28/2002
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 319
Product dimensions: 5.08(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.92(d)

About the Author

Caroline Blackwood (1931-1996) was born into a rich Anglo-Irish aristocratic family. She rebelled against her background at an early age and led a hectic and bohemian life, which included marriages to the painter Lucian Freud, the pianist and composer Israel Citkowitz, and the poet Robert Lowell. In the 1970s Blackwood began to write. Among her books are several novels, including Great Granny Webster and Corrigan (both available asNYRB Classics); On the Perimeter, an account of the women’s anti-nuclear protest at Greenham Common; and The Last of the Duchess, about the old age of the Duchess of Windsor.

Andrew Solomon is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, Artforum, and The New York Times Magazine, and the author ofThe Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost; the novelA Stone Boat; and The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, for which he received the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize nomination. He lives in New York City and London.

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Corrigan 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
DieFledermaus on LibraryThing 25 days ago
This book was an uncomfortable and unpleasant read. I was irritated not knowing what would happen so I finished it. The book was well-done though ¿ the character portraits were lively and vivid, some characters having an almost Dickensian fervor. The depiction of Nadine¿s conflicted, unhappy relationship with her mother was nuanced and realistic. Also, the end was interesting ¿ providing a different look at the events and leaving some things ambiguous. I guess I just don¿t like reading about an old woman being swindled and I found Corrigan repulsive instead of charming but bad news. I really enjoyed Blackwood¿s other book published by NYRB, Great Granny Webster, which had similarly imaginative monomaniacs but not the annoyances of Corrigan, so I would recommend that one instead.Devina Blunt is a widow with one married daughter, Nadine, a nice house, generous trusts, and a caring if somewhat vulgar housekeeper, Mrs. Murphy. She is still unhappy after the death of her husband and finds it hard to relate to Nadine so is susceptible to Corrigan, who comes rolling up to her house in a wheelchair one day asking for donations to charity. In a short time, Corrigan is making himself comfortable at her house and getting money from her under the pretext that it is for the hospital that treated him. Nadine tries to stay out of her mother¿s business but becomes increasingly worried when it seems that Mrs. Blunt, Mrs. Murphy and her friend Sabrina have fallen under Corrigan¿s spell.One starts the book having some idea what it is about, so everything that Corrigan does is seen as a lie. His behavior is typical of a con man ¿ trying to drive away Mrs. Murphy and Nadine, for example. Mrs. Blunt seems to be the perfect victim ¿ old and lonely, very naïve (knows nothing about money, can¿t drive, afraid even to go to the bank), trusting and afraid of insulting Corrigan. Reading their conversations was quite uncomfortable, not just because of all the ploys Corrigan uses to get money but because he clearly feels the need to have himself thought to be generous as well as modest. He¿s also way too intense, constantly getting in Mrs. Blunt¿s space and making all sorts of personal comments even when they barely know each other. Watching Mrs. Blunt put up with all of Corrigan¿s annoying behavior was unpleasant.Nadine is constantly frustrated with her mother acting as though her life is over after her husband¿s death and her passivity combined with clear unhappiness. I sympathized with her, even though she was supposed to be the stick in the mud, because it¿s hard to watch when people have problems or emotional issues yet make no effort to change it. Blackwood¿s depiction of Nadine¿s complex array of emotions regarding her mother was the best part of the book. A mix of irritation, guilt, love and resentment in the end makes her avoid Mrs. Blunt. Nadine appears to be the perfect wife and mother but she¿s actually something of a cliché ¿ the unhappy housewife with a callous husband she doesn¿t love. The arrival of Corrigan inspires her mother to get out and have a purpose and Nadine doesn¿t greet this change happily. Mrs. Blunt¿s transformation is perhaps also tired ¿ unhappy woman learns to live again when a new man enters her life ¿ though the fact that it¿s a swindler makes it somewhat different. Blackwood poses the idea that Corrigan does Mrs. Blunt more good than harm and she provides supporting evidence. Besides Mrs. Blunt, it also seems that Corrigan inspires Sabrina, a model who always chooses horrible men, to go back to school and even provides some impetus for Nadine to change her life. But I still couldn¿t stand him.