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This is the voice of a nearly-90 Irishwoman describing the course of her life, mostly led in America. The narration is perfect, which is so important with a character piece like this. Lily's loses, one after the other, nearly every person, and certainly every man, she has ever loved to the various forms of violence or injustice of the 20th century, but especially to war.
It *is* a sad story, but in the nourishing way that's not just dreary. The writing is very good, very evocative, full of powerful little observations about life and a strong sense of place and love. Lily doesn't perceive herself as a tragic figure, and she certainly doesn't wallow in self-pity, so maybe that's why it leaves you with such a sense of strength. I think the author is trying to portray the personal loss of all the women of the world, especially the ordinary, working class women, that so often is overlooked in accounts of the world's big events. I ended up very moved by it.
That said it seems to start very slowly, and I wasn't sure at the beginning where it was going. There are some surprises, but this is not so much about the story. You have to stick with it, which is easy to do with this narrator. It will grow on you.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
I found this novel profoundly sad, but the narrative voice of Lily, the 89 year old narrator, was so vivid and interesting, that I kept with it. Irish and Irish-American history of the last 100 years as played out in the life of LIly is a dark and fascinating topic, and Barry does a good job with it. I do think that Lily, who is writing down her memories after her grandson has died, would not have quite the poetic and descriptive torrents of words that Barry puts in her mouth, but I was willing to suspend my disbelief because I enjoyed the writing. Good narration by Wanda McCaddon.
If you have read Barry's The Secret Scriptures, I think you will like this one, too.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful