Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Charming Billy by Alice McDermott

This is an oldie but a goodie, you will find it in the Library system and in good second hand bookshops and its worth the effort.
Billy Lynch is dead and buried and here begins the story of an Irish Catholic boy from New York whose life follows a pattern of predictability intermingled with unpredictability. The writing is beautiful, the descriptions of both people and places real, the characters are drawn with a fine brush that at times morphs into a few hard swipes when the writer deems it necessary.
Family, religion, love, ambition and redemption are all key to this story and are all intertwined in that peculiarly Irish way that plays out worldwide where ever you live and if you are a certain age, there will be so many, yes I remember that, I remember this. Entwined with alcohol and secrets this is not a slow narrative, it is never dull, never boring, like a wave it pulls you along, even a pervading sadness at life's disappointments doesn`t spoil this. I particularly liked the way she unravelled her characters a little bit at a time, it kept you of balance and you couldn't`t be sure where they might go. The characters are not always likeable, for example I loathed Eva, even while I could understand her motivations and forgiveness is a mighty powerful thing, as is settling for second best.
Hunt a copy of this book down.

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