↠´ Read ¿ The Lives of Women by Christine Dwyer Hickey × I was given a review copy by the publishers after showing an interest I thought the premise of the book sounded interesting and it definitely lived up to my expectations.
This is in a sense a coming of age novel, but it is also a retrospective We are introduced to the character of Elaine who has returned to her family home to care for her father, after the death of her mother We are made aware that Elaine hasn t been home for quite a while, and hasn t had much contact with them either because of something that happened in the past Told through alternating past and present chapters, what happened in the past is slowly revealed, although it was left slightly open about what did happen and certain things were speculated but never d Christine Dwyer Hickey may possibly be Ireland s most under rated writer She s written seven novels I ve read the oh so brilliant but heart breaking Tatty and the inventive award winning The Cold Eye of Heaven as well as a short story collection and a newly published play The Lives of Women, her latest novel, is right up there with my favourite reads of the year so far It s the kind of book that hooks you right from the start and then keeps you on tenterhooks throughout I started reading it on a Sunday morning and then had to make a difficult decision about whether to put it aside to finish my chores and planned errands or to stay indoors and finish it I chose the latter.
When the book opens we meet Elaine Nicols, a woman in her late 40s, who has returned to her childhood home in suburban Ireland after a long exile in New York Her mother has recently died she missed the funeral I really found this book very well written, the characters exceptionally real , and due to the nature of Ebooks, couldn t go back to clarify a few clues , I needed to revisit, at the end Hopefully there will be novels from this accomplished writer.
Elaine, dispatched in haste to New York in the wake of an unspecified scandal when she was sixteen, returns home to Ireland for the first, for her mother s funeral thirty years on The chapters alternate between then and now, and the story of her teenage years in the suburbs unfolds.
Christine Dwyer Hickey shows as always, her gift for examining dysfunctional family life, missed chances, suppressed emotion, loveless marriages, pressure of keeping up appearances, lack of forgiveness and of course the demon drink This is not the darkest of her books, but the enchantment is in the suspense leading up to it, rather than the final reveal.
Thoroughly enjoyed this It s a dual narrative with chapters alternating between past and present, set in a stifling suburban cul de sac Both strands slowly edge towards revealing the tragedy that changed everyone s lives.
I love this structure in a novel The writing is excellent and the characters well rounded and believable particularly the middle aged Elaine in the present.
5 stars A slow building novel where nothing much happens until the very end where we find out that so much had happened Lovely gentle writing It explores the female characters in great depth while drawing only sketches of the male characters who come and go It s about childhood friendships and the choices mistakes we make in childhood that mark us for life I m enjoying my run of Irish novelists.
Despite the often elegant writing I found myself skip reading many pages, desperate for something to happen When it did, right towards the end, it left me with so many unanswered questions that I felt dissatisfied A read that for me didn t really fulfill its potential, I m afraid.
Following A Long Absence Spent In New York, Elaine Nichols Returns To Her Childhood Home To Live With Her Invalid Father And His Geriatric Alsatian Dog The House Backing On To Theirs Is Sold And As She Watches The Old Furniture Being Removed, She Is Taken Back To A Summer In The S When She Was Almost Sixteen And This Small Out Of Town Estate Was An Enclave For Women And Children While The Men Are Mysterious Shadows Who Leave Every Day For The Outside WorldThe Women Are Isolated But Keep Their Loneliness And Frustrations Hidden Behind A Veneer Of Suburban Respectability When An American Divorcee And Her Daughter Move Into The Estate This Veneer Begins To Crack The Women Learn How To Socialise, How To Drink Martinis, How To Care Less About Their Wifely And Maternal DutiesWhile The Women Are Distracted, Elaine And Her Friends Find Their Own Entry Into The Adult World The Result Is A Tragic Event That Will Mark The Rest Of Elaine S Life And Be The Cause Of Her Long And Guilt Ridden ExileInsightful And Full Of Suspense, This Is An Uncompromising Portrayal Of The Suburbs And The Cruelties Brought About By The Demands Of Respectability A bit of a book where as I read it and as I finished it, I thought is that it That sounds harsh, and I don t think of this as a bad book, just underwhelming It s very well written and I easily set myself into the rhythm of reading it and found it easy to finish It s a true page turner, if only because its voice is so easy and smooth But the story and the characters were all lacking The story was about nothing, really which, actually, would have been totally fine because it wouldn t have set up expectations around the BIG SECRET that you get literally in the last ten pages of the book Or, if the secret was something essential to the plot, I would have preferred it earlier to get a sense of why it mattered so much It was left largely unresolved and the fact that the book ends with THE END demonstrates that even the editor was like, ah, this isn t a strong ending This is a book where nothing happens and then everything happens all at once Props to the author because I didn t actually see the ending coming although the outcome of the incident is easy enough to guess from the hints throughout the book, I definitely did not guess how it would happen But I think the reveal would have worked earlier in the book That would ve meant that the suspense lasted long enough to titillate but not grow stale and the fallout from what happened could have been expanded upon , as well as time spent on the actual event That s what would have improved the book for me.