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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very captivating read full of intriguing language
This book was recommended to me by an English major. With the skepticism of a non English student, I read on and found myself engrossed in the books characters and story. The story involves the women of successive generations of a single family starting on the shores of Ireland and ending up in the ever-urbanizing world of just outside Toronto. The women of the...
Published on 23 Aug. 1998

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing.
The lyrical prose and language of Away is its best and worst feature. Urquhart's rich, magical prose, especially in the novel's opening with Mary and her lover from the sea, is wonderful. However, the language is not enough to sustain interest. Urquhart's prose dilapitates into a passive, lazy drawl (which DOES NOT convincingly pass for style) as the...
Published on 17 Jun. 1998


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very captivating read full of intriguing language, 23 Aug. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Away (Paperback)
This book was recommended to me by an English major. With the skepticism of a non English student, I read on and found myself engrossed in the books characters and story. The story involves the women of successive generations of a single family starting on the shores of Ireland and ending up in the ever-urbanizing world of just outside Toronto. The women of the family and their respective passions are explored in a greatly interesting manner. I fully recommend this text. It greatly surprised me...Thks eddy
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intricate weaving, 10 Dec. 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Away (Paperback)
Extending backwards and forwards in time a hundred and forty years, Away, a novel by Canadian writer Jane Urquhart, begins with one of the female characters discovering the shoreline near her Irish home has been changed forever. Stones resembling new potatoes have replaced the sandy beach, a grim joke in this impoverished area. Then "thousands of cabbages nudged one another towards shore," followed by many silver teapots and barrels of whiskey, a semi-conscious young man the final offering. Thus begins this amazing tale, weaving together the lives of four generations of women, Ireland and and Canada, past and present, land and sea. Water becomes a character in itself, each of these women drawn to it like lemmings, lives unfolding near a stream that ebbs and flows with the seasons, a Great Lake, and the Atlantic Ocean. For readers who appreciate lyrical writing, a compelling story, and subtly evoked magic realism, this book is for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Away brings the lost spirits of Ireland to your heart., 5 Sept. 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Away (Paperback)
The troubles in Ireland have the roots in centuries of turmoil. The Irish spirituality is innate and as the author weaves a story Irish pain she shares the strength of the Irish. As a third generation Canadian of Irish descent, I needed to know about the Irish soul and why I am the way I am. A fictional account of historic truth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enchanting read, despite the hardship portrayed., 9 July 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Away (Paperback)
One of the loveliest contemporary novels I've ever read, full of mood and history and sensitivity. This author deserves far more attention than she has received; she can write circles around most of the authors out there, combining poetry, narrative, and a touch of magic. I am eagerly awaiting her next novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a mystical journey floating through time, 22 April 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Away (Paperback)
Jane's writing flows over you like a lace curtain, billowing in an open window, hovering over a soft, warm breath of moist air. Magically she drifts from the dark hills of the Irish potato famine to the shores of Lake Ontario, spanning four generations of special women in one family.
She takes you through vistas of the mind and body which make you yearn to be taken 'away into the other' and loose yourself for just a while.
A wonderful journey for those of us that like to drift into the mist that surrounds the night with just a touch of history and geography thrown in for grounding.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing., 17 Jun. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Away (Paperback)
The lyrical prose and language of Away is its best and worst feature. Urquhart's rich, magical prose, especially in the novel's opening with Mary and her lover from the sea, is wonderful. However, the language is not enough to sustain interest. Urquhart's prose dilapitates into a passive, lazy drawl (which DOES NOT convincingly pass for style) as the "magical" parts tests the reader's patience. Disappointing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars incomparable, 28 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Away (Paperback)
A single sentence in this book encompasses the highest of art and spirit that the muse of writing holds out before all writers. Many produce volumes over a lifetime and never achieve the beauty, elegance and balance of Urguhart's writing. It may be a tale but it is the writing, the exquisite telling of the tale that matters here. This is a treasure.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical Boredom, 9 Jun. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Away (Paperback)
Jane Uquhart's novel Away, is about Mary and Eileen, a mother, daughter duo who have their lives changed by romantic, yet tragic encounters, at different times. The novel begins in Ireland, where Mary is possessed by the spirit of a sailor who dies in her arms on Rathlin island. People of the island believed that Mary was possessed by a deamon lover, who took her away from herself, society and her family. After staring death in the face, from the potato famine, Mary and her realistic husband, Brian, migrated to Canada. Even though Mary had left her country, her deamon followed and took her away, forever, leaving behind her son Liam and her daughter, Eileen. After being told the story of her families abandonment by Exodus Crow and former landlord, Osbert, Eileen falls passionately in love with the fiery Irish patriot dancer, Aiden. Uquharts novel is full of the political and spiritual drama of Ireland, and the Irish people. Jane Uquhart is blessed with the ability to write with such magic and lyrical composition, that at times she make the interesting, even more interesting, and consequently the tedious even more tedious. Jane Uquhart's melodious language is both her greatest asset and worst liability.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twisting a sentence into a song, 11 Sept. 2010
By 
Friederike Knabe "Books are funny little port... (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Away (Paperback)
"The women of this family leaned towards extremes [...] They were plagued by revenants. There was always water involved, exaggerated youth or exaggerated age. Afterwards there was absence..."

Esther O'Malley Robertson, now in her eighties, and by her own admission "the last and most subdued" of these extreme women tells the family's story one last time "to herself and the Great Lake, there being no one to listen." The story, she muses, "will take her wherever it wants to go in the next twelve hours, and that is all that matters." And what a story it is! Like her protagonist, Jane Urquhart "paints a landscape in her mind", so rich in colours and shades, and so full of life - real and imagined, large as the ocean, minuscule as a tide pool - and so intimate in the depiction of its human inhabitants with their deep connection to the land and the waters that sustain them.

Spanning some one hundred and forty years, Urquhart creates a intricate multigenerational portrait of a family, starting out on the island of Rathlin, at the most northern coast of Ireland and leaving with Esther at Loughbreeze Beach on the shores of Lake Ontario. Mary, Esther's great-grandmother, stands tall at the beginning of the story, but, overwhelmed by what she experiences one early morning on the beach, changes into somebody that the locals refer to as being "away" - living in an otherworldly reality. She eventually returns to "normal life" thanks to the dedicated gentle care of Brian, her new husband. Urquhart's subtle and sensitive description of the young couple's evolving relationship, set against the increasingly precarious circumstances of the farming communities around them, pulls the reader right into their reality and creates an intimate empathy that only grows as the story unfolds. The contrast between the poverty stricken tenant farmers and their English landlords is stark, yet, even when portraying the latter, the author is perceptive to their limited efforts to help those dependent on them for their survival.

Urquhart touches on major historical events over the novel's time span. With heart wrenching intensity she describes the impact of the Irish potato famine, the subsequent wave of Irish immigration to then "Upper Canada", and the challenges faced by the early settlers and would-be farmers in the harsh landscape of the Canadian Shield. The struggle of the Irish immigrants goes beyond their claiming and cultivating the land and the political realities compete with the domestic; Urquhart interweaves the two component with great skill and balance. Yet, her central force are always the individuals, vividly portrayed, and their attachment, and often fascination, with the landscape they find themselves in. For Mary this deep connection is with the sea; her need for touching it will eventually dictate the rest of her life. For her children, Liam and Eileen, and all those who follow in this family tapestry, Urquhart's poetic and beautifully flowing language captures the diverse characters' deep emotions, at time haunting and heart wrenching and at others sensuous and exuberant. Some of the men are wanderers and capture the attention and love of their women in fleeting visits, others, especially Brian and his son Liam, are earthbound and provide the solid support to those who are torn between the land and the water - the 'here' and the 'away'. Esther, being the last in the line, knows that "Over the years the women of the family who have ventured out into the world have carried pictures of Loughbreeze Beach with them in their minds; its coloured stones shining through water, the places where fine pebbles give way to sand, certain paths the moon makes across the lake's surface on autumn midnights..."

The characterization of one person that he can twist " a sentence into a song" could not be a better description for the author's talents. Whether evoking the diverse emotions of individuals, the inner or outside landscapes they are connected to, the changing seasons with their atmospheric transformations, Urquhart's rich prose carries the reader into a mystical world that is both very real and richly imagined. [Friederike Knabe]
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 30 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Away (Paperback)
excellent
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Away
Away by Jane Urquhart (Paperback - 27 July 1995)
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