Amongst Women Paperback – 7 May 1991
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
'An overwhelming experience.' (The Times)
'A book that can be read in two hours, but will linger in the mind for decades.' (Sunday Telegraph)
'Compact but not dense, spare yet rich, and brimming with tension.' (Observer)
McGahern brings us that tonic gift of the best fiction, the sense of truth... a sight that cleanses us even as it saddens and frightens. (John Updike) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Amongst Women by John McGahern is a poignant and clear-sighted novel from the highly acclaimed Irish novelist. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The gloom of the family situation rarely lifts and this is a story of a man who has kept himself apart from his community. He has few friends and does not drink, even when they all come back for a Christmas get-together. There are moments of lightness, but the majority of their time in the house seems to hover always with the thought of impending disaster, of someone, or something disturbing the old man’s mood. This might be as small as a cup breaking in the washing-up. The old man’s sourness appears to be endemic.
The atmosphere in the house worsens when Michael, the son, wants to leave school before he has matriculated, to work as a labourer, like his elder brother did. The father refuses to let him leave, but when he threatens to beat young Michael, the boy runs off to the house of one of his sisters. Luke, is now studying accountancy and is making a life in England. But even when Luke comes back to Ireland to attend the wedding of one of his sisters, there is no real reconciliation and gradually, the house empties and the old man falters. The book ends with his death.
It is very difficult to find much of a positive nature to say about this book. I daresay it is true to life – but such a deadened and bitter life as it draws to a close like a harsh, cold winter day. Some men, of course, have no talent for fatherhood, I knew someone like this myself, and indeed he was a man with a mission to dominate his family at all costs. This is an extremely depressing book.
Although this is one of those tales in which not much happens, I was soon hooked by McGahern's spare prose and subtle ability to convey a sense of place and of human relationships as he describes in minute detail the nuances of family relationships in the rural Ireland of around 1960. On the one hand, I was repelled by the narrow restrictions, the over-concern with convention and religious rituals. On the other, McGahern makes us aware of the value of family ties, working together on the land, taking pleasure in the small simple things of life, enjoying the familiarity and beauty of the farmland. All this is made more poignant by our knowledge of the transience of this way of life, as inevitably the children leave to make a better living in Dublin or London - or to escape the tyranny of a man whom most of them regards as "always.... the very living centre of all parts of their lives".
Moran's bullying, sarcasm and desire to stand on his dignity and have the last word do not endear him to me. Much of the quiet tragedy of this book is the high price he pays for his behaviour in terms of the loss of his old friend McQuaid, even his eldest son. It is quite hard at times to understand how his stoical wife Rose manages to turn the other cheek.
Highly recommended, this is a thought-provoking and moving read which enhances our understanding of ordinary life, with a wry humour to counter what may sound like the downbeat misery of the theme.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
Look for similar items by category