Mary and O'Neil Paperback – 2 Jun 2003
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'Astonishingly good ... What a gift: to be able to live alongside these people for a while' -- Ann Patchett, author of 'Bel Canto'
'Conjures a world as rich in emotional truth as Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio -- Washington Post Book World
'Cronin is admirably fearless in the scope of his imagination' -- New York Times Book Review
'Cronin succeeds, touchingly and tenderly, in portraying life itself as a triumph of hope over experience' -- Boston Globe
'Precise and illuminating ... an absorbing study of family relations' -- The Times
'Subtle, truthful and lovely' -- Observer
From the Publisher
Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award 2002See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Each story could easily stand alone and is self-contained, but as a book it is far more than the sum of its parts.
Cronin's writing is masterly. He writes with honesty and with wisdom, and his book abounds with small pleasures.
Mary & O'Neil is sentimental without being schmaltzy. It had me laughing out loud ( the humour is beautifully genuine and unforced ) and even bringing a tear to the eye ( there are moments that are unbearably sad but somehow uplifting too ).
This is a story about love and about marriage, about loss and about suffering. Mary and O'Neil are characters that will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned, as will O'Neil's parents, his sister Kay , his college girlfriend Sandra and all the other people in these stories - for that is what they seem to be : real people.
This is a very fine book indeed and I look forward to Mr. Cronin's future works - he is certainly a writer worth watching.
Most powerful of the stories, for me, was the opening story entitled `Last of the Leaves'. The central characters in this story are O'Neil's parents, Arthur and Miriam. The story opens in November 1979, with Arthur's premonition of death, on a day in which he and Miriam are travelling to visit O'Neil at college. While they are preparing for this trip we learn that each has secrets, and what these secrets are. We learn too that individual secrets can be put aside or forgotten in the shared joy of seeing O'Neil happy. This visit has a tragic aftermath which influences the balance of the novel without overshadowing the events yet to unfold.
I enjoyed this novel with its bittersweet observations of different life events, both joyous and tragic. In fewer than 300 pages, Mr Cronin creates likeable and human characters whose experiences both as individuals and as members of family units will be recognisable to so many readers.
With fewer than 300 pages, this is a comparatively quick read. Quick, but not necessarily easy. This is the first of Mr Cronin's novels I have read, and I am looking forward to reading the others.
The tales span the years 1979 to 2000 and detail the significant events that occur in the lives of the title characters and their families and friends. The book's central theme is the cycle of Life - growing up, marriage, birth and death are all covered (though not necessarily in that order).
This is an elegantly written, sedately paced work; although not one for those who like non-stop action, the universal themes will resonate with most readers. The episodic structure works well as it enables different characters to take a turn centre stage and in some ways reflects how we actually mark the lives of others - noticing births, deaths and marriages without always knowing what happens between these milestones.
Overall, a thoughtful work that is recommended.
Yes it did have 8 different view points with, really 8 different stories but when you reach the end of the book, you wonder what you have actually read. You've just happily laid in the book, unaware of anything that is going on around you, hapily enjoying it I must admit but then not memorable.
As the title suggests, it does revolve around two characters, Mary And O'Neil but it takes a few pages to be turnedbefore you actually really meet this couple and then you wonder how they meet because that again comes nearer to the end.
It's a very poignant book which to me showed that nothing is straight forward and even when you love some one dearly, it doesn't necessarily say that they know the ins and outs of everything that goes on in their lives. To O'Neil, this is smoething that takes time to overcome, and questionably, does he overcome?
This is completely different to Cronin's more well known novel The Passage, highlighting how possibly Cronin can turn his pen to any genre.
If you want fast moving, non stop then The Passage is for you, but if you want to slower the pace, possibly daydream in between then Mary & O'Neil is the book for you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not sure about this book...after reading his other books The Twelve and The Passage I think Justin needs to stick to what he does best and thats writting horrorPublished on 17 Sept. 2013 by denise
I have to say that this Mr Cronin is enfuriatingly good - by which I mean it drives me crazy that I'm always left wanting MORE. Read morePublished on 10 July 2012 by The Honey Monster