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That They May Face the Rising Sun Paperback – 20 Jan 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; New edition edition (20 Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571212212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571212217
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 637,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Irish writer John McGahern's first new novel in 12 years, That They May Face the Rising Sun, is a work of delicately forged beauty, the nearest he has yet come to writing of happiness. The plot remains defiantly not the thing for McGahern, with little of consequence happening beyond life's natural syncopations, yet the nuances of language and relationship soar as gracefully as the abundant wildfowl that crowd the book's pages. News is the old currency, carried in the dialogue which remains McGahern's most discernible talent. Set in rural County Leitrim, the inhabitants of the houses around the lake and the local town, heady on the whiskey elixir that loosens tongues or seals deals, watch as their insular community is gently pummelled by the creeping advance of modern life. While they share the year's natural cycle, the unfolding months reveal their personal differences: Joe and Kate Ruttledge, returned after a long spell in London; Mary and Jamesie, their whole life lived there; John Quinn, the charming, brutal womaniser, who marries and loses as quickly the bride he finds at the Knock Marriage Bureau; The Shah, Kate's uncle, who wordlessly sells his business to his cripplingly honest assistant, Frank; and Jimmy Joe Kiernan, auctioneer and undertaker, a veteran IRA man still on the lookout for stray souls. And then there is Jamesie's brother Joseph, the best shot in the district, who went to England after a woman, and stayed there, his soul sold for the "alphabetical" order of English life.

There is little alphabetical to McGahern's view of life, though there is consummate poetry. His narrative quietly rumbles out its melody through gentle variance, undulating conversations over the restless scars of violent pasts and fractured presents, the Troubles only ever across the nearby border. Stories are for the re-telling, yet the intrusion of telephone wires and Blind Date merely formalises the inevitable, the secularisation of ritual, and the dying of belief, if not yet habit. Already acclaimed as one of Ireland's leading writers for works such as High Ground and Amongst Women, to read this offering is to appreciate the unique beauty of the novel form, and the rare, bewitching talent of John McGahern. --David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Quite exquisite... changes the whole character of fiction.' Sunday Telegraph 'A luminous new novel from Ireland's greatest living novelist.' Observer

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The mellowing of John McGahern continues with this latest novel, his first for twelve years. McGahern's early work, both long and short fiction, is characterised by a sense of repressed emotion in his characters and a bleak take on "the human condition". But here he continues on from where he left off in "Amongst Women" with a less suffocating exposition of the situations his characters live their lives in. True, we are still presented with a locale which is remote and unchanging and characters who find themselves shackled by either youthful errors of judgment or the habits of a lifetime. Yet it is the upbeat side of these habits of a lifetime which concerns McGahern latterly: the regularity of people's behaviour, the repetition and routine of days and weeks and years.
Perhaps, the novel is lesser in stature for the lack of any real plot or narrative drive and we are left wondering about some lesser-described characters, so vividly evoked are the ones we are introduced to. What, for example, is the fuller story of Jimmy Joe Kiernan?
Beautifully-written, in that familiar spare and unpretentious literary style of McGahern's, it is engaging throughout but there are nevertheless some especially startling (the first wedding of John Quinn) and touching (the ad hoc preparations for a wake) sections.
For those unfamiliar with McGahern, everything he has ever written is recommended but this, a further maturing of his genius, is his best yet and is definitely an early contender for this Autumn's literary prizes.
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Format: Hardcover
As an antidote to the blare of modern living, Mr McGahern's new novel can hardly be more strongly recommended. The gentle ripple of the prose makes you feel, having read it, that you have been given the secret of time and its passing, without the necessary expenditure of years.
As regards the apparent lack of plot, I would say it has no more and no less plot than any of our own lives. And while it is true that some of the characters may not have all their backgrounds filled in, I think we have all the background we need. Even in relation to some people we might consider important to us, we usually don't have all the background we might want.
I rather think these features are an integral part of the spell the author conjures. He makes you feel you are a special kind of witness to all the goings on. As usual with Mr McGahern, the human faults are delicious to behold. But the lasting value is again found in the subtlety with which he captures the everyday heroism implicit in humility.
The book is about life in an unheralded corner of Ireland and it is about everywhere. Anyone interested in truly great fiction should read it.
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Format: Paperback
It must be just me, as I see that I am the only person to be writing a five star review. I have read this book four times. It is my number one Desert Island Book. I love a book that I can read slowly just as much as one I want to read fast. It is true in every phrase, perfect in every sentence, eye-opening, poignant. I feel as if I have been living with these characters for a decade. I wish I was there at Gloria Bog with them.
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By A Customer on 9 Jan. 2002
Format: Hardcover
John McGahern is a wonderful writer. This book is a hommage to a lifestyle that not many Irish people know any more. Set in rural Ireland, most of the characters are from a farming community and farming and rural life are lovingly depicted. Descriptions are wonderfully vivid, both of nature and landscape and the carrying out of routine tasks and chores. If the right director got his/her hands on this book and turned it in to a film, one could imagine a film of great beauty.
The characters are well developed and dialogue is wonderful, catching the wit and wonderful turns of phrase that still exist in rural Ireland.
This is a book you could read twice in a row and still enjoy. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A haunting subtle, poetic story about the ordinary lives of friends and neighbours in a small, tightly knit Irish community. One of those books that you take out and re-read again and again - and always find something new. John McGahern knows the countryside, the farming, the local politics ( with a small ' p ' ) and society so well, and can convey all the nuances to a fine nicety. A great book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you like a beautifully written book that is not a racy thriller and doesn't have a fast-moving plot, but is atmospheric and lyrically descriptive. then you will enjoy this. I had never heard of the author before but quite understand that he is very well regarded - his writing captures an image to perfection and describes a character so well that you almost feel they are in the room with you. The "action" takes place around a lake in Ireland and describes the life of the people living in the area across the span of a year, with its daily conversations, its little scandals, family stories, rivalries and so forth. Not a lot happens overall, and it is very Irish! But there is no doubt that it is exquisitely written. A gentle read for when you are not rushing around - take it to the country on holiday for instance.
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By A Customer on 9 April 2002
Format: Hardcover
When I first started reading McGahern's book, I felt like someone had missed the first 20 pages of it out. Somehow, in my edition, I was thrown headlong into day-to-day life without much concept of the reason why. No plot was evident. No characters were fully sketched out with a view to orienting the reader to understand what was happening. And, strangely, it was good.
Reading this book is kind of like moving to a place that you've never been before and where you don't know the people around you. You get to know the characters and the plot only over time. And...there is a plot - if you consider the day-to-day comings and goings of life a plot.
Having just finished the book a few days ago, I have to say that the book was very impressive. It didn't try to dazzle or amaze with any feats of literary legerdemain. McGahern didn't feel the need to impress me with his knowledge of a subject other than daily existence. A grand book, a soothing read, and very worthy.
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