Annie Dunne and her cousin Sarah live and work on a small farmin a remote and beautiful part of Wicklow in late1950s Ireland. All about them the old green roads are being tarred, cars are being purchased, a way of life is about to disappear. Like two old rooks, they hold to their hill in Kelsha, cherishing everything. When Annie's nephew and his wife are set to go to London to find work, their two small children, a little boy and his older sister, are brought down to spend the summer with their grand-aunt. It is a strange chance of happiness for Annie. Against that happiness moves the figure of Billy Kerr, with his ambiguous attentions to Sarah, threatening to drive Annie from her last niche of safety in the world. The world of childish innocence also proves sometimes darkened and puzzling to her, and she struggles to find clear ground, clear light - to preserve her sense of love and place against these subtle forces of disquiet. A summer of adventure, pain, delight and ultimately epiphany unfolds for both the children and their elderly caretakers in this poignant and exquisitely told story of innocence, loss and reconciliation.
This is a truly affecting tale. Sebastian Barry (who was born in Dublin in 1955 and who now lives in Wicklow) is a writer of genuine skill, weaving a magical tale that exerts a considerable grip. Dispelled from her home by a brother-in-law about to remarry, Annie Dunne has found her own peculiar haven at her cousin's farm in Wicklow. In the rigours of farm work and the ebbs and flows of a rural community, Annie carves a tough but seemingly impregnable existence. When her nephew brings his children to stay for the summer, she is given a rare opportunity for love, pleasure and adventure. Almost inevitably though, her new-found joy is threatened by outside and sometimes intangible forces - awakening sexuality, creeping modernity, animosity, family shame and, not least, Annie herself. This is a poetically written, finely wrought novel which subtly transforms the reality of the narrative into something rich and strange. Barry is particularly skilled at finding interest in those details of everyday life which so easily pass us by, and his characterization is at its keenest with the multi-faceted Annie herself. The author's knowledge of Wicklow shines through as he creates an environment which always rings absolutely true. (Kirkus UK)
Number Of Pages: 240
Published: 1st July 2005
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9 x 1.7
Weight (kg): 0.17
Edition Number: 1