Thursday, 21 January 2010

Amongst Women

Title: Amongst Women

Author: John McGahern

Number of pages: 184

Started: 15 January 2010

Finished: 21 January 2010

Opening words:

As he weakened, Moran became afraid of his daughters. This once powerful man was so implanted in their lives that they had never really left Great Meadow, in spite of jobs and marriages and children and houses of their own in Dublin and London. Now they could not let him slip away.

Plot summary:

A lyric lament for Ireland, McGahern's lovingly observed family drama is dominated by an almost pathetic paterfamilias. Gruff, blustering Michael Moran, former guerrilla hero in the Irish War of Independence, is a man "in permanent opposition." Now a farmer, he vents his compulsion to dominate, his cold fury and sense of betrayal on his three teenage daughters. Yearning for approval but fearing his flare-ups, they periodically beat a path back to the farmhouse from London and Dublin, then take flight again, both proud and dependent. Moran's second wife, Rose, much younger than he, displays saintly patience in her attempts to heal this splintering family. Moran also claims a renegade son in London who is "turning himself into a sort of Englishman," and another son driven away by Moran's threats of beatings.

What I thought:

This book was an interesting read. To a degree, not a lot happened. It centred around the controlling nature of the father, Moran, who sought to guide his children (and others) in the belief that he was a decent man who only wanted what was best for them. In reality, he held his children back and they escaped him by moving to places like Dublin or London – and yet still they were drawn back at various times, and somehow all but one could not let him go. It was quite a dark book and one that did not show a good side of family life. One to ponder I think.

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