But Come Ye Back: A Novel in Stories

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9780060530365: But Come Ye Back: A Novel in Stories

From Beth Lordan, the critically acclaimed author of August Heat and And Both Shall Row comes But Come Ye Back, an evocative and heartfelt novel in stories that explores the rhythms of marriage over three decades.

Mary Curtin, a young Irish nanny, and Lyle Sullivan, an American accountant, meet and fall in love at a picnic. For thirty-some years, Lyle, an impatient and demanding husband, makes a life for them in America. Through those years the accommodating Mary makes a home for them, where they raise two sons. But when Lyle retires, Ireland calls to Mary: she wants to grow old among her own kind, where the ocean is near and the butter has flavor. She wants to go home.

Somewhat grudgingly, Lyle agrees, but during their years in Galway, they discover that the surprises of life are not over. Going home is more complicated than butter and the bay, and thirty contented years does not mean that a couple is immune to romantic intrigue. Their bond is tested when Lyle meets a beautiful American woman and Mary finds a lonely Irish man. Yet for both, marriage is more than romance, home is more than a country. In this new life, Mary and Lyle will rediscover each other and are building a richer life together when an unexpected event forces Lyle to decide where his home truly is.

Lordan's stirring novel illuminates the complex emotional terrain of mature marital relationships, providing an unforgettable testament to the lifelong journey undertaken when lives intersect and intertwine. Masterful in its evocation of character and place, and suffused with the rhythms and flavors of the Irish seaside, But Come Ye Back is an astonishing and infinitely wise reflection on love in all its guises.

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About the Author:

Beth Lordan is the author of the novel August Heat and the short-story collection And Both Shall Row. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best of American Short Stories 2002, the Atlantic Monthly, and Gettysburg Review, as well as on NPR's Selected Shorts. The recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as an O. Henry Award for her short fiction, Lordan teaches fiction writing at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She lives in Carbondale, Illinois, with her husband.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this gentle, understated novel in stories, Lordan (And Both Shall Row; August Heat) follows an American couple who retire to Galway after a workaday existence in Ohio. Irish-born Mary fulfills the immigrant's dream of returning to Ireland after raising two boys, and her accommodating Irish but American-born husband, Lyle, gruffly tolerates the late-life move. While Mary blooms in her old home, Lyle, a retired accountant, approaches the transition as just another hurdle. He openly dislikes Ireland and Irish people, and resists the local vernacular: a "prom" will forever refer to a high school dance and not a bayside walkway. Slowly, however, he adjusts and even revels in his foreigner status. The couple must do more than simply adjust to a strange culture and climate; Mary and Lyle must also rework their relationship and each is tempted by a new love interest. Lyle is drawn to an attractive American tourist, and Mary spends time with a lonely Irish widower. Then Mary unexpectedly falls ill, and Lyle must decide on which side of the Atlantic his heart belongs. Lordan's muted prose and fluting Irishisms ("Right, so," "Grand") are pleasant if rather self-conscious, and her characters are human, breathing people, forthrightly crafted. The novel-in-stories structure produces some inconsistencies and redundancies, but this is a quietly engaging effort.
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