For thirty-some years, Lyle has made a life for his family working as an accountant. But when he retires, his Irish-born wife, Mary, wants to leave America and go home -- where the ocean is near and the butter has flavor.
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 content years does not mean that a couple is immune to romantic intrigue. In this new life, while Mary and Lyle are rediscovering each other and building a richer life together, an unexpected event forces Lyle to decide where his home truly is.
Told in "quiet stories with emotions like old stepping-stones that have sunk beneath the surface" (Christian Science Monitor), Beth Lordan's evocative and heartfelt novel explores the complex emotional terrain of mature marital relationships.
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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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