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In 1946 rural Ireland, Brideen Conway has her heart set on Kieran McDermot, but one thing stands in the way of their union. The couple can't afford to marry, and Kieran's curmudgeonly father won't pass down the family farm. Kieran faces the unpleasant possibility of leaving Brideen behind to find his fortune in England.
Meanwhile, wealthy pub owner Austin Glynn has more than enough money to offer a substantial dowry, if only someone would take an interest in his daughter Aideen. Kieran's feckless older brother Martin volunteers to take Aideen's hand, though the rest of the village suspects he's interested more in Austin's dowry than in his daughter.
When Martin disappears after his proposal and is believed to be dead, the parish priest Father Donovan sets in motion a plot to see Brideen and Kieran wed. After all, so what if the dowry might change hands a few more times than is entirely usual, as long as the couple can tie the knot?
In The Dowry, Walter Keady spins a winsome tale in the best traditions of Irish literature, applying a wealth of charm and graceful wit to this story of love, money, and marriage.
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Walter Keady was born and educated in Ireland. He was ordained and served as a Catholic missionary priest in Brazil for several years. After leaving the priesthood he moved to the United States where he has lived ever since. His previous novels include Celibates and Other Lovers, Mary McGreevy, and The Altruist. He lives in New York.From Publishers Weekly:
The young people of Coshlawn Crann in rural Ireland simply aren't marrying and properly propagating in the hardscrabble postwar 1946. It's all about the economy, and Father Donovan isn't above using the power of his collar to lean on two locals who can get something done: rich skinflint farmer Tom McDermott and publican Austin Glynn (some of whose wealth comes from bank robberies long ago in the Bronx). Tom's older son, Martin, the town Lothario, soon finds himself engaged to Austin's daughter, Aideen, a good-hearted girl with a face "like the back of a bus." Biking home from popping the question, Martin runs into Barney Murphy's donkey on the bridge, tumbles into the river and is believed drowned. He quickly decides to stay dead and slips off to London—where he soon wearies of actually having to work and starts dreaming about Aideen's dowry. Ex-priest Keady (The Altruist) writes with authority about matters of the church. He's also a sharp plotter, and his characters shine: from Brideen Conway, the comely schoolteacher Father Donovan loves a little too much, to strap-happy schoolmaster Alphonsus Finnerty, who secretly writes romances as "Laura Devon." The multiple happy endings may be inevitable, but they're earned. (Mar.)
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