Agnes Rossi The Houseguest

ISBN 13: 9780452281974

The Houseguest

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9780452281974: The Houseguest
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In a novel set in 1934 Paterson, New Jersey, Irish independence fighter and recent widower Edward Devlin leaves his daughter in Ireland and heads for the U.S., his head filled with visions of his dead wife. Reprint.

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Review:

The Houseguest begins with a death in rural Ireland, a young wife killed by tuberculosis. Agnes Devlin leaves behind an emotional, flaky husband and a 6-year-old daughter headed for a life of neglect. As Agnes Rossi's fine third novel opens, the girl hears her father screaming in whiskey grief. "She wanted the noise, the trouble, whatever it was had them shouting and slamming doors and starting cars in the middle of the night, to stop. She wanted to go on sleeping. Stop it, please. God, please. And then, to her surprise and intense relief, quiet. She waited. Was it going to last?" Later, she is driven to the house of her spinster aunt, a woman who thinks giving a girl an orange to eat is spoiling her.

Much of The Houseguest concerns the widower Edward, who leaves behind Ireland for America as the Great Depression looms. Happily, Fitz, an old acquaintance, offers him a room in his house in Paterson, New Jersey. Soon Edward is in love again--this time with Fitz's wife, Sylvia--and his grief subsides, replaced by self-involved, desperate infatuation. One night, when the husband his away, the two go dancing:

Edward felt all the dreariness of the last months working its way out of his system. The smoky air, the effect of the guzzled whiskey, the fullness of Sylvia in his arms, healthy Sylvia who moved so well, the sound of swing, its exuberance that seemed hard-won, grounded, that was in no way trivial, a kind of wise liveliness, like genuine laughter in the middle of a bad time.
Even as Edward forgets the daughter he left behind, the reader never does, and that is what's so masterful about The Houseguest. As Rossi explores the narcissism of both love and grief, and the way lovers become a circle of two--with no place for a pathetic, precocious child--she reveals herself a gifted storyteller. Judging from this elegant, searing novel, seen from several viewpoints, this author has a million tales in her mind burning to be told. --Emily White

About the Author:

Agnes Rossi is the author of the 1992 story collection, The Quick, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and the 1994 novel, Split Skirt. She was a finalist for the 1996 Granta Best of Young Novelists Award.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780525943655: The Houseguest: A Novel

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  052594365X ISBN 13:  9780525943655
Publisher: Dutton Adult, 2000
Hardcover

9780786225477: The Houseguest

Thornd..., 2000
Hardcover

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