We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling. In Faha, County Clare, everyone is a long story... Bedbound in her attic room beneath the falling rain, in the margin between this world and the next, Plain Ruth Swain is in search of her father. To find him, enfolded in the mystery of ancestors, Ruthie must first trace the jutting jaw lines, narrow faces and gleamy skin of the Swains from the restless Reverend Swain, her great-grandfather, to grandfather Abraham, to her father, Virgil - via pole-vaulting, leaping salmon, poetry and the three thousand, nine hundred and fifty eight books piled high beneath the two skylights in her room, beneath the rain. The stories - of her golden twin brother Aeney, their closeness even as he slips away; of their dogged pursuit of the Swains' Impossible Standard and forever falling just short; of the wild, rain-sodden history of fourteen acres of the worst farming land in Ireland - pour forth in Ruthie's still, small, strong, hopeful voice. A celebration of books, love and the healing power of the imagination, this is an exquisite, funny, moving novel in which every sentence sings.
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Niall Williams was born in Dublin in 1958. He is the author of eight novels including John and Four Letters of Love for which he has recently completed the screenplay for Element Pictures. He lives in Kiltumper in County Clare, with his wife, Christine. niallwilliams.comReview:
This is an important new book and, without spoiling the riveting last chapter next Friday, the rewards increase tenfold the further into the story one gets * Book at Bedtime, Radio Times * A surge of language, beautiful and enchanting, a novel that weaves a love of literature into its own moving tale * Guardian * Extremely moving, poignantly capturing Ruth's doomed childhood relationship with her twin brother. By the final chapter I was weeping * Sunday Times * The Anne Enright award for the Irish novel most guaranteed to make you cry ... Niall Williams wins this year's award on the strength of his title alone ... Suffused with warmth and humour * Independent on Sunday * A rambling, soft-hearted Irish family saga stuffed with eccentricity, literature, anecdotes, mythology, humour and heartbreak from the author of Four Letters of Love * Kirkus * Williams' poetic prose meanders from page to page and becomes one with her voice in a poignant story about family, identity, love and loss, pain, faith and hope * Monocle * Extremely funny and clever, and packed with beautiful imagery. This is a brave and wildly imaginative novel, that certainly stands out in a genre of its own * Western Mail * A celebration of books, love and the healing power of the imagination * Irish Independent * Dazzling ... Paragraph after paragraph begs you to stop and reread it, to relish the lilt of it with your inner ear ... History of the Rain has the heft of a bigger book, that extra brainy oomph that flatters the juries of lit comps and nailed it a place on this year's Man Booker longlist. This is not boil-in-the-bag Irish stew, it is your rich, slow-simmered casserole of a novel, and Williams has the confidence to give his themes the time that they need to develop the full flavour ... It's satisfying entertainment for all * The Times * Pure eccentric entertainment ... The novel is suffused with this otherworldliness while being rooted in the everyday * Guardian * A beautiful poetic tale ... One to read slowly and savour * Irish Independent * Deeply allusive, infectiously hopeful ... Somewhere between bildungsroman, epic and family saga, History of the Rain is an unashamedly unfashionable, lyrical paean to the pleasure of reading and to serendipity ... A fresh and powerful reminder that: "We tell stories to heal the pain of living" **** * Daily Telegraph * Intelligent and caustic ... Williams' imagery glimmers through the veil of constant rain. A salmon fisherman's line "laying soft swished questions marks in the air" is an elegant motif and some observations about village life ring true ... Williams describes beautifully "the secret life inside" * Independent * History of the Rain is funny and painful and a linguistic delight. A multi-layered, mythological retelling of the making of a family and nation, all wrapped in the symbolism of the embattled salmon and the merciless, ever-driving rain * Eimear McBride, TLS * Williams's utterly glorious, funny, clever, literary tale ... somehow didn't make the leap from the Booker longlist to its shortlist. Inexplicably so, in the opinion of some, as rarely do novels come along that revel in language to the extent that this one does, and even more rarely do they combine that mastery with a deep humanity, too ... A lovely book, that deserves to be read and re-read ***** * Independent *
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