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CHARMING BILLY

McDermott, Alice.

8,309 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0374120803 / ISBN 13: 9780374120801
Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux., NY:, 1998
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About this Item

HC in dust jacket. 1st Printing. Winner of the National Book Award. This copy signed by McDermott on a specially tipped in page. Previous owner's name on front free endpage. A fine copy in a near fine dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # 20292

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Bibliographic Details

Title: CHARMING BILLY

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux., NY:

Publication Date: 1998

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Alice McDermott tells the story of Billy Lynch within the complex matrix of a tightly knit Irish American community, in a voice that is resonant and full of deep feeling. Charming Billy is a masterpiece about the unbreakable bonds of memory and desire.

Review:

Charming Billy is a devastating account of the power of longing and lies, love's tenacity, and resignation's hold. Even at his funeral party, Billy Lynch's life remains up for debate. This soft-spoken, poetry lover's drinking was as legendary among his Queens, New York, family and friends as was his disappointment in love. But the latter, as his cousin Dennis knows, "was, after all, yet another sweet romance to preserve." After World War II, both young men had spent one sun-swept week on Long Island, renovating a house and falling in with two Irish sisters--nannies to a wealthy family--"marveling, marveling still, that this Eden was here, at the other end of the same island on which they had spent their lives."

By the end of their idyll, Billy and Eva were engaged, though she was set to return to County Wicklow. Determined to earn enough money to bring her, her family, and if necessary her entire village back to the U.S., Billy took two jobs, one of which would indenture him for years. But despite the money he sent, Eva never returned, and then was suddenly dead of pneumonia. The true tragedy is that she had simply kept her fare and married someone else--a secret Dennis keeps for the next 30 years as he watches Billy fall into a loveless marriage and the self-administered anesthesia of alcohol.

Alice McDermott's quiet, striking novel is a study of the lies that bind and the weight of familial wishes. She seems far less interested in the shock of revelation than in her characters' power to live through personal disaster. As Dennis's daughter pieces together Billy's real history, she also learns of the accommodations her own family had long made--and discovers that good intentions can be as destructive as the truth they mean to hide.

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