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Courage Of Girls (Rutgers Press Fiction)

Jean McGarry

3 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0813517710 / ISBN 13: 9780813517711
Published by Rutgers University Press, 1992
Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Courage Of Girls (Rutgers Press Fiction)

Publisher: Rutgers University Press

Publication Date: 1992

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good

Edition: First Edition - may be Reissue.

About this title


Loretta Costello St. Cyr doesn't want to kill time--she wants to save it, observing, reflecting but otherwise expending minimal energy; that McGarry ( The Very Rich Hours ) creates a lively novel around so quiet a character is impressive. Loretta is married to the opinionated, brilliant, difficult Daniel, who is working on his philosophy dissertation. The story, set primarily in New York City's East and West villages, picks up at different points during the 1970s and is interspersed with Loretta's memories of her childhood. She spends her days drawing, rereading an old recipe book and visiting with Margaret, an artist who collects figurines and small statues as well as assorted boyfriends. Unable to get over her depression following a miscarriage, Loretta retreats to the suburban home of the aunt and uncle who raised her after her alcoholic parents died in a car crash when she was nine. Daniel, desperate and confused, waits for her return. McGarry's deftly drawn characters--notably Loretta's mother, a drunk who hates housework but has a special gift for ironing--give this poignant novel its vibrancy.

From Kirkus Reviews:

After two books of linked short stories about Irish Catholics in Providence, Rhode Island, McGarry uses her first novel to track another Providence native, a d‚class‚ lapsed Catholic who moves to New York. Loretta Costello is the only child of working-class parents who fight and drink but give their daughter a companionable kind of love; her mother Eileen may be the best pal Loretta will ever have. Then both parents are killed in a car crash, and nine-year-old Loretta must move in with her aunt and uncle and cousin Gloria. There is no brawling in the dour Gillis household, but Loretta never more than grudgingly accepts the new regime; the notion of a rightful place is central to the novel, and Loretta loses hers early on. For a while salvation seems at hand in the form of Daniel St. Cyr, a lonely Harvard student who swoops down on her small Catholic school in Massachusetts and makes her see stars. Eventually they live together in a one-room Greenwich Village apartment; while the sharp-tongued, intolerant Daniel works on his dissertation on Kant, Loretta stays home and sketches or, guided by her one friend, art student Margaret Hopkins, discovers what remains of Bohemian life in the Village (the time is the mid to late 70's). McGarry moves easily between past and present and offers some amusing vignettes but doesn't do much with the becalmed Loretta and her slowly worsening marriage until a miscarriage and resultant depression take her back to Providence to regroup. An awkward, murky ending leaves her crisis unresolved. Line by line, McGarry's novel has considerable charm and, at its best, the bite and wit of a Mary McCarthy; but she doesn't have much of a story to tell, skimping on the Loretta/Daniel relationship and neglecting the other half of the picture, the wealthy St. Cyrs, almost completely. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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