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Down by the River

Edna O'Brien

429 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1857998731 / ISBN 13: 9781857998733
Published by Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ), 1997
Used Condition: Fair
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Ships from Reno, NV. Former Library book. Shows definite wear, and perhaps considerable marking on inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP90484095

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Down by the River

Publisher: Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )

Publication Date: 1997

Book Condition:Fair

About this title

Synopsis:

'Edna O'Brien is one of the greatest writers in the English-speaking world' New York Times Book Review In the deceptively idyllic setting of rural Ireland, a crime of passion results in an emotional battlefield. At the centre of the crisis a young girl struggles with the conflicts of mind and body, the teaching of her faith and her mounting bewilderment at what she must do. As she tries to conceal, then escape her fate, she finds herself driven to the brink of despair. And then her private - and redeemable - tragedy is dragged into the public realm, and the power of decision is taken out of her hands. 'An angry, violent yet startlingly beautiful book' Independent on Sunday'Taut and relentlessly powerful . . . O'Brien describes the tug of war between religious zealots and the kindly legal figures brilliantly. The story becomes grotesquely suspenseful and chilling' Literary Review'Extraordinary and gripping . . . Down by the River is her most exciting and rewarding book by far' Observer

Review:

A few years ago, Ireland was forced to confront its conscience when a 14-year-old girl, the purported victim of rape, sought an abortion in England. The ensuing legal and moral battles exposed the Emerald Isle's centuries-long struggles over religion, sexuality, and the position of women. Irish writer Edna O'Brien revisits this embattled territory in her novel Down by the River, a bleak, uncompromising chronicle of poverty, unwanted pregnancy, and despair. O'Brien's protagonist is Mary, almost 14 years old and pregnant by her widowed father. In a repressed, judgmental rural world, Mary can tell no one of her plight. Eventually she tries to drown herself, only to be rescued by a neighbor, Betty. When Betty learns the reason for Mary's suicide attempt, she arranges to take her to England for an abortion. Before the operation can occur, Mary is coerced into returning to Ireland and there she becomes the focal point in a ferocious nationwide debate about abortion.

O'Brien is unsparing in her depictions of the economic and emotional poverty in which her characters live, yet she can be surprisingly empathetic toward even the least likeable among them, showing, for example, the tender side of Mary's father even as she exposes his brutality. The book's language is rich and laden with imagery, at times in shocking contrast to the parched lives she describes. Down by the River is just the latest in a long line of fiercely honest books by a fearlessly honest author.

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