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A World Away

O'Nan, Stewart

170 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0805057749 / ISBN 13: 9780805057744
Published by Holt, New York, 1998
Condition: Fine Soft cover
From Clayton Fine Books (Shepherdstown, WV, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Fine in original wrappers. Advance Reader's Copy. Signed by O'Nan on the title-page. Bookseller Inventory # b23516

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Bibliographic Details

Title: A World Away

Publisher: Holt, New York

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Soft Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

A major new novel by the award-winning author named by Granta as one of America's best young writers. Set at a remote beachfront cottage in the Hamptons one summer during the Second World War, A World Away follows the fortunes of the Langer family, whose oldest son, Rennie, is missing in action in the Pacific theater. As we are soon aware, there is another battle raging at the same time, this one on the domestic front, as Anne and James Langer's marriage begins to unravel. In part to repay her husband for his affair with a student, Anne begins a clandestine romance with a soldier stationed at a nearby base. Yet all the passion and tenderness she finds with her lover is unable to ease Anne's empty ache from having her family torn apart.

Thousands of miles away, Rennie is wounded in the effort to drive the Japanese from the island of Attu in the Aleutians, as Dorothy, his young wife, gives birth alone in San Diego. When Rennie comes home, his spirit as wounded as his body, it's clear that James and Anne must repair their own broken lives if they're going to help their son heal and bring their family back together. A World Away is a rich, romantic story that has all the depth and generosity of spirit Stewart O'Nan's work is known for.

Review:

Set against the backdrop of World War II, Stewart O'Nan's book A World Away is a graceful exploration of a family facing a series of devastating events. Stripped of the ideal touchstones of domestic life--an accepting community, fidelity, a country at peace--the Langers take up temporary residence in Long Island with James's dying father. There each family member drifts into emotional isolation, fueled by uncertainty and worry. At the center of the storm is James, a former high school teacher "on the wrong side of fifty" who has committed the classic middle-aged sin of falling in love with a student, and his wife, Anne, angry and resentful at having been emotionally erased. Their oldest son, Rennie, has finally enlisted and is now a medic on the Pacific front, while his younger brother, Jay, haunted by violent dreams, imagines Rennie's face on the body of every dead Newsreel soldier. Another newer, and not quite accepted, member of the family, Rennie's teenage war bride, Dorothy, brings a poignant edge to the novel as we follow her to San Diego where she lives, alone and frightened, waiting for the birth of their child.

O'Nan's clean prose is a pleasure to read, and he infuses his characters' world with a quiet sensitivity, deftly capturing their loneliness. A World Away is a gentle and thoroughly compassionate portrait of a family stunned by change, struggling to regain its balance and its heart. Just as the Langers have no way of knowing if Rennie will come home, they are even more uncertain if they can, or will, return to each other. --Marianne Painter

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