Lizzie's War: A Novel

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9780060562342: Lizzie's War: A Novel

A stunning new novel from the author of the beloved The Monk Downstairs -- hailed by critics and readers alike as "captivating" and "enthralling" (Books & Culture) and "tender [and] witty" (New York Times Book Review).

Elizabeth O'Reilly, the wife of a career Marine Corps officer and mother of four children (with one on the way), finds herself at odds with just about everything in her life. Having seen her husband off to Vietnam, she's left to contend with her own desires and yearnings -- trying to care for her children while longing to pick up the theater career she abandoned for the demands of motherhood.

Liz finds solace in a friendship with Father Ezekiel Germaine, a war veteran and eccentric priest with an appreciation for irony, and in the wary camaraderie of Betty Simmons, another military housewife, whose cocktails help Liz take the edge off.

While Liz struggles with the vicissitudes of life on the home front, her husband, Captain Michael O'Reilly, commands an infantry company in Vietnam. Mike has no illusions about the glamour and glory of war; he is a man who understands the meaning of fighting for his country and has made his peace with it for better and for worse.

In the end, though, it is Lizzie's war. And it is Liz O'Reilly, a complex woman wrestling with conflicting commitments, loyalties, and sympathies, who is the heart of the novel. Beginning with the Detroit riots in the summer of 1967 and ending on Labor Day weekend, 1968, Lizzie's War is a vivid chronology of that watershed time in America intertwined with the personal histories of the O'Reilly family. Portraying the ravages of war as well as the dark humor of a soldier navigating life in the trenches, the clash of a mother's everyday duties with her unspoken desires, and the age-old conflict between God and humanity, Lizzie's War is an unforgettable family epic. What also emerges is a genuine love story. Liz O'Reilly and her unexpected war will linger long after the last page is turned.

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About the Author:

Tim Farrington is the author of Lizzie's War, The Monk Downstairs,—a New York Times Notable Book—and The Monk Upstairs, as well as the critically acclaimed novels The California Book of the Dead and Blues for Hannah.

From Publishers Weekly:

Liz and Mike O'Reilly's marriage weathers the Vietnam War in Farrington's fourth novel (after The Monk Downstairs), a well-crafted but somewhat timeworn story about a military family's stoicism in the field and on the home front. Capt. Michael O'Reilly, USMC, ships out from Okinawa for Da Nang, while back home in Detroit, where the streets are afire from the 1967 riots, a pregnant Liz struggles alone to raise their four children. Mike is "turned toward battle like a plant toward the sun," but Liz quietly curses the Marine Corp and draws on hidden reserves of strength to be a good Catholic wife and mother. As commander of a beleaguered company in Vietnam, Mike is badly wounded and further strains the marriage when he returns to combat instead of coming home. Meanwhile, a near miscarriage in her third trimester almost costs Liz her life, but she decides to keep the baby rather than guarantee her own survival. Farrington's graceful prose moves the engaging narrative along at a brisk clip, but tough, noble Mike and tough, big-hearted Liz remain mired in type. The result is a compassionate but unambitious novel about enduring marital love and family ties during wartime from an author who was willing to take greater risks in his earlier works.
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