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Celebrated Irish author McGahern has written six novels, most recentlyBy the Lake(2002) and four short story collections. This is the first U.S. publication of his first novel, which was written in 1963. It is the story of Elizabeth Reegan, who, after years of being alone, marries a widower with three children. Her husband, a policeman, is a hard and bitter man who never passes up the opportunity to stick it to his rule-mongering boss. Endless chores and her deep awareness of her inability to soothe her husband's restlessness or to be an essential part of her stepchildren's lives have left Elizabeth dispirited. When she learns that she has breast cancer, her feelings about the futility of her life deepen, but she also sees the value in trying to meet her fate with dignity. Shot through with fatalism and told in reserved and beautiful prose, this authoritative novel conveys both the bleakness of the Irish civil servant's lot in the 1960s and the courage needed to face down frustration and despair.Joanne Wilkinson
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ISBN-10:  0142004251
ISBN-13:  978-0142004258
Author:  John McGahern
Publisher:  Penguin
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review by . August 08, 2004
I had to look for a long time for a copy of this novel when I wanted to read it last year; it's fantastic that it's been brought back into print in the US and abroad. The success of McG's recent novels Amongst Women and By the Lake/That They May Face the Rising Sun casts a soft light upon his earlier fiction from the 1960s, but this novel is no romantic landscape.    In the bogs of west-central Ireland, a policeman cycles about pretending to do his duty while his wife takes care …
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