'I had in my care that summer four dogs, three cats, the Moran kids, Daisy, my eight-year-old cousin, and Flora, the toddler child of a local artist. There was also, for a little while, a litter of wild rabbits, three of them, that had been left under our back steps ' Alice McDermott's haunting and enchanting new work of fiction is narrated by a ...
'I had in my care that summer four dogs, three cats, the Moran kids, Daisy, my eight-year-old cousin, and Flora, the toddler child of a local artist. There was also, for a little while, a litter of wild rabbits, three of them, that had been left under our back steps ' Alice McDermott's haunting and enchanting new work of fiction is narrated by a woman who was born beautiful. Her parents decided that her best chance in life was to marry a wealthy man, so she was raised on the east end of Long Island, among the country houses of the rich. On the cusp of fifteen, she is the town's most sought-after babysitter - cheerful, beloved, a wonder with children and animals, but also a solitary soul with an already complex understanding of human nature - when her favourite cousin, Daisy, comes to spend the summer. The narrator's witty, piquant, deeply etched evocation of all that was really transpiring under the surface during that seemingly idyllic season gives her wry tale - infused with suppressed passion, disappointment, and enduring hope - its remarkable vividness and impact. Once again, Alice McDermott explores the mysterious depths of what seems like everyday life with unforgettable insight and resonant emotional power.
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It is the sort of book you wish it would take the whole summer to read. McDermott's Child of My Heart is like a literary version of the Nanny Diaries, this one beautifully written and over way too fast. Theresa's Eastern Long Island summers, taken up by babysitting for wealthier neighbours, is described so poignantly that anyone who reads it will feel like a 15 year old misfit for just a little while.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-10-07 There is something almost too good to be true about Theresa, the introspective and unusually perceptive narrator who recalls the summer of her 15th year in this engaging, taut novel by McDermott (Charming Billy). Theresa's Irish-American "well-read but undereducated" parents have little money but plenty of foresight; when they see that their only daughter will be beautiful, they move to East Hampton, Long Island, summer playground of New York City's richest, in the hopes that Theresa's beauty will eventually win her a wealthy husband. Because she has a way with children and animals, her parents have long encouraged her to baby-sit and pet-sit as a way to meet and impress the right people. This particular summer, her favorite cousin, eight-year-old Daisy, tags along as Theresa cares for dogs, cats, neighbor kids and a toddler named Flora, the only child of a 70-year-old womanizing artist and his fourth trophy wife. Entirely self-involved, the artist does manage to look away from his canvas and mistress long enough to notice Theresa, who finds his attentions exciting. Early on, Theresa discovers a tragic secret of Daisy's that she decides to keep to herself, which gives the summer and the book a wistful, melancholy air. As the girls corral their charges, Theresa offers half-innocent, half-ironic comments on the vanities and topsy-turvy family lives of her employers. This is another charmer from McDermott; it's evocative, gently funny and resonant with a sense of impending loss, as all stories of youthful summers must be. There's a whisper of maudlin sentimentality throughout, but Theresa is so likable, and her observations so acute, that one easily forgives it. (Nov. 25) Forecast: A tartly luscious lollipop-studded jacket makes this an enticing option for readers craving a taste of summer. McDermott fans will be thoroughly satisfied. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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