From the shores of Ireland, Cormac O'Connor sets out on a fateful journey to avenge the deaths of his parents and honour the code of his ancestors. His quest brings him to the settlement of New York, seething with tensions between English and Irish, whites and blacks, British and Americans, where he is swept up in a tide of conspiracy and violence ...
From the shores of Ireland, Cormac O'Connor sets out on a fateful journey to avenge the deaths of his parents and honour the code of his ancestors. His quest brings him to the settlement of New York, seething with tensions between English and Irish, whites and blacks, British and Americans, where he is swept up in a tide of conspiracy and violence. In return for aiding an African shaman who was brought to America in chains, Cormac is given an otherworldly gift: he will live forever - as long as he never leaves the island of Manhattan. A writer, a painter, and a man of sensual appetites, Cormac takes part in the dramas of his times through fat years and lean. Through it all, Cormac must fight, generation after generation, a force of evil that returns relentlessly in the scions of a single family. It is a family whose path first crossed his in Ireland and whose persistence puts at risk all his hopes for fulfilling his destiny. As he searches out these blood enemies, he must watch everyone he touches slip away. And so he seeks the mysterious dark lady who alone can free him from the blessing and the curse of his long life.
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For enyone who loves Ireland and/or New York, this is a great tale.
Apr 12, 2007
Entertaining Novel of New York Growing Up
In this somewhat fantastical novel, a man who starts out in 1800's Ireland ends up (due to a certain set of circumstances) fated to live forever...as long as he stays on the island of Manhattan. Hamill's portrayal of early Ireland is quite wonderful with lush details. Yes, his book feels padded in parts, but his transitions through time are very well handled. And watching New York grow around the protagonist is always engrossing, especially for locals.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-12-23 This novel demands that the reader immediately suspend disbelief, but if this summons is heeded the reward will be a superior tale told by Hamill (Snow in August; A Drinking Life) in the cadence of the master storyteller. The year is 1741 and this is the story of Cormac O'Connor-"Irish, and a Jew"-who grows up in Ireland under English Protestant rule and is secretly schooled in Gaelic religion, myth and language. Seeking to avenge the murder of his father by the Earl of Warren, he follows the trail of the earl to New York City. On board ship, Cormac befriends African slave Kongo, and once in New York, the two join a rebellion against the British. After the rising is quelled, mobs take to the streets and Kongo is seized. Cormac saves Kongo from death, but is shot in the process. His recovery takes a miraculous turn when Kongo's dead priestess, Tomora, appears and grants Cormac eternal life and youth-so long as he never leaves the island of Manhattan, thus the "Forever" of the title. What follows is a portrait of the "city of memory of which Cormac was the only citizen." Cormac fights in the American Revolution, sups with Boss Tweed (in a very sympathetic portrait) and lives into the New York of 2001. In that year he warily falls in love with Delfina, a streetwise Dominican ("That was the curse attached to the gift: You buried everyone you loved"), and comes into contact with a descendant of the Earl of Warren, the newspaper publisher Willie Warren. His love, his drive for revenge and his very desire to exist are fatefully challenged on the eve and the day of September 11. This rousing, ambitious work is beautifully woven around historical events and characters, but it is Hamill's passionate pursuit of justice and compassion-Celtic in foundation-that distinguishes this tale of New York City and its myriad peoples. 4-city author tour. (Dec.)
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