The late Billy Lynch's family and friends gather at a small bar and grill in the Bronx to remember better times. His widow, Maeve, is there and everyone admires the way she is holding up, just as they always admired the way she cared for Billy after the alcohol had ruined him. But one cannot think of Billy without saying at some point, 'There was ...
The late Billy Lynch's family and friends gather at a small bar and grill in the Bronx to remember better times. His widow, Maeve, is there and everyone admires the way she is holding up, just as they always admired the way she cared for Billy after the alcohol had ruined him. But one cannot think of Billy without saying at some point, 'There was that girl'. On Long Island one summer years ago, Billy fell in love with a beautiful Irish girl working for a wealthy Park Avenue family. Billy wanted to marry Eva, but then she went back to Ireland. And then Billy's cousin Dennis had to break the terrible news: Eva had died of pneumonia. Billy never got over it. Anybody who knew him would tell you so. Billy began courting Maeve not long after, but for the rest of their lives, he, she and Dennis shared a hidden, twisted grief.
Publishers Weekly, 1997-10-06 The death of charming Billy Lynch from alcoholism is the starting point from which McDermott (At Weddings and Wakes) meticulously develops this poignant and ironic story of a blighted life set in the Irish-American communities of Queens, the Bronx and the Hamptons. With dialogue so precise that a word or two conjures a complex relationship, she examines the curse of alcoholism and the cost it takes on family and friends. Did Billy drink because of a broken heart caused by the death of Eva, the young woman he ardently loved who had gone back to Ireland after their brief summer together? If so, his cousin Dennis has much on his conscience, since he knew that Eva used the money Billy sent her for return passage to put a down payment on a gas station for the man she decided to marry. Dennis spared Billy the humiliation of public jilting by inventing the story of Eva's demise. Or is alcoholism "the genetic disease of the Irish," a refuge for souls who can sustain their religious faith in an afterlife only if earthly existence is pursued through a bleary haze? Was plain, courageous Maeve, the woman Billy eventually married, devastated by his drinking, or was her uncomplaining devotion yet another aspect of an ancient pattern in Irish families? McDermott sensitively probes the ties of a people bound by blood, long acquaintance, shared memories, the church and the tolerance of liquor in its men. If Billy drank to sustain his belief in heaven, to find redemption for his unfulfilled life on earth, is the church's teaching about death "a well intentioned deception"? McDermott's compassionate candor about the demands of faith and the realities of living brings an emotional resonance to her seamlessly told, exquisitely nuanced tale. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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