Elizabeth Morison is an ordinary woman. Yet to eight-year-old Bunny, his mother is the centre of his universe. To his older brother, Robert, she is someone he must protect against the dangers of the outside world. And to James Morison, his wife is the foundation on which his family rests and life without her is unimaginable. William Maxwell's ...
Elizabeth Morison is an ordinary woman. Yet to eight-year-old Bunny, his mother is the centre of his universe. To his older brother, Robert, she is someone he must protect against the dangers of the outside world. And to James Morison, his wife is the foundation on which his family rests and life without her is unimaginable. William Maxwell's unique and moving family portrait confirms his reputation as one of the twentieth century's finest novelists.
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Beautifully understated. Wonderfully sparse prose. No wasted words. Plenty of space for you to climb in and experience the atmosphere. Never before has a story from the perspective of a child been told better.
My Grandfather was the only survivor of a family of seven when the flu pandemic of 1918 struck. If you share a similar experience, all the more reason you should read this book.
Few know of Maxwell today. If you love the written word, be one of the few.
Dec 24, 2009
An understated gem
William Maxwell's work has long been recognized for its clarity and grace, even if his reputation has been less than that of more popular authors on the world stage. His books are introspective and normally quiet pieces, filled with a deep understanding of human nature and a sure eye for detail. This book captures the innocence of childhood and the pain of loss in beautiful prose. While Maxwell's style partakes of some modern techniques of flashback and shifting narrative points of view, its clarity is never in question. No reader will fail to be moved by his work, with passages that evoke tears - both from the sadness of the material and the moments of humor that inevitably come through in portraying a very real, and very human, family. 'They Came Like Swallows' is an excellent introduction to Maxwell's work. Readers who enjoy it should also try 'The Chateau,' which is very different in setting, and offers a great deal of subtle humor, as well as 'Ancestors,' which is almost symphonic in its composition, skillfully weaving family and national history. Maxwell's reputation will surely grow in the eyes of critics in years to come, who will place him in the first rank of American authors.
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