From Publishers Weekly
This rich, compelling novel is a domestic tragicomedy in which the details are as crucial as in a mystery story. During 50 years of married life in the same Dublin neighborhood, Dick Butler has provided for his wife, Lily. Despite Dick's occasional instances of "madness," Lily has always been deeply devoted to him, so she can barely bring herself to ask about the large checks for cash he's suddenly writing when he still considers central heating in their home too expensive. Their only daughter, Ruth, an architect, is single by choice and an ardent feminist who encourages her mother to stop playing a submissive role. When Lily awakens one night to find Dick under the bed--armed with a shotgun and convinced he has an intruder in his sights--she is not unduly alarmed; she rationalizes that it was probably only a dream. But after Dick's behavior becomes more bizarre, Ruth consults a young professor of psychiatry, Tim Walcott, and he persuades Dick to submit to tests that confirm his emotional distress as bipolar disorder. The action balances the farcical (when Dick's at home, he sells their new mattress for more than he paid for it) and the pathetic (when he's hospitalized, Lily is so lonely she makes a pet out of a mouse). Ruth, meanwhile, tries to comfort her mother and sort out her feelings for Walcott, who befriends both women. There's a suspenseful sequence of crises as Dick's condition, depicted with frankness and humor, deteriorates into full-blown manic depression, and the story turns on Lily's loving vigil. As in John Bayley's Elegy for Iris, Boylan's scrutiny of the intimate details and travails of an enduring marriage gives depth and vitality to an engrossing story, the basis for which Boylan (Home Rule) found in her own father's mental illness. (Apr. 1)Forecast: Despite its frank depiction of a syndrome that afflicts the elderly, this novel is a natural for handselling, a task made easier because of Boylan's ability to infuse gallows humor into her very engaging narrative. If booksellers get behind this title, it should thrive.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
After 50 years of marriage, Lily Butler was content to be submissive to her husband, Dick, allowing him to lead their lives and deferring to his judgment. But when Lily wakes up in the middle of the night to find Dick under the bed with a shotgun, convinced there's an intruder in their house, Lily's future doesn't seem so certain. The incident marks the beginning of Dick's illness as he plunges into manic depression. Pushed by their daughter, Ruth, Lily commits Dick to a mental institution. Now Lily must learn how to live alone, think for herself, and discover who she is without a husband. However, she becomes overwhelmed with the newfound freedom and attempts suicide. Although the story has promise, Boylan tries too hard to explore what it means to be a wife. It's obvious that Ruth, the rebellious, single daughter, is Lily's complete opposite, and Boylan offers her up as the opposing view of marriage to Lily's. However, when not trying to make deep social statements, Boylan tells a touching story of a woman who discovers life after marriage. Carolyn Kubisz
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