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Mary George of Allnorthover Hardcover – July 9, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Precise, lyrical prose distinguishes London poet Greenlaw's haunting debut novel, set in a dying English country village in the 1970s. British reticence and punk music provide the backdrop for the story of 17-year-old Mary George, a young woman growing up without direction. When Tom Hepple, a local who has spent the last decade in psychiatric care, returns to Allnorthover, he seeks out his childhood home, long since buried under the town's reservoir. An optical trick leads him to believe that he sees Mary walking on water above his home, a belief spurred by both his mental turmoil and the burden of family trauma. Although Tom's twin brother and other of his family members try to deflect Tom's obsession, he compulsively pursues the girl. Meanwhile, Mary simply tries to remain invisible as she contends with her own insecurities. Both of her parents are off-kilter: her architect father lives like a recluse outside town, and her mother pleads with Mary to remember her father's indiscretions and his past dealings with the Hepples (referring to a scandal that the reader learns about only gradually) while assuring her of Tom's harmlessness. Mary is also figuring out how to belong to a family, to a group of friends, to a boyfriend and her search dredges up further secrets and class tensions. At town festivals and rave shows, the pre-goth Mary and a band of sympathetic characters move slowly in different directions, but also toward an inexorable and tragic denouement. Greenlaw sets her secret-filled story in a meticulously realistic setting a village where all the families are intertwined by shared history and where fuel shortages and power cuts signal the disruption that will follow. Rights sold in Germany and the Netherlands.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In the 1970s, Mary George is a typical teenager living with her mother, Stella, in the small English village Allnorthover. She rarely sees her father, who divorced Stella when Mary was four. As the novel opens, Mary, returning from an all-night party, reverts to a childhood pastime and walks along a tree branch that overhangs the local water reservoir. Her balancing act is witnessed by Tom Hepple, a local madman. Now Tom believes that Mary has walked on water and that she is an angel who will show him how to reclaim his family home, which lies beneath the water. Soon the village is aware of his obsession with Mary. Mary, who is experiencing all of the normal teenage angst first serious boyfriend, part-time jobs, and the history of her parents' divorce simply tries to avoid Tom; however, a collision is unavoidable. Greenlaw describes the village and its inhabitants in fine detail, portraying ancient feuds and family histories as the villagers interact with Tom, Mary, and one another. This first novel is a moving exploration of Mary's maturation into adulthood. Recommended for larger public libraries. Cheryl L. Conway, Univ. of Arkansas Lib., Fayetteville
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company (July 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618095233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618095230
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,044,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hendry VINE VOICE on October 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Mary George of Allnorthover is an unique coming-of0age novel with a unique protagonist. Mary Beorge, a young girl growing up in a small British town in the 1970s tries to deal with here parents' separation, boys, the mysteries of her own past and Tom, a local man fresh from institutionalization who believes she can walk on water. Mary is definitely on the brink of something--she can see it and we can see it--and like most teens, she is desperately trying to determine what that is, where she fits in, who her friends should be. The novel is beautifully written, if a little slow, but still very well done.
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