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History of the Rain: A Novel Kindle Edition
|Length: 369 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Top customer reviews
I woke up thinking about this novel, and I almost regret dedicating my morning to finishing it. But sometimes a story begs to be devoured.
Sometimes, you can tell an author is a devout reader through their writing. Niall Williams clearly is one of these types, based on History of the Rain. So, of course, I love him the more for it. This is a story of family, history, love, tragedy, Ireland, and books. And it's probably my favorite Man Booker 2014 longlisted novel so far.
Ruth lives in her room due to a vague illness and a fear of the outdoors. She's inherited her father's extensive library, where she attempts to find him, one book at a time. Throughout the story, books are dropped like rain, and I was personally reminded of how many I need to experience. Though I'm very familiar with one of the most important writers frequently mentioned: Yeats. For how could you not include him in an Irish novel about writing and poetry? So, he's there. History of the Rain will surely strike a chord in people who appreciate not just the story inside the books, but the history and physicality of them as well. I'm firmly in the camp of books being a necessary part of my home's ecosystem. But as I've gotten older I've come to relish certain stories not just for the meaning of their content but for the fact that they were purchased and read by my father. A few he's given to me, and reading them is something personally spectacular. Though I'm not searching for my father in the way Ruth must, I find through his books how he came to be who he is now, before I ever existed. A moment like this I could particularly see in my own father (and perhaps a quality in myself):
"The library that grew in our house contained all my father's idiosyncrasies, contained the man he was at thirty-five, and at forty, at forty-five. He did not edit himself. He did not look back at the books of ten years ago and pluck out the ones whose taste was no longer his."
I can relate to this as my Father's only daughter (and child), and the importance it's had on my own life. Williams writes of a father/daughter relationship not often seen in literature, though these are generally portrayed much less than father/son relationships in the first place.
Niall Williams writes with beautiful clarity and apparent ease. Hardly a chapter or page went by without a pause to take note of something profound. The imagery evoked in this sleepy community celebrates the Irish qualities that only such an account as this can excite. I wanted to fly to Ireland immediately while reading, but perhaps I should explore my own history first.
If themes like this are of any interest, I encourage a thorough reading of this chronicle of one family. Though you don't need to be a Swain, or Irish for that matter, you may find pieces of your own history in this account, like I did.
This is a deeply moving book that shows us what it is to be ourselves. There are moments of terrible sadness here when death strikes because the reader is made aware of the love that everyone has for each other that makes these events profoundly moving using an extraordinary economy of words.Ruth makes you feel part of this family and the wider community as she views the world from the restricted confines of her room in the attic through the pages of the massive quantity of books that threaten her very safety. You dare not skip a sentence, for if you do you might miss a sharp comment or observation that will have you in stitches; that Irish humour that enables them not to take life too seriously, which Ruth has in abundance. The glue that bonds the entire story together is literature, and more importantly, poetry but do not allow the amazing references that the author provides to distract you from what is ultimately a deeply emotional tale of one family, whose refusal to conform to the ordinary provides us with characters in this book, with not a mean one amongst them, for whom one generates an enormous affection.This is possibly my most enjoyable read of the year.
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