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The Misremembered Man Hardcover – March 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Memoirist McKenna's debut novel—a pastoral, feel-good yarn set in 1974 County Derry—concerns two Irish 40-somethings who meet through a newspaper Lonely Hearts column. Both farmer Jamie McCloone and schoolteacher Lydia Devine have suffered the recent death of a loved one. Jamie's traumatic childhood at a sweatshop run by the nuns from hell precipitates his dependence on Valium and whiskey. Lydia, meanwhile, grew up under the oppressive thumb of her now-dead rector father and—at age 40, still a virgin who has never tasted alcohol—decides it's time to live a little. The pair, of course, are grossly mismatched—she prim and buttoned-down, he a rough-edged rustic—which is underscored repeatedly during their lengthy postal courtship. Comic relief comes from Jamie's neighbors, the McFaddens, who do their best to aid Jamie and lift him from his saturnine moods. McKenna—who's written a memoir, My Mother Wore a Yellow Dress—places a few twists in the narrative, saving the most startling until the close. (Mar.)
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"Her portrait of rural life is amusing and affectionate, wittily and winningly detailed..." -- Kirkus
Top customer reviews
I regret that the author didn't use more Irish idioms and that from a purely practical point of view the story is rather unbelievable. But it has a sweet, feel-good ending which is irrestible. In short, I laughed and cried - it's a good book!
The young woman is much more courageous than the man. Though I often wanted to shake him from frustration--the neighbor woman did most of the letter-composing to arrange for the first date and cheered him on to follow through-- I completely understood his lack of self- confidence. The novel contains many flashbacks to him as a young orphan known simply as (number) ""86, suffering constant. terrible abuse by the orphanage staff. I found myself skimming through the flashbacks.
Without giving away the ending--if you're a mystery reader you'll probably guess it anyway, after their first meeting--I will say that both characters are less lonely when the story ends.
The last of these orphanages closed in 1996. 1996? 1996! Staggering it is the importance of such a well told tale by this author. I hope everyone of those children finds her book and feels the honor and respect this story imparts.
Family secrets and institutional secrets abound in the ripping up and apart of children's souls throughout history. The Catholic Church too many times was and is the Temple of Tears.
McKenna is the female Frank McCourt, in my humble opinion. The story grabbed me. McKenna has the Irish storytelling ability to take you to the edge of a most horrible abyss in the horror done to and experienced by children then give you humorous relief to stop you from going over that edge...to keep on reading to a deeply emotional comforting end of the story.
Character and place descriptions so vivid through the Looking Glass we go to inhabit another world.
Native Americans tell us storytelling is medicine, a good story is good medicine, this book is good medicine.
Bravo to the author.
I love how this story is not absolutely perfect and sunshine and roses...but those things *are* there, and serve as a reminder that while there's terrible pain in life, there's also astonishing kindness and beauty.
I love the unexpectedness of the ending. It was something Rose said that helped me figure it out and I just sat there in my chair and screamed with delight.
Yeah. Literally. So that was kind of weird of me....
But this is that kind of book. The amount of times I fell over (one time almost literally) laughing. And my kid looked at me like, "What the heck, Mum?!"
So yeah. Highly recommended. Definitely a must-read.