Younger Than Springtime

Andrew M. Greeley, Author
Andrew M. Greeley, Author Forge $24.95 (348p) ISBN 978-0-312-86572-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 480 pages - 978-0-8125-9026-5
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4299-1221-1
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The leisurely, enjoyable sequel to Greeley's A Midwinter's Tale again follows the O'Malley family of Chicago. Here he chronicles the romantic and spiritual fortunes of returned soldier Chuck O'Malley, who comes home in 1949, having been stationed for two years in postwar Germany. Enrolling in Notre Dame, he finds himself chafing against the narrow intellectual limits of the curriculum, and he also struggles mightily, even self-mockingly, with the sin of lust. The conversational, reflective first-person narration sets a relaxed tone as Chuck, admiring the two-piece bathing suits newly in vogue, develops a passion for photography. The central image, bookending the novel, is a snapshot Chuck takes of beautiful Rosemarie Clancy, the troubled alcoholic daughter of Chuck's father's best friend. The photo of Rosemarie, in d shabill , gets Chuck into trouble at Notre Dame and concatenates his search for spiritual meaning within the strict prohibitions of the Church. Chuck and Rosemarie's lifelong mutual attraction permeates the novel, with Greeley shifting focus in the middle of the book to Chuck's father, John. The elder O'Malley tells of how he met Chuck's mother, and the part Rosemarie's father, Jim Clancy, played in the eventual union. John O'Malley's story is deftly set in the center of Chuck's saga, creating correlative resonances that would be less graceful and harmonious in a single plot line. Greeley conveys a palpable nostalgia, as if each story of love won and lost is simply the latest echo of an earlier story, itself the echo of another. He captures, with signature expertise, both the essence (torturous guilt over sexual longings and transgressions) and the evocative details (students forbidden to read Ulysses, descriptions of women's fortresslike undergarments) of growing up Catholic in the late '40s. By the end, where Greeley skillfully ties up one plot line as he keeps the other aloft for the next book, readers may discover that they, too have been romanced--by an expert storyteller. $100,000 ad/promo. (Sept.)
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