The Walking People

Mary Beth Keane, Author
Mary Beth Keane, Author . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $25 (416p) ISBN 978-0-547-12652-4
Reviewed on: 01/12/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-547-39436-7
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-88187-7
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-547-33612-1
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Debut author Keane offers an extended meditation on leaving, finding and making home in a novel focused on the new Irish immigrant experience. Awkward, dreamy Greta Cahill was always in the shadow of her vivacious older sister, Johanna, as the two grew up on the far west coast of Ireland. Surrounded by houses left vacant by neighbors who emigrated, adventurous Johanna dreams of America, especially when, in the aftermath of a family tragedy, she befriends Michael Ward, the son of itinerant tinkers who wants nothing more than to stay in one place. When teenaged Johanna's dream comes true, Michael and Greta are dragged along to America in Johanna's impetuous wake. In New York City, however, Greta and Michael create their own home, happiness and success. The narrative, which extends from 1956 to the present, has the dusty feel of 19th-century literature, though Greta is an appealing character lacking in nostalgia. Her romance is also authentic and unsentimental, and despite the stodgy storytelling, her coming-of-age reflects a fresh take on the lives recent immigrants can create. (May)

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