The Banyan Tree

Christopher Nolan, Author, Fiona Shaw, Read by, Nicholas Jones, Producer
Christopher Nolan, Author, Fiona Shaw, Read by, Nicholas Jones, Producer Time Warner AudioBooks $24.98 (0p) ISBN 978-1-57042-976-7
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Hardcover - 374 pages - 978-1-86159-142-5
Hardcover - 512 pages - 978-0-7531-6104-3
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-55970-574-5
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-385-72068-7
Paperback - 374 pages - 978-1-61145-757-5
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Nolan's sensitive prose and Shaw's rum-raisin voice, which does so well in capturing the story's hardscrabble lives and tender diversions, combine to make this audio reading a consummate achievement. Nolan (Under the Eye of the Clock) tells the life of Minnie O'Brien, an Irish woman whose affectionate husband dies relatively young, leaving her to care for the family's farm. Their three children all seek their fortunes elsewhere, but Minnie holds out hope that her youngest, Frankie, will return to work his parents' land. It's for him that Minnie struggles to run the farm and keep it from Jude Fortune, her avaricious neighbor. Focusing on the simple trials and pleasures of pastoral life, Nolan imbues his characters and scenes with wit and vitality. Actress Shaw (Persuasion, etc.) gives the reading an Irish lilt, easily rendering Nolan's Joycean flourishes and slipping into a subtle brogue in the book's sparse dialogue. Although eventually Minnie discovers a family secret and, later, Frankie races to make it home before his mother's death, it's really in simpler things, such as a hypnotic description--and narrating--of churning butter, that this book's magic lies. Based on the Arcade hardcover (Forecasts, Feb. 7). (Apr.)
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