THIS COLD COUNTRY

Annabel Davis-Goff, Author, Davis-Goff, Author . Harcourt $25 (368p) ISBN 978-0-15-100847-6

Davis-Goff, author of The Dower House, a New York Times Notable Book, and Walled Gardens, a memoir, plumbs her Irish roots once more in this tale about a young English woman adjusting to new social, political and class demands when she moves to Ireland during World War II. A volunteer in England's Land Army, Daisy Creed works on a farm in Wales. Given the rare wartime occasion to meet an eligible bachelor, she quickly marries Patrick Nugent, a distant Anglo-Irish cousin of her employer. In a matter of days, Patrick is called on duty and Daisy joins Patrick's family in Ireland. Gothic touches abound; the Nugents are eccentrics, their home full of mysteries and reminders of better days. Daisy's new family includes Corisande, a spoiled beauty growing bitter as she approaches middle age without a suitor; her mild-mannered brother, Mickey, who silently puts up with all in exchange for solitude; a grandmother who may or may not be in a coma. All are residents of Dunmaine, the family's overgrown, undermanaged estate. Through Daisy's dogged questioning, Davis-Goff gets at the reasons and implications behind Ireland's WWII neutrality. Daisy's queries are answered mainly by Mickey: "As soon as there were two religions, it was all over for Ireland. Up until then the conquerors and colonists became enthusiastically Irish in about five minutes." These conversational, encyclopedic passages fill in blanks for readers who don't know their Irish history, but water down the already thin story. Davis-Goff is a talented writer, however, and there is much to appreciate here in the way of elegant prose and careful characterizations. 4-city author tour.(May)

Forecast:The Anglo-Irish world recently got an airing in the disappointing film version of Elizabeth Bowen's novel The Last September. The period and setting have undeniable appeal, and will help readers overlook the slow spots in Davis-Goff's otherwise well-crafted novel.

Reviewed on: 04/29/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 353 pages - 978-0-15-602738-0
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-547-97285-5
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