Annabel Davis-Goff, Author . Harcourt $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-15-101020-2

A pivotal few years in Irish history—1912–1916—as seen through the eyes of a sensitive 10-year-old girl, whose immediate focus is her own sense of abandonment by her parents, is the piercingly affecting theme of Davis-Goff's new novel. As in her previous books (The Dower House; This Cold Country), Davis-Goff brilliantly chronicles the vanished world of the Anglo-Irish gentry. Left behind at her grandmother's country estate when her parents return to Dublin, Alice Moore at first chafes with desperate loneliness, bewilderment and misery at the strict rules of behavior in force at Ballydavid, the result of her aristocratic grandmother's preoccupation with the unbending social code of the Ascendancy. Gradually, she comes to love Ballydavid, while becoming aware of the events that signal the approaching end of its privileged status. Her uncle is killed during WWI, and the family's mourning seems endless. Rebellion is brewing in Ireland, the Easter Rising occurs and Sir Roger Casement, a Protestant considered a traitor to his class, will be martyred. With deft assurance, Davis-Goff conveys the complex social order of the Anglo-Irish hierarchy, in which class, religion and political thought, heretofore complacently stratified, are undergoing vital challenges. As she traces Alice's growing maturation, the narrative's elegiac tone and graceful prose do much to overcome the necessarily factual interpolations of historical events. (Sept.)

Forecast:Davis-Goff's previous novels earned excellent reviews. Her audience should increase with this book, particularly because it has a good hook for talk shows—much of the background is taken from an unfinished memoir by the author's mother.

Reviewed on: 08/25/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0645-7
Paperback - 319 pages - 978-0-15-603010-6
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-547-97286-2
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