Through the Green Valley

Barbara Gowdy, Author St. Martin's Press $0 (249p) ISBN 978-0-312-01805-4
Late 18th and early 19th century Ireland, when the Anglo-Irish landlord and the ``big house'' controlled the meanly lived existence of the local peasantry, is the backdrop for a vigorously told tale of betrayal and loss. Through the coming of age of young Michael Malone, son of a warm, loving, but wretchedly poor family, we see his early recognition that injustice must be borne in silence if the family is to survive. Thus, rapes of his sister and fiancee by the big lord and his son fuel Michael's activity in the subversive forays of the Fenian brotherhood. A disastrous campaign leaves him stranded and wounded on the Welsh coast, where a kind family hides and nurses him until he is ready for the traditional voyage of exile to America. As Michael experiences the conflicting lures of love and political idealism, the story shifts in time and place between his homeland and his Wales experience and, later, his time in France with a newly discovered sister. While Gowdy's first novel captures the authentic viewpoint of disenfranchised Irish peasants, these alternating segments are disorienting and often impede the flow of a complex and otherwise absorbing narrative. (August)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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