Suzanne Power, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-312-31383-8

Power's debut novel about an impoverished Irish family includes all the usual cast members—the alcoholic, brutish husband; the unloved and unloving wife; the pregnant teenage daughter—but her writing has such force and clarity that the story is gripping. On the unyielding sea coast of Ireland, Joseph Moriarty spends his life trying to farm a small patch of inhospitable soil. He takes out his frustration in drink and mercilessly beats his wife, Noreen. It's all Noreen can do to protect her daughter, Carmel, from her husband's rage. Carmel, who lives an almost animal existence outdoors trying to evade her father, winds up pregnant by local boy Eddie Green, who, though sweet and protective, isn't brave enough to be seen in public with "the slow Moriarty girl." Noreen scrapes together enough money to send Carmel to London, but without any resources she ends up a Soho prostitute. She miscarries, gets pregnant again by her pimp and gives birth to a daughter named Sive, who is raised mostly by an older prostitute. Sive eventually takes her sick, aging mother back home to Ireland, where she comes to grips with the bitter history of the Moriarty house. It's Sive who narrates the tale of these three generations. Her dramatic tone and habit of apostrophizing her late relatives won't be to everyone's taste ("You were a fine, strong woman, Noreen, with a ready laugh! But you enjoyed life too much, that's what they said"), but Power ably handles the searing material; it is, alas, always believable. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/30/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-330-48949-2
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4668-7259-2
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