All Will Be Well: A Memoir

John McGahern, Author . Knopf $25 (289p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4496-2

Now in his early 70s, award-winning novelist McGahern grew up in rural Ireland, the oldest of seven children in a dysfunctional, devoutly religious family. He adored his schoolteacher mother, who died of breast cancer when he was nine, and he writes of her with awe and tenderness. The young McGahern set his sights on the priesthood, a dream tied up with his love of his mother: "We'll live together in an old presbytery close to the church, and when you die I'll say so many Masses for you that you'll hardly have to spend any time in purgatory." She was the opposite of his coldly calculating father, Frank, who was suspicious, secretive, miserly and fueled by a need to dominate everyone in his life. The kind of husband who prayed for his dying wife, but didn't sit by her bedside, and the kind of father who didn't attend his children's weddings, Frank was the obvious inspiration for the patriarch of McGahern's most famous work, Amongst Women. The writing is lyrically beautiful and rich in details of Ireland of the '40s and '50s. Yet the memoir is also hard to penetrate because of its digressions and the unfortunate editorial choice to run the text together without chapter breaks. (Feb. 13)

Reviewed on: 11/28/2005
Release date: 02/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 169 pages - 978-0-307-42470-9
Paperback - 289 pages - 978-1-4000-7986-5
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