Straying

Molly McCloskey. Scribner, $24 (224p) ISBN 978-1-5011-7246-5
This slow-burning novel by McCloskey (When Light Is Like Water) is a moving meditation on rootlessness and love. Alice, a young American traveling alone in 1980s Ireland, is tending bar in a small town when she meets Eddie. In short order, they fall in love, get married, and buy a house, and soon their relationship begins to falter. When Alice meets a writer who, in his recklessness and self-consciousness, seems like Eddie’s opposite, she begins an affair. When Eddie finds out and leaves her, and the writer dumps her, Alice no longer feels welcome among her neighbors and leaves Ireland. Years later, after working for international NGOs in Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Kenya, and Somalia, Alice learns that her mother has died and, instead of returning to the States and the home she left long ago, she returns to Dublin. The narrative is split between the two time periods, with both Alice’s memories and her present-day actions tinged by bittersweet nostalgia, as she tries to understand how some loves diminish and what makes a place home. McCloskey is a keen, sympathetic observer; her tight, controlled prose meticulously details Alice’s honest consideration of her flaws and desires. The melancholic complexity of Alice’s very human struggle carries this elegant novel with no easy answers. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/11/2017
Release date: 02/20/2018
Downloadable Audio - 224 pages - 978-1-5082-5429-4
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-5011-7247-2
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