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Paperback At Weddings and Wakes Book

ISBN: 0385319851

ISBN13: 9780385319850

At Weddings and Wakes

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Twice a week, Lucy Dailey leaves suburbia with her three children in tow, returning to the Brooklyn home where she grew up and where her stepmother and unmarried sisters still live. Aunt Veronica, with her wounded face and dreams of beauty, drowns her sorrowsin drink. Aunt Agnes, an acerbic student of elegance, sips only from the finest crystalas she sees Aunt May, the ex-nun, blossom with a late and unexpected love.And all the while, the children...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Not my favorite

Honestly, no. I found it a tedious read and put it aside. Something I very rarely do. Perhaps someday, if I'm desperate for something to read I'll pick it up again. Of course, someone else may pick it up and fall in love with it.

Like Monet

More like a Monet than a photograph, McDermott's, "At Weddings and Wakes" reveals its beauty by memory impressions rather than by the harsh black lines of plot. No less lost than others who have written here in the ebb and flow of the timeline, I, however, trusted the author. And soon I was intermixing with the memories of the book my own childhood memories - and identifying, in the moment, with the joys and tragedies of this family. I dare suggest any who read this book, liking it or not, will find themselves remembering family stories of times past - memories happy and sad, with characters tragic and heroic and possibly rethinking them in the light of McDermott's graceful treatment of such moments. It was an exquiste read. That is, for those who are comfortable with impressions leading you to see clearly the beauty in life's tragedies and joys, as like a Monet painting. But if you need/seek/want the clarity of a photograph for beauty - skip this book.

Proust in the Suburbs

Reading At Weddings and Wakes is like sharing a dream. Events are described with a crystalline clarity and tone perfect attention to detail, allowing us to be swept into the experience without knowing a lot of history of the characters.Even the names of the people appear only incidentally later in the book. The book unfolds slowly and almost cinematically as three children accompany their mother on a trip to Brooklyn to visit their grandmother and aunts. The pacing of the book is languid and deliberate. Characters appear and disappear, we hear snatches of conversations and recollections of past events. I love McDermott's language and though I am a fast reader, she forces me to slow down because each word is important. I am in absolute awe of her ability to tell a story, without resorting to conventional plot devices. I was so totally engaged with the characters and the situation, perhaps because it so closely mirrored my own experience growing up in an Irish Catholic family. Yet I believe the book transends the particulars of place as it addresses the central issues of life: joy and tragedy, our inability to let go of the past and our need to enjoy the moment. Through the eyes of the children we understand how events become experience, as they observe adults who seem mired in their histories, unable to find joy in the moment and move forward.The love the children share with their favorite aunt,May, the only adult, apart from their father who is actively seeking happiness and finding joy, is palpable. It is so finely rendered that it brought back in a piercingly acute way, my own feelings for beloved and now departed family members. Other reader reviews makes it clear this isn't a book for everyone, but I will never forget it.

Worth reading several times

Beautifully written and highly evocative, the story stays with you like a childhood memory. The depiction of the father through the children's eyes is marvelous. This is one of my favorite books.

A brilliant evocation of memory.

The quality of memory is brilliantly conveyed in this novel: the details, the dreaminess, the layers of knowing - knowing what you knew as a child and what you learned later and what happened after that. The book is a quantity of detail that never becomes claustrophobic. In the opening pages, we have a minute description of the mother, her three children, and their bus ride from Long Island to the city to visit relatives. Without boring the reader, McDermott renders exquisitely how excrutiatingly boring such visits can be for children, who don't understand exactly what's going on among the adults but understand perfectly the tension. Out of this wealth of detail emerges the story of a family, and though thoroughly Irish and Catholic, these are characters recognizable in any family - the beautiful, disappointed one, the one determined to be happy, the adored alcoholic, the smart, embittered one. We see the way family stories take on a life of their own and family problems are more like the air one breathes than explicitly defined events and situations that can be rationally addressed. "Aren't you glad that you only have to see your relatives at weddings and wakes?" says a teenager to her younger cousins. They all agree, but the reader knows the truth - each one of them is a unique product of their common family, as is each one of us.

A fascinating read from a master storyteller

In "At Weddings and Wakes," Alice McDermott brilliantly brings to life a tragically flawed Irish Catholic family from Brooklyn. Told through the eyes of the three children, each character in this deeply moving piece resonants with their own indivduality. By jumping between different time periods, McDermott entices the reader to follow without ever giving up the suspense. I could not put this book down. But as much as I wanted to see what happened, I didn't want it to end. Alice McDermott is, quite simply, a master storyteller.
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