Thursday, April 2, 2009

That They May Face the Rising Sun

That They May Face the Rising Sun by John McGahern was published in 2002 by Faber and Faber. In this novel, McGahern shows his wondrous talent for writing beautiful descriptions of the most ordinary circumstances and weaving great stories out of everyday occurences. He is outstanding at character development and the people you will meet in this novel will almost come alive.

A couple have partially dropped out of their working life in London and have bought an old house in Ireland. The man is originally from the area and his wife is English. The novel's depiction of them and their interactions with the locals is beautifully written and a delight to read.

This is the first book by John McGahern that I have read. Since I had picked it up at Dublin Airport before the long flight back to the US, I was especially glad that it turned out to be really good. Just look at the opening paragraph below. I was, and still am, awed by the beauty, by the poetry, of it.

Page 1
The morning was clear. There was no wind on the lake. There was also a great stillness. When the bells rang out for Mass, the strokes trembling on the water, they had the entire world to themselves.

Page 68
'What about Mary and Jamesie?'
'Mary's the best in the world,' his face brightened. There's none better than Mary. Jamesie would give you the shirt off his back. Once I was coming to borrow their mule. He had the mule tackled and was putting out topdressing. As soon as he saw me come he had the mule untackled in seconds. He declared before God that he was doing nothing with the mule. The mule was there for me to take.'

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