A WRITER'S WIT
My Book World
If readers want to ascertain the entire plot of this novel, they can consult Wikipedia; it’s otherwise too complex and contains too many spoilers. Danny Conroy, who happens to have graduated high school and college the same years I did, narrates this engrossing but compressed epic about him and his sister, Maeve (in my head I keep seeing the beautiful Maeve character created by Emma Mackey in Netflix’s Sex Education). The brother and sister experience a sort of orphanhood when first their biological mother leaves them as young children—to serve as a missionary in India.
They experience it again when their father dies and their truly wicked stepmother banishes them from their home, the Dutch House of Elkins Park, Philadelphia—the home built in 1920 and probably serving as the central character of the book. Both times, the siblings must serve as parents to each other because they simply have no one else (except for three kind servants who have no legal authority). This intimacy is both helpful and harmful to them: Maeve never marries, and Danny’s wife always feels she’s competing for Danny’s attention. Danny’s role as narrator is similar to the role that Nick Carraway takes in The Great Gatsby, except that Danny’s account is more or less reliable, marred perhaps only by depending on his childhood memories which, in many cases, are distorted by the hurt of abandonment. In all, the novel is a satisfying read, worthy of its nomination for a Pulitzer. It is one of those you could sit up all night reading and fall asleep in the morning quite satisfied, book clutched to your chest.
TUES: A Writer's Wit | Eleanor Roosevelt
WEDS: A Writer's Wit | Richard Price
THURS: A Writer's Wit | Lenny Bruce
FRI: My Book World | Barbara Wedgwood's The Demon Inside