Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Book Review: 'One Year' by Mary McDonough


One Year sets emotions skittering about in all directions.
A family, of intelligent, industrious people ruled by an unbending matriarch in a small town with lots of history, lures the reader. I found myself reading just one more chapter then just one more and on and on, as I empathized with the characters, even the ones I wanted to “tell a few home truths to.”
Mary Bernadette Fitzgibbon, now past seventy, lives in a time warp and seems to have walled off her heart. Her stern, uncompromising influence on her family and the town of Oliver’s Well, where she heads up the Oliver’s Well Historical Association, permeates the story. Her husband Paddy, while not often seen, has a unique strength to be admired.
P. J., Mary Bernadette’s grandson, and his new wife Alexis live in the cottage near the grandparents and P. J. runs the family business. This young couple’s relationship hits some scary spots as they learn how to deal with the domineering matriarch. How I wanted to give that young man a good talking-to about the wedding vow he made in the church.
Grace and Pat, the children of Mary Bernadette and Paddy, deal with their mother in different styles, but each of them is woven into the story in a way that makes them seems so like living, breathing humans who struggle mightily to stay connected to family.
Megan, Pat’s wife, is different. Her quiet, never-give-up strength is like a golden thread running through the story. She relies on “make me an instrument of peace” to find her center when the going gets rough, but she made me laugh once at a stressful time, when she said to herself “I’m going to kill her if she dies.” Her courage inspires.
The Seven Deadly Sins rear their ugly heads and get stomped down from time to time, while Wynston Meadows, a wealth newcomer to Oliver’s Well, proves to be a lot harder to stomp. How he is dealt with creates more than a little anxiety.
William, whom I’ll let you find out about, is like the elephant-in-the-room throughout the unfolding of the story, probably a lesson to be learned here.
Mary McDonough creates a memorable story that is written in a charming style that keeps the reader in the middle of the action.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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