This is a beautiful book about relationships between people, the loss of and the finding of links through words and books and the shared love of reading that can define and redefine family.
I love the writing style of Williams; clean and evocative and always lyrical you can hear the lilt and tone of the Irish tongue (of not just Williams but also of his main character; Ruthie, a bedridden young woman in search of not just herself but her father and her place in family and the larger community of her village.) How Ruthie does this is through the enormous and varied collection of books that her father has left her.
— Maeve Noonan
Bedbound in her attic room beneath the falling rain, in the margin between this world and the next, Plain Ruth Swain is in search of her father, Virgil. To find him, enfolded in the mystery of ancestors, Ruthie must first trace the jutting jaw lines, narrow faces, and gleamy skin of the Swains from the restless Reverend Swain, her great-grandfather, to her grandfather Abraham, and finally to Virgil, through wild, rain-sodden history, exploits in pole-vaulting and salmon-fishing, poetry, and the 3,958 books piled high beneath the skylights in her room. Her funny, meandering narrative sings, moves, and irrevocably inspires.
About the Author
Niall Williams was born in Dublin. His work includes stage plays, screenplays, nonfiction (co-written with this wife, Christine Breen), and, to date, seven novels. His first, Four Letters of Love, was an international bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Williams has twice been longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and, with this book, has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He lives in the west of Ireland.
"You can smell the peat burning and feel the ever-present mist in acclaimed Irish novelist Williams’ luscious paean to all who lose themselves in books. Williams captures the awe and all of Ireland—its myths and mysteries, miseries and magic—through the pitch-perfect voice of a saucily defiant young woman who has witnessed too much tragedy but who clings devotedly to those she’s lost." - Booklist, starred review