With her inimitable gift for describing the workings of the heart and mind, Edna O'Brien introduces us to a vivid new cast of restless, searching people who-whether in the Irish countryside or London or New York-remind us of our own humanity.
In Send My Roots Rain, Miss Gilhooley, a librarian, waits in the lobby of a posh Dublin hotel-expecting to meet a celebrated poet while reflecting on the great love who disappointed her. The Irish workers of "The Shovel Kings" have pipe dreams of becoming millionaires in London, but long for their quickly changing homeland-exiles in both places. "Green Georgette" is a searing anatomy of class, through the eyes of a little girl; "Old Wounds" illuminates the importance of family and memory in old age. In language that is always bold and vital, Edna O'Brien pays tribute to the universal forces that rule our lives.
O'Brien (The Light of Evening) mixes her trademark lyricism with a brutal depiction of lives marred by violence, whether a pining lover whose life has been upended or a dreamer whose fate leads him to a cold death in the wild. "Sinners" depicts one night in the life of a fusty innkeeper whose prudish disgust at a trio of guests is slowly revealed to have roots in her own loneliness. In "Black Flower" a former prison art teacher drives to the countryside with a newly released veteran of Ireland's freedom fights and a likely target for revenge. The narrator of "Plunder" is a young girl caught in a civil war who describes cowering in fear and her torments at the hands of the enemy. Another young girl narrates "Green Georgette" and endures the emotional hardship of class divisions, while in "Send My Roots Rain" a woman sits in a Dublin hotel lobby awaiting a reclusive poet and thinks back on love affairs and disappointments. And in "Manhattan Medley" a transplant to the big city begins an affair with a man and describes in rich prose how it has permeated her life. Throughout, tragedy mingles with beauty, yearning with survival, and destruction with moments of grace.