Amongst Women

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To bring these women together to serve others in the local community. I knew that I wanted in. I went to the first meeting, alone. It was held in the party room of an Italian place, near my house. The other women I had met with Jodi welcomed me with open arms. They hugged me and said they were thrilled to see me again. They were all hustling and bustling and getting ready for a presenter. Remember, I was in this mostly for the friends. And the snacks.

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I sat with a few women that I knew from the neighborhood. We sat and talked and laughed and had a glass of wine or two. And then, the presentations started. Jodi was there, with a mic in hand, introducing Women and explaining who they are and what their mission was. And then; it clicked. We were all there to give. It was NOT a cult. She explained that women was part of a much bigger thing. It was collective giving.

We listened to the three charities speak about their passion. A room filled with strangers, as they asked for help. They spent time explaining how their charities could benefit from ten thousand dollars. It was incredible. The passion these people had for the charities they were representing. I had a tear in my eye at the end of the first presentation. I think I sobbed during the last one. These all hit so close to home. They were literally all charities in my area. In Cypress. Around the corner from where I lived! When they were told they won, they sobbed harder than I did.

It was such an incredible experience! His next novel, The Dark , was widely praised and drew comparisons to James Joyce, but it also offended the Archbishop of Dublin and the state censor, who banned the book and revoked his teaching position. McGahern refused to capitalize on his notoriety, instead continuing to publish quietly. His most recent novel is By the Lake During his writing career, he has served as a visiting professor at Colgate University and the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and he was writer-in-residence at Trinity College, Dublin, in He lives with his wife, Madeline Green, in Leitrim, Ireland.

Brian Friel, Dancing at Lughnasa In this highly acclaimed play, five Irish sisters search for their individual identities, both within their common bonds and, when necessary, beyond the protective arms of family. Share: Share on Facebook. Add to Cart. What does Monaghan Day mean for Moran?

For his daughters? What ends the friendship between Moran and McQuaid? Why is Rose so eager to marry a man whom the rest of the town has suspicions about? What keeps Michael from running away from home permanently like his brother Luke? I only say underrated McGahern has won several noteworthy prizes just because I hadn't heard of him and didn't think he'd gotten the recognition he deserves this side of the pond.

The writing is beautiful- humane, poised, distant, appraising, tender, complexly simple, Chekovian, minutely realized, lucid, almost translucent in its knowingness, and the characters are drawn as near to life as you can get.

They have inwardness- McGahern shows, he doesn't tell, and you see them as Really top notch. They have inwardness- McGahern shows, he doesn't tell, and you see them as they fluctuate amid each other. The title is from the rosary, of course, but its also the quietly frustrated, occasionally bitter and abusive state of affairs of Moran, the main character. Moran is a widower but he is also an ex-IRA solider, a fine and intelligent one at that, whose war is over in everywhere but the arena of his bitterness. He's surrounded by women- his three daughters, the middle aged Rose who, undaunted by his gruff, irascible, brittle broodingness, forthrightly agrees to marry him.

Indeed, Moran would be the last one to admit it, but she does him the favor of his life by not only making the first move but consistently and selflessly devoting herself to the attention, friendship, and responsibility of Moran's only castle- Great Meadow, his proud and distinctly distant home, and his family where he is equally loathed and respected. It's so true to life. How many times has a friendly, wise, personable woman decided to align herself with a man who is anything but?

McGahern captures this real-life paradox with knowing distance she's a pushover, more times than she should be and gentleness she knows there's a better man deep inside Moran, if she could only cull him from Moran's piety, repressed self-hatred, and murky piety. There are two sons, Luke and Michael, who each have warred with the man figuratively and metaphorically and found some struggle of tenuous peace.

Peace, I should add, which does NOT come dropping slow What started to really take over for me, as a reader, and maintained its pull was how I read this novel with that sort of hazy clarity which reminds you of moments in your own life which you'd forgotten or repressed for one reason or another. I hate to quote a book blurb, but I really do have to hand it to John Updike's luminous praise, given as the chair of an award panel: "McGahern brings us the tonic gift of the best fiction, the sense of truth- the sense of a transparency that permits us to see imaginary lives more clearly than we see our own.

Be it the den, the tool shed, the bar, the garden, the tv room, whatever- they do not run away so much as stomp around inside themselves, mending or fixing or sitting somewhere alone and staring off into space. Moran tends to the fields- it's his cave, it's where he goes to puzzle things out, let off steam.

It's of course the once place where he doesn't violate the privacy of others, which is his curse, but it's also where he takes people in. It reminded me of my grandfather, a stoic, pleasant, repressed, uneducated first-generation Swede who never said much of anything by way of conversation and was maddeningly trite when he did.

I think I literally had 2 or 3 5 minute plus conversations with him about anything, and I tried, as did my mother and siblings, in the thirty years I knew him. Not a bad man, or a hard one, as Moran certainly is, but inscrutably One day we were standing on the carpet next to the tv when he said, apropos of nothing, "want to look at my tools"?

Uh, sure, let's go. We walked down into the cool, dry, mostly empty basement. He opened the door to his 'shop', pausing to nod at the newspaper clipping taped to the door of soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima.

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He wasn't, I have on good authority We stood there as he pointed out his plastic shelves of tiny screws, different lengths of nails, and so on. He showed me his saws, hammers, screwdrivers, one by one. He explained how long they were and how one fit with its proper tool. I didn't say anything- I didn't have anything to say. He turned at one point and said it was his favorite place. That's it. We walked upstairs and that's all I remember. Moran hides in his fields, in his solitude, because the country he fought for is taken over by "small minded gangsters", he refuses his government pension, he barks insults at the daughters whose futures he is frightened of and mistrusts.

His constant insistence on praying the rosary is equally as intense as his "who cares, anyway" remark, which he makes on matters relating directly to him and to those around him. He's caught between an indifference he feels politically from the country he was proud of fighting for and has now somehow gone past him and the proud, sullen self-sufficiency he has spent a lifetime accumulating.

He has the insecurity about appearances which equally, indelibly marks the intensely private and the deeply embarrassed not the same thing. I don't know as much about 20th Century Irish politics as I ought to, but the point has been made to De Valerain Home Rule enclosure, rural insularity, fetishization of old fashioned home and hearth. It does seem interesting, going through the novels which came before, how true it indeed is that the best and brightest seem to feel it existentially necessary to get the hell out of the emerald isle.

Exile is a literary theme and, often enough, political necessity! I wonder- is Mother Ireland old sow, farrow-devouring a microcosm? Or a symptom? Jul 15, Kathrina rated it liked it Shelves: irish , nyrb-intro-authors. A short book, but claustrophobic in its persistent domestic dysfunction, its unrelentingly dissatisfied central character, its unsympathetic disdain for chapter breaks. Irish Catholic patriarchs are a breed apart, but a specific breed nonetheless -- my childhood best friend's father was the living manifestation of Moran, at sea in a household of mostly women, who turned to him for direction and a sense of purpose, needing him to feel necessary and connected while at the same time resenting it.

M A short book, but claustrophobic in its persistent domestic dysfunction, its unrelentingly dissatisfied central character, its unsympathetic disdain for chapter breaks. Moran's repeated refrain, that all of his children are equal, no one better or more accomplished than another, is both evenly democratic and coldly isolating. A belief that one's family defines one's station, but no one can rise above their station, is both a relief and an obstacle.

One makes room for it, as most of Moran's family does, or denies it outright, like Luke, but there is no compromise.

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I can see why McGahern was selected to write the forward for NYRB's edition of Stoner , even though McGahern is distinctly Irish and Williams is distinctly American, the writing in both is patient, lyrical, and meditative. A life is illustrated over decades, and no one great thing happens, but many small things, that add up to the influence of a man whose small circle has felt him deeply.

View all 3 comments. Oct 16, Dem rated it really liked it. McGahern writes a quiet sort of novel and yet he address a number of important themes. Moran is an old Republican whose life was forever transformed by his days of glory as a guerrilla leader in the War of Independence. Now in old age, living out in the country, Moran is still fighting but this time with his family, his friends and even himself. I loved how McGahern hints at more than his narrative tells in the story and you are left filling in the gaps. This is a character driven novel and the plot takes a back seat.

The characters are so well depicted in this novel and especially that of Moran. A man who thinks the whole world is out to get him, who rarely shows emotion, who loves his family to the point of losing them and who must also be tiptoed around, his moods must always be weighed up and he must never be challenged for fear of upsetting him.

I really got drawn into this novel and its characters. Dec 15, Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing. Many of the men who had actually fought got nothing. An early grave or the emigrant ship. Sometimes I get sick when I see what I fought for. Feb 15, Marie rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: All. Powerful Irish novel on family and country. Couldn't put it down. My Irish Literature tutor at Trinity College a. While I enjoyed McGahern's simple, unflashy prose, I'm inclined to agree. The story covers the same ground again and again, and while the monotony of Moran's life may be part of the point, it doesn't make for the most enjoyable read.

Difficult book in some ways to rate. On one hand the father of this bleak and claustrophobic Irish novel was a hypocrite. You're supposed to want what's best for your children, to hope that they'll be happy and content, that their needs both emotional and physical are met. Didn't appreciate the pivotal character of Michael Moran, he was too damaged to be able to meet any needs but his own. One aspect of Moran that I could readily empathise with was his love of the land. This is more of a characte Difficult book in some ways to rate.

This is more of a character study of a dysfunctional family. Loved the setting of rural Ireland and the times depicted, found the delivery to be lyrical in parts. And here is another hitherto unknown to me to add to the list: John McGahern. McGahern died in , having produced 6 novels and 4 short story collections. On the evidence of this gem of a book, it is a great shame that he did not write more.

Amongst Women is an excellent novel. It is a sort of Tennessee Williams play, transported to rural Ireland of the s. The story opens with his imminent demise. Then in a series of flashback narratives without any chapter headings or structure of that sort , the novel tells the story of this controlling, sometimes violent but always family-oriented man and of his relationship with his second wife, Rose, and with his three daughters and two sons. Moran can be both verbally and physically abusive.

There is one chilling scene in which his teenage son Michael runs away rather than experience the corporal punishment that his father is about to hand out to him for missing school to spend time with his girlfriend. The story ends with Moran's death. Amongst Women is a quiet, unostentatious novel that addresses a number of important themes. These include: the power struggle between parents and children as the latter grow older and become adults themselves; family loyalties; and the role of women in society generally and, in particular, in the family structure.

It is written in beautifully clear prose. The characterisation and sense of time and place are spot on. And it is a story in which the reader cares about all the characters - including the often angry, unpredictable but strangely likeable Moran. This brilliant novel is well worth reading - as, I imagine, on this evidence, is the rest of McGahern's small oeuvre.

This is a wonderfully written account of a family that lives a brittle, tense existence due to a father who feels marginalised, bitter, an outsider. The way his unpredictable moodiness which seems almost bi-polar infects the house, stressing the women his wife, daughters and breaking his relationships with his sons, treads the same ground that John McGahern 's The Dark did with such aplomb- in fact I think The Dark is a better book, although there is very little in it. I particularly liked the This is a wonderfully written account of a family that lives a brittle, tense existence due to a father who feels marginalised, bitter, an outsider.

I particularly liked the way the author dealt with the idea of separateness- the fact that Moran keeps himself apart from the rest of the village and expects his new wife and kids to do the same- and togetherness- Moran believes his family is an extension of himself. This was, essentially, the way I was brought up, so it was quite emotional reading the story.

Yes, there are issues of power-play; of unaware, out-of-control ego on display, but there is also the sad depiction of an outsider, a man who never allows himself a long stretch of happiness because he feels the echo of the working-class fear of the workhouse. He insists on the solidarity of the family but it is on his own terms and, as such, will only lead to all his children getting as faraway from him as they can. A devastating portrait of a family and eminently readable. I read this as part of The Mookse and the Gripes visit to the Booker shortlist from Amongst Women is a carefully drawn study of local community and an insular family the Morans.

There's lots to applaud, and my only reservation is that I don't feel that McGovern brings any deeper or original insight to the realities and dynamics of close knit family life than the great D. Lawrence did in many of his classic works some seventy years before. There are some memorable descriptions of Michael M I read this as part of The Mookse and the Gripes visit to the Booker shortlist from Irish lore is endlessly fascinating, and its no surprise that so many great writers and poets come from Ireland, and continue to do so.

A great read for those looking for a considered appreciation of Ireland and the Irish. The claustrophobia and screwed up family dynamics of this are seriously hard to take, but in a good way. Aug 23, Eric rated it really liked it. Many significant Irish novels published during the 80s and 90s I think, in particular, of Colm Toibin's wonderful The Heather Blazing seem to feature characters and plots that struggle to reconcile the revolutionary ideals of the early twentieth century with the soullessness and disenchantments of some aspects of the new state that finally came into being.

Although rarely likable, Moran is nevertheless Many significant Irish novels published during the 80s and 90s I think, in particular, of Colm Toibin's wonderful The Heather Blazing seem to feature characters and plots that struggle to reconcile the revolutionary ideals of the early twentieth century with the soullessness and disenchantments of some aspects of the new state that finally came into being.

Although rarely likable, Moran is nevertheless a complex figure whose domineering nature and nearly abusive parenting at least on an emotional level are occasionally leavened by his honest fidelity to the idea of family, his sheepish attempts to retreat from and modestly compensate for his moments of transgression, and his subjection to the broader historical forces that have stunted the second half of his life.

It's a short and distilled novel, and McGahern admirably suggests more than he tells with his narrative, leaving levels of mystery behind what seems to be a simple character study. The real heroes here, though, are the women -- Rose, Sheila, Maggie, Mona -- who are buffeted but never bowed by Moran's storms. Jan 17, Dylan rated it it was amazing. A narratively straightforward story about family and understanding guided by emotion. I don't think so. What I like about this book is that I'm able to think back to moments within and fail to see any relevancy toward a specific arched plot.

It is much like one would look back on their own life and just see events for what they were: experiences that just happened and solidified who you were, are, and will be into the future. The tragedy, if there is one, is that life moves on and the si A narratively straightforward story about family and understanding guided by emotion. The tragedy, if there is one, is that life moves on and the simple, flawed, normal things we hold dear, often times without knowing it, eventually fade away in their own ways.

Not much amazing or intriguing here. But it is that simplicity that I, as a reader, found beauty and compassion in. This was the last book I was supposed to read for a class on British and Irish novels, and I can see why. It has a culminating feeling, one where you're left with not much to talk about other than to say, "Well, this is it. Shelves: bookcrossing. The book is well written but a little boring.

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  • Not too much happens and what does happen is fairly repetitive. Probably close to real life. At times Moran was hard to like. He was definitely head of the house. To his credit they did keep coming back. The blurb on the back of the book about being a guerrilla leader and coming to terms with the past is a bit of a red herring. It is barely mentioned. I hate it when the synopsis on the The book is well written but a little boring. I hate it when the synopsis on the cover doesn't portray the book accurately.

    One other thing that was odd about this book was the lack of time line. You rarely knew how much time had passed between events. It could be months or years. It was never explained. Jul 01, Kusaimamekirai rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction-ireland. She was quite taken with McGahern's prose and reading this for myself, I can certainly see why.

    This is the story of Michael Moran, a former Republican army partisan long since removed to his outpost at home with his new bride, son, and 3 daughters. To say things Moran is a difficult character is an understatement. He is a bitter, petty, tyrant who rules his house with an iron fist. So much so that his oldest son has long since left home for England. He is a man who outwardly professes to care for his children but cannot allow or give his blessing for them to take a path in life that goes against what he believes to be correct.

    To watch his children acquiesce tot he wishes of this bitter man is heartbreaking. Furthermore, the feeling of claustrophobia in this family's dynamic is palpable as Moran, and the reader rarely ventures outside this home.

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    There, family is everything and even the largest transgression can be forgiven so long as the family unit is preserved. We see this particularly in a scene where a harvest of wheat must be cultivates before the rains set in. When this is completed, Moran comments that it couldn't have been done alone but as a unit, nothing is impossible. This is a theme we see time and again.