Lyrical and poetic (would you expect anything less from a Canadian poetess?), this novel is lush with prose and story, chronicling the personal, invward journey of a woman who moves _closer_ to who she is, not away. However, she does pull from those around her in order to do this and involves many other characters in her life who are touched by her "absence." If you enjoy the rich prose in "The Shipping News," give this one a try.
I learned about this novel when reading a book of interviews of Canadian writers of historical fiction, and chose this one to read by Jane Urquhart because it was regarded as having lyrical prose and a compelling story. Indeed it is. The first few chapters are so beautifully written I read them a few times; the remainder of the novel is definitely absorbing but not as brilliant in its use of language, and certainly not as "magical" in its story.
From Library Journal's review: Like a heartbreakingly romantic ballad of hard times, unrequited love, and lamentation, Urquhart's third novel is an entrancing saga of a family who must leave Ireland for Canada during the potato famine of the 1840s. As a young girl in Ireland, Mary is taken "away" to the faeries after a young sailor whom she rescued dies in her arms. Although she does eventually marry and start a new life in the Canadian wilderness, Mary still hears the call of her sailor and finally leaves her family to live the rest of her life alone by a lake. Her daughter Eileen, in turn, falls in love with an Irish nationalist whose passion is only for his cause... Urquhart beguiles the reader with a cast of lovable eccentric characters in a wonderfully surreal world.... An extraordinary achievement.
A beautifully written book, much of which is very poetic/lyrical and mythical although the story changes as it moves to another generation and has more of a political tone, while continuing the same saga with the similar swept away theme. I found that reading about the Irish Potato Famine and the Fenians at wikipedia.org and D'Arcy McKee helped me understand the Irish and Canadian history which is a backdrop of the book. I highly recommend it - it's one of the best written novels I've read in years.
Loved this book - magical realism and a great look at Irish history.
(this is a paperback)- a great romantic tale, rich in imagery and with language worthy of Emily Bronte and Thomas Hardy. An engrossing multigenerational tale that celebrates the talismanic power of memory.
A stunning, evocative and well researched novel set in Ireland and Canada, AWAY traces a family's complex and layered past. The narrative unfolds with shimmering clarity, and takes us from the harsh northern Irish coast in the 1840s to the quarantine stations at Grosse Isle and the barely hospitable land of the Canadian Shield; from the flourishing town of Port Hope to the flooded streets of Montreal; from Ottawa at the time of Confederation to a large-windowed house at the edge of a Great Lake during the present day.
Graceful and moving, AWAY unites the personal and the political as it explores the most private, often darkest corners of our emotions where the things that root us to ourselves endure. Powerful, intricate and lyrical, AWAY is truly an unforgettable novel.