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Annie Dunne [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Sebastian Barry
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 2002
Annie Dunne and her cousin Sarah live and work on a small farm in a remote and beautiful part of Wicklow in late 1950s Ireland. All about them the old green roads are being tarred, cars are being purchased, a way of life is about to disappear. Like two old rooks, they hold to their hill in Kelsha, cherishing everything. When Annie's nephew and his wife go to London to find work, their two small children, a little boy and his older sister, are brought down to spend the summer with their great-aunt.

It is a strange chance for happiness for Annie, but against that happiness moves the figure of Billy Kerr, with his ambiguous attentions to Sarah, threatening to drive Annie from her last niche of safety. Suddenly being surrounded by children also proves sometimes darkened and puzzling to her, and she struggles to find clear ground, clear light-to preserve her sense of love and place against these subtle forces of disquiet.

A summer of adventure, pain, delight, and ultimately epiphany unfolds for both the children and their elderly caretakers in this poignant and exquisitely told story of innocence, loss, and reconciliation.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Amazon

The central character in Sebastian Barry's novel Annie Dunne is a woman who has been pushed to the margins, a woman whom life has given few chances of happiness and fulfillment. Unmarried, she spends years as housekeeper for her brother-in-law because her sister is too ill to manage. Her sister dies, her brother-in-law remarries, and Annie Dunne is homeless. Invited by her cousin Sarah, she moves to a small farm in a remote part of Wicklow. As the novel opens, the two cousins share their lives and the work on the farm. It is the late 1950s and rural Ireland is changing around them. Annie's nephew heads for London in search of work and leaves his young children with their great-aunt. Content with her life with Sarah, Annie also finds a new capacity for love in her feelings for the two children. Yet even the small pleasures that Annie finds in her life are threatened. An unlikely suitor pays court to Sarah, and Annie's love for the children opens her up to pain almost as much as to happiness. Annie Dunne is a novel in which few external dramas occur--there is an accident with a pony and trap, one of the children goes temporarily missing--but Barry evokes superbly the inner dramas of his characters. In a society where emotions are often severely repressed and expressed only obliquely, small incidents hint at larger feelings and Barry has written a story in which these are subtly and poignantly unfolded. --Nick Rennison, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Irish playwright and novelist Barry's gift for image and metaphor (The Whereabouts of Aneas McNulty) are equaled here by his eye for descriptive detail. This moving story is narrated by the eponymous Annie Dunne, who, in her 60s, has come to live with her cousin Sarah on an impoverished farm in Kelsha, County Wicklow. Plain and poor, and afflicted with a humpback since a childhood attack of polio, Annie is grateful to Sarah for taking her in. She loves the farm and attacks the backbreaking daily chores with fierce ardor. But when a scheming handyman on a neighboring farm begins to court Sarah, Annie sees her livelihood threatened and fights back with the only weapons in her arsenal: bitterness and rage. Complicating the events of the summer spanned by the plot are the two young children left in Annie's care by her nephew, who's gone off to London. As Annie is terrified to admit, even to herself, the children have their own dark secret, too fearsome to contemplate. Veering between dread, anger and shame, Anne's thoughts are also a mixture of whimsical observations, na‹ve ideas and a poetic appreciation of the natural world. This compassionate portrait of a distraught woman mourning the years of promise and dreams that were "narrowed by the empty hand of possibility" is a masterful feat of characterization, all the more vivid against the backdrop of rural Ireland in the 1950s, undergoing changes that throw Annie's life into sharper focus.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Loving Inspite of the Pain Sept. 1 2013
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
One of Sebastian Barry's strengths as a modern author is that his main characters have the ability to express, in a noble fashion, feelings that come straight from the heart. These humble Irish folk have a heroic bent about them that allows them to rise above their obscurity and make an important difference in a rapidly changing world that could easily have marginalized them if they were not true to their core values. Annie Dunne is the heroine in this narrative because she refuses to let her lowly estate - the last of a line of Dunnes with nothing but a small farm in which to make a living - prevent her from caring for and loving others with all her heart as she was once loved herself. That does not mean she doesn't lead a fretful existence. While she and her cousin, Sarah, work hard to keep the farm and preserve the only life they know, there are forces afoot that threaten to snatch it away. She is tired, ageing, and protective of the relationships she has nurtured over the years. There is somebody out there who wants to marry the younger Sarah and take over the farm, which would certainly remove an important anchor in her life. Into their threatened lives one day comes two young children, the son and daughter of a cousin who has left to work in England. These two urban children will bring an extraordinary sense of liveliness and renewed purpose that will lift both women out of their funk. The pleasantries of a former life at Dublin Castle will be rekindled and, suddenly, Annie, in all her hardships, has something to live for. With no children of her own, she quickly takes on the motherly role of raising these boisterous children in the absence of their parents. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars MOVING AND CAPTIVATING Aug. 18 2003
Format:Paperback
Sebastian Barry's second novel gives the reader a look at life in rural Ireland in the late 1950s from 'ground level' - through the eyes of a woman in her early 60s who has returned from Dublin after middle age to live out her life on her cousin Sarah's farm. Annie and Sarah are spinsters - but while they wonder, and honestly lament, from time to time their lot in life, they are reasonably satisfied with their station. They live together in a small farmhouse with no electricity, no running water, no indoor plumbing. They are honest, good-hearted people - but not without their faults and quirks (which loom larger in their own eyes than in the eyes of others). One summer, Annie's nephew - who is in the process of relocating his family to London - drops off his son (4) and daughter (6) to stay with Annie and Sarah for the summer. The presence of the two children is both a joy and an awful responsibility to the two older women - and over the course of their stay, their addition to the household, along with other events, cause Annie to doubt the stability of her own future with Sarah.
Barry's characters are all very well-developed - each of them veritably leaps off the page into the mind of the reader. Told from Annie's perspective - and making the reader privy to her very thoughts - the story unfolds with many emotional and psychological, as well as social, aspects. The tale marches along at a leisurely pace, picking up steam (as it should) near the end. The language Barry employs is a gift - a rare glimpse (for those of us who have never been blessed to travel to Ireland) into the lives of these women and their neighbors.
This novel is a remarkable testament to the resilience of the human spirit, the ties of family and neighbors, and the healing power of even the simplest form of love and acceptance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Moments of Beauty Nov. 27 2002
Format:Hardcover
It is the summer of 1960 at Kelsha in rural Wicklow where Annie Dunne, an impoverished and proud spinster who has known better times, lives out her days on a farm owned by her cousin Sarah. Annie's nephew and his wife leave their young son and daughter in the care of the elderly Annie and Sarah while they are in London preparing for their family's eventual relocation there. Concurrently, Annie's already shaky sense of security is threatened, testing her mettle to its limits.
There are moments of beauty in this story, bolstered by the fulsomeness of Barry's writing. Barry justifies his prose: "If you listen carefully for how people are talking to you in Ireland, in certain districts, it is quite elaborate, there is a strangeness to it."
An interesting aside is that Annie Dunne was a real person: the author's father's aunt and, in his boyhood, his "favorite person on God's earth." And, like the boy in the story, Barry lived with her at Kelsha one summer in his youth.
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