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Annie Dunne [Paperback]

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

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Book Description

July 30 2003
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, --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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Annie Dunne Oct. 1 2002
This is one of the most beautifully written books that I have read in a long time. If you are interested in the heart of the Irish people you will love this book. It has made me want to read everything this author has written. The lovely cover of the book with the little Irish girl is almost worth the price of the book itself.
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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
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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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A trip to Ireland Aug. 22 2002
ANNIE DUNNE by Sebastian Barry
ANNIE DUNNE by Sebastian Barry is a book about an elderly woman and her observations on her life, past, present and future. The actual story takes place during one summer in the 1950's in a rural area of Ireland called Wicklow. However, through the ramblings in her mind, the reader is taken back to her past, where she goes over memories of her dear father, whom she has on a pedestal.
Her grand niece and nephew have come to stay for the summer, and so Annie and her cousin Sarah must deal with a big change. Taking care of children isn't easy, especially for two elderly spinster ladies such as Annie and Sarah. However, the children take to Annie as it was meant to be, while Sarah hovers in the background and watches.
It is Sarah's home that Annie lives in, so Annie helps out with the daily chores that need to be done in a rural area like this. Daily chores include retrieving eggs from the hen house and hand-washing of clothes. Making butter and bread is all done by hand. (To Annie's disgust, people in the city buy their bread and butter pre-made!) Their life is a simple one, far from the modern contrivances of the day.
Annie considers herself a lucky woman for having a home despite being a spinster and having a hump on her back. She was never considered marraige material and has lived with family members from year to year. Sarah took Annie into her home after Annie's sister Maud had passed away and her widow decided to remarry. Now, the threat of moving on is back. It appears that Sarah is being courted by a neighbor, Billy Kerr, who Annie thinks is at least 20 years Sarah's junior. This whole idea has Annie worked up and more flustered than usual.
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