"Grainne" by Keith Roberts is a wonderful glimpse at life's possibilities. Roberts is a master story teller. He has a way of creating alternate histories that bring the fundamental truths of the human condition direct to your brainpan.
The book opens with an old man lying in a hospital bed. A physician is asking him questions. Sometimes the patient answers, sometimes his alter-ego does the honors. The reader gets a slices of life from the patient's memories. Each of these is well-crafted with excellent detail selection, so that complex moods are created in as little as two sentences.
The reader learns of his childhood, his relationships with Mother and Father, his schooling, his pursuit of a career in the arts. Then he meets Grainne, an extraordinary Celtic woman who guides him to adulthood, inspires his career as an ad-man and author. I find it impossible to describe the marvelous insights you will find in this novel. I can only urge you to do so. "Grainne" is one of the major fictional works of the 20th-century.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Classic novel by British SF masterNov. 5 2000
- Published on Amazon.com
Gráinne Gráinne, quite simply, is unique; a moving and magical tour de force that ranks with Keith Robert's best works. Ostensibly, the novel charts the career of one Alistair Bevan, writer and adman, from his beginnings in a post-war Midland town. Here though any parallels with our world cease. Through Bevan's vivid memories we meet Gráinne; blue-stocking seductress, darling of the media. Painfully human yet mysterious as her great namesake, the girl-goddess doomed by her own proud nature who plunged all Ireland into war and shadow. But there's very much more. Gráinne proposes new and starling answers for the origins of the Celts themselves, answers that irrevocably link the fate of East and West; though the wide-ranging narrative wears its erudition lightly. We glimpse Oxford in the sixties, Ireland and Wessex, a London that has yet to be; through and between them, like the spirallings of Celtic thought itself, runs a strange graffito. How does it relate to the tenets of the Buddha, the heady eroticism of Hindu art? One by one the answers are made; by Gráinne, human and divite, a proto-myth for the new millennium.