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Charming Billy: A Novel by Alice McDermott

Charming Billy: A Novel (original 1998; edition 2009)

by Alice McDermott

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2,008385,181 (3.43)86
Everyone loved him. If you knew Billy at all, then you loved him. The late Billy Lynch's family and friends, a party of forty-seven, gather at a small bar and grill somewhere in the Bronx to remember better times in good company, and to redeem the pleasure of a drink or two from the miserable thing that a drink had become in Billy's life. His widow, Maeve, is there and everyone admires the way she is holding up, just as they always admired the way she cared for Billy after the alcohol had ruined him. But one cannot think of Billy Lynch's life, one's own relentless affection for him, without saying at some point, "There was that girl. The Irish girl." And one can't help but think that the real story of his life lay there.… (more)
Title:Charming Billy: A Novel
Authors:Alice McDermott
Info:Picador (2009), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Charming Billy by Alice McDermott (1998)

  1. 00
    Ask Again, Yes: A Novel by Mary Beth Keane (Othemts)
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    My Mamas Waltz: A Book for Daughters of Alchoholic Mothers by Eleanor Agnew (cammykitty)
    cammykitty: Non-fiction, but yes that painful realm - loving someone who is slowly disappearing before your eyes
  3. 11
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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
The story of an extended family centered around the funeral of charming Billy, an alcoholic obsessed with his lost early love. About the disappointments of life, memories, redemption, and love. ( )
  snash | Aug 17, 2018 |
Framed by the narrative of the family funereal gathering for the late Billy Lynch, the novel recounts Billy's life, his early lost love, his struggle with alcohol, his never-lost charm. We're also given the lives of other members of the family and their close, everyday relationships, especially how Billy's live - and death - have influenced them. The real charmer here is the story itself, and the lovely way it is told, through the sweetness of its quotidian details, the mundane made holy, in some way. So excellently written, this one. Definitely recommended. ( )
  scaifea | Jul 25, 2018 |
Billy Lynch was a charmer and an alcoholic. He was a part of a very tightly knit Irish American family and extended family. When he was young, he and his council, Dennis, met two girls from Ireland who were working as nannies for a wealthy family on Long Island. Billy fell madly in love with Eva; Dennis dated Mary, the sister. Eva had to return to her family in Ireland and Billy, determined to marry her, sent money and letters to her constantly. She never returned. Mary told Dennis that Eva had taken the money and married another in Ireland. Dennis, hating to hurt his friend, told him that Eva had died. Billy grieved, but life went on.

Dennis went on to marry another but the two cousins remained as brothers. Dennis had a family and Billy went on to marry Maeve, the only daughter of a widowed alcoholic. Billy also turned to drink and Maeve quietly took care of both father and husband.

The book opens with the scene after Billy's funeral. He was found in the street drunk. The family reminisces and the truth is told. No one is ever sure if Maeve knows about the "Irish girl" or not.

Not a lot really happens in the book as it is more of a character study than plot although the lie Dennis tells colors the rest of Billy's life. It's a story of family loyalty, past memories, and sadness while always "carrying on." Maeve seems to me to be just another one of those Irish women whose life is dominated by family and events beyond their control.

(At the last paragraph, Maeve winds up marrying Dennis). ( )
  maryreinert | Oct 6, 2017 |
Tremendously crafted and compelling. ( )
  jconnell | Feb 8, 2017 |
O cómo construir tu vida a base de recuerdos, esperanzas auto engañosas y familia/amigos. Intentamos reconstruirnos partiendo de nuestros recuerdos de lo que queríamos ser, aunque la vida nos ponga trampas o nos empuje por distintos caminos. ( )
  naturaworld | Aug 12, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
We all have books that rededicate us to the fantastic powers of fiction, and this is one of mine. McDermott makes the point that when a person’s life story is fully told they may become more mysterious—easy to say, but when fiction brings you to a realization like this, when an author can make this happen inside of you—there’s nothing like it.
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Somewhere in The Bronx, only twenty minutes or so from the cemetery, Maeve found a small bar-and-grill in a wooded alcove set well off the street that was willing to serve the funeral party of forty-seven mediium-rare roast beef and boiled potatoes and green beans amandine, with fruit salad to begin and vanilla ice cream to go with the coffee.
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