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Amongst Women by John McGahern
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Amongst Women (original 1990; edition 1998)

by John McGahern

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7872016,742 (3.87)83
Member:clevercelt
Title:Amongst Women
Authors:John McGahern
Info:Faber and Faber (1998), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
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Amongst Women by John McGahern (1990)

  1. 10
    The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh (hdght)
  2. 00
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (hdght)
  3. 00
    The Poor Mouth by Flann O'Brien (hdght)
    hdght: This is originally a Irish children's story, but it has many important Irish themes such as famine, family, cultural struggle, and mythology.
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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
I started this book last year and left it lying fallow for a few months, then picked it up again seeing as I thought to tidy up a few loose ends in the new year. On the back it says something like- read it in two hours, but it will limger for months. Well, it took me a lot longer than 2 hours to read, but I'll admit the characters are keepers.

Moran is the head of the household in rural Ireland. He is gruff, moody and suspicious of those outside the family. The family consists of himself, and his five children, the eldest of which is now London-based and non communicado. He prefers not to engage with a father he sees as domineering and cruel. The three middle children are young women who put up with their father, feeling that he is the heart of a family that they simply cannot exist without the support of. Youngest is Michael, who gets incrementally less happy when each of his siblings grows up and moves out.

The story is told over a period from when Moran brings a wife into the house, who is able to both put up with and quell the moods of her husband, the moods which so dominate the household. The comings and goings of the children, the hay harvests, the introduction of boyfriends/fiancées, and the increasing conflict arising between the remaining son and his father make up the fabric of the story. It is deep storytelling, in spite of the few pages it is told in. And it handles very well the issue of how fine a line abuse can straddle. ( )
  LovingLit | Jan 2, 2017 |
Book Description This novel tells the story of Michael Moran, a bitter, aging Irish Republican Army (IRA) veteran, and his tyranny over his wife and children, who both love and fear him. It was shortlisted for the 1990 Booker Prize and won The Irish Times/Aer Lingus Literary Award in 1991.

My Review This was a very powerful read about a former IRA member raising his family of three daughters and two sons under very strict, controlling and violent conditions. Although he professes love for his family, the outcome of the Irish War has caused him frustration and he takes it out on his family. They in turn are very loyal to him, except for his eldest son who has his father's personality. McGahern does a great job conveying the effects of the negativity of Moran on each member of the family and their reaction to it. Although the book is a harsh look at a family, I do highly recommend it as it is a well-worthwhile read. ( )
  EadieB | Jun 1, 2016 |
Wonderfully delicate and human. The Irish patriarch at the heart of this tale, Michael Moran, is one of the most believable characters in recent fiction. Reminds me somewhat of my father. I suspect he reminds everyone somewhat of their father... ( )
  sometimeunderwater | Dec 4, 2014 |
I read this book for an Irish literature course.

I commend McGahern for making me passionate about this book - passionately angry. The characters were so infuriating. All of them. Luke was perhaps the least infuriating but he still got on my nerves a bit because he gave up on having a relationship with his dad or seeing his dad before he died. I understand that sometimes there is just too much negativity between people for the relationship to ever be mended but still.

Pretty much in every scene of the book I wanted to yell at a character or characters. Moran abuses his family - emotionally and physically. I thought maybe Rose would at least help with that situation but if anything she made it worse.

I was just angry that these people kept coming back even though Moran, without fail, would treat them horribly 99% of the time. Sheila finally gains enough confidence and bravery to stand up to her father, but not for her sake or her siblings'. Luke at least saw Moran more clearly than anyone else but when he expressed that he wanted to maybe try to work things out with his father, in the same breath he said it was too late. I don't think it was.

I could rant about this book for so long. I both wanted these damaged people and this broken family to work things out, and I desperately wanted his children to get away and find a happy life.

Also, McGahern would contradict himself quite often in the narrative which made the book tedious at times. The timeline of the novel is a bit hard to follow because of the formatting and lack of standard chapters. At times the narrative was completely unorganized, jumping from the past to the present, to the future, and then back. Also, there were almost transitions from one scene to another. Oh, it's this day and this is happening oh look it's now this is happening and it's the next morning but I don't say that right away because I like to be unorganized and unclear. As well, sometimes I would get hints of things like inappropriateness - if you catch my drift - from Moran towards his children, but it was never really elaborated on. Why include it in the first place?

I gave it two stars because despite all of the problems and how much it angered me, the book did manage to make me feel strongly about the story. If a writer can accomplish that, they've not got a completely unsuccessful novel. ( )
  CaitlinAC | Aug 10, 2014 |
Amongst Women (1990), Irish Times/Aer Lingus Literary Award (1991), GPA Award (1992), nominated for the Booker Prize (1990).
Moran is the father of three daughters and two children. He is an embittered Irish Republican soldier. Moran marries Rose, his second wife. Everyone lives their lives in step with Moran's moods which change quickly without warning. Everyone except the one son who leaves before the story begins.

I enjoyed this novel very much. I think the author's best achievement was to describe the aging process of this man who had so much influence on those around him. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
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As he weakened, Moran became afraid of his daughters.
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Book description
Moran is an old Republican whose life was transformed for ever by his days of glory as a guerilla leader in the War of Independence. Now, in old age, living out in the country, Moran is still fighting - with his family, his friends, even himself - in a poignant struggle to come to terms with the past.
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