Kilbrack

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Scribner, 2003 - Amnesia - 305 pages
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O'Leary Montagu - tall, dark and normal, as Mary once described him - was born at the age of twenty-five, a difficult age, as he himself admits. He woke up in a hospital bed, a scarred amnesiac, and fell immediately in love with a young nurse, fresh from Ireland, Mary.
Eleven years later and Mary, an alcoholic now and traumatized herself by O'Leary's neuroses, flees to her parents in Ireland. He finds himself homeless, impecunious and labouring under an ill-starred fate. But at least he has the memoirs of his beloved Nancy Valentine to guide him. He embarks on his life-long ambitition: to visit Kilbrack, her idyllic childhood home, and write her biography.
The arrival of this stranger in the dilapidated village proves an unsettling affair, not least for the local pharmacist, J.D.Downey, 'dispenser of drugs and advice', and for Nellie Maguire, erratic spinster of the pub. The frenzied Mrs Cuthbert makes plans for O'Leary to marry her daughter, Livia, and restore the family fortune. But Livia, to spite her mother, vows to become a nun. The parish priest is busy cornering the Irish ham market; while from the big house comes a thin sardonic laughter as Valentine Brack composes his endless histories.
What has happened to Kilbrack? As Nancy Valentine says in her memoirs, 'Love that dared to speak her name was forced to quit her home.' O'Leary's coming will change all that, but in a manner no one - in his right mind - could foretell.

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Kilbrack, or, Who is Nancy Valentine?

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In this grand, outrageous, and heartwarming work, Irish novelist O'Neill forcefully blends farce and slapstick with existential and absurdist drama, exploring the tortured complexities of family ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Raised in County Dublin, Jamie O'Neill is the author of Kilbrack and At Swim, Two Boys, which won the Ferro-Grumley Award for Fiction and the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Men's Fiction. He lives in Galway, Ireland.

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