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Friday, February 22, 2013
12:36 pm est
While suffering through the flu
the past two weeks, I did nothing else except nap on the couch and watched vintage Walter Matthau movies. And, of course, between naps and flicks, I read.
Now, I have secretly been in love with Walter since 1968
when I first saw him in Charade, co-starring Audrey Hepburn. And while I
consider that film one of the best of his more than sixty-eight (not to mention his myriad television and stage appearances),
I am forever enamored of his role as Horace Vandergelder in Hello, Dolly (1969)
with Barbra Streisand. But my most current favorite is Hopscotch (1980)
with Glenda Jackson in which he portrays Miles Kendig,
a renegade CIA agent who is intent on publishing a memoir that exposes the inner workings of the CIA and the KGB. It is a
veritable and virtual tour de force. I watched it three times in the past two days. Miles, a.k.a. Walter, is my hero in this
great comedic thriller. And it, just like other Matthau movies, brought back fond memories of my late childhood and earlier
adulthood, when the future loomed brightest and most beautiful against the background of love and laughter.
much like the novels of my "cousin", Monica McInerney, whose latest, The House of Memories*, runs the emotional gamut through love, loss, grief,
anger, and love again, all interspersed with poignancy, laughter, and intrigue. I've yet to read a story by her that fails
to spark my interest or tell a meaningful tale. My liking, no, loving her books is pretty obvious, isn't it?, considering
three current entries on this Blog are about her novels. It seems I am addicted, and rightly so. She is, I must say, a truly
great writer. As one critic put it: "…the Maeve Binchy of Australia and the Jane Austin of our time." I tend
Like most of her other novels, the protagonists in The House of Memories are Australians who for various reasons move/migrate/visit Ireland and/or England. In this case, it is Ella Fox Baum O'Hanlon
who leaves Melbourne after a major tragedy in her life and, under the pretext of asking her to solve a series of robberies
of families for whom he provides tutoring services, goes to stay with her Uncle Lucas Fox in London. Lucas strives to assist
Ella to come to grips with her grief, which is, as one of the characters says two-thirds through this emotionally
stirring novel, "selfish." Ella cannot let go of it. And she tenaciously refuses to allow those closest in her life
to share her totally engulfing sorrow.
Told alternately through the sometimes manic, often annoyingly self-centered
diary entries of Jess, Ella's younger step-sister; engaging emails from their step-brother in Boston; as well as first- and
third-person narratives, this is an enchanting story of familial relationships in the face of death. McInerney once again
waves her magic wand of words to conjure up a profound romance that is more than just a story about love. It is about the
profound psychological impact of tragedy upon a family and its inter-relationships; how it can rent it asunder and/or pull
its members together. And, as always, Monica tugs at your heartstrings with deep, true-to-life characters, surprise plot twists,
and believable situations that prod her readers to sit up in tears and wonder long after the ending: What would I do
if this happened to me?
This is one memorable McInerney novel, for sure, that I will never forget.
* © Monica McInerney 2012. First published in Australia, September 2012 by The Penguin Group, Melbourne, AU. While
the publication date has not yet been set for the American version, I was fortunate enough, however, to receive a copy of
the Australian edition from my "cousin". Watch for it to be published here in the States. It's a great read that
should be on everyone's TBR list.
J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is
an author, poet, and librettist. Her currently published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations,
volumes of poetry, stories
for children (of all ages) and
a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Hose, Hook & Ladder: A Novel of Phoenixville during World War I
Columbia Hotel: A Novel
of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of Phoenixville in
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World War II
Rainbow in the Sky
of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A
Collection of More Spiritual Poems
We Three Kings
Beauty and the Beast
Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding
Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She
is currently working on her sixth novel.