Monday, July 26, 2010

Four Letters of Love | Niall Williams

This is one of my all time favorite novels. It has everything we could ever want in a story. It’s difficult to describe the feeling we get reading this book because it’s rich and overwhelming at times. Like eating too much cake, or looking at a gorgeous painting or sculpture. There is just too much beauty.

It’s a very Irish story, written by someone in love with the landscape and its people.  Niall Williams knows his subject inside out and I think that’s why we fall deeply into the centre of this book.

This is the story of two families, the Gores and Coughlans. William Coughlan comes home one day and announces God has spoken to him and he’s going to quit his job and paint. To this end he goes to the West, where he tries to capture the light on his canvas. What follows is the unraveling of his relationship with his wife and son Nicholas. A slow dissolution into depression and anguish as he relentlessly pursues art and his family relentlessly pursues him.

The second storyline is of Muiris Gore. Tragedy follows his family. His son is a musical prodigy who out of the blue has a fit and is left lame and mute. Isabel, his bright sensitive daughter bears the weight of her family expectations and guilt over her brother’s illness.
There is so much Irish angst and such sweet sorrow in the telling of these two stories. Pathos and melancholy, not in a depressing way but in a way that makes us think that is entirely feasible that this kind of story belongs to real people.
In the end we are filled with hope and resolution as both families come together in love and hope and a future.

If you read nothing else, read this novel.
Once I finished this one, and recovered, I read all his novels.”As it is in Heaven”, “The Fall of Light”, ”Only say the word”, ”Boy in the World”, “Boy and Man”.”John”.
They are superb, great books, great reads.

Four Letters of Love
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