Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Charming Billy

Charming Billy
By: Alice McDermott (her website)
Picador, 1998

On the day of Billy's funeral his family gathers.  They discuss the man and his alcoholism.  The primary focus of conversation is what led him to drink, was his alcoholism fueled by the death of his first love, Eva.  They also discuss the effects of Billy's choices on his wife, now widow, Maeve.

My Thoughts:
1. I've made it no secret that I adore McDermott, but this book didn't enthrall me the way some of her other novels do.  The narrator jumped around a lot in time, which made the novel a bit confusing to follow at times.  I felt that a bit more delineation could have been made.
2. I, also, didn't feel that her prose was as beautiful as it is in some of her other novels.
3. The characters were as gripping and well-developed, as always.  She does an excellent job humanizing Billy.  The plot's slow unraveling of the details surrounding Billy's life help the reader to reconcile with some of his more detrimental and hurtful life choices. She inspires great sympathy for Billy and underlines the complexity of human nature and experience, ultimately the experience of love in various forms.

Recommended To:
Fans of literary fiction.  Those looking for a  moving story about the nuances of love and what consequences love, and love lost, brings.

Food for Thought:
Love can cause us to take ourselves and others down detrimental paths, how far is that justifiable?

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