Every summer members of the O’Donoghue family return to the Irish garrison town of Ferrycarrig to the house where they all grew up. It seems none of the family has quite escaped the meshes of their childhood. In that house academic excellence has always been taken for granted and there is no quarter for those who have failed. Eleanor, the cleverest daughter, retains her status but despises her husband Con. Their daughter, Julia, retreats from parental rejection into a private world of her own. Ruth, married to Martin, a favourite grandson, wonders why the family come back each year when past summers linger around the place like ghosts.
This brilliant portrait of a family is described over four generations by five of its members, each interlocked in a dependence that seems to transcend time.
Val Mulkerns’s style, her milieu, her sense of calm, almost comfortable despair are highly individual. – Colm Toibín
Her style is hard and perfect, and she has given us a considerable achievement to reckon with. – Benedict Kiely
This novel, by renowned Irish writer Val Mulkerns, was originally published by John Murray of London in 1984, and the new third edition is available in paperback and Kindle formats.