This thoughtful and beautifully crafted novel centers on a single extended family living in contemporary Dublin. Fintan Buckley (“a strong contender for the title of Most Unimaginative Man In Ireland”) is rather large around the middle, possessing an average job as a legal advisor and troublesome relationships with his mother, sister, wife, and children. As the novel progresses, he starts experiencing strange lapses of consciousness, during which he loses track of time and is overcome by auditory hallucinations. These inexplicable instances allow Fintan to ponder the nature of time and memory, spurred by a newfound fascination for early photography and prompting a reconciliation with estranged family in Northern Ireland. Well versed in the art of understatement, Madden carefully probes the quiet moments around the dinner table and in the café in which relationships falter, crystallize, or crumble away. Emotionally resonant yet starkly unsentimental, this beguiling novel—drawing its title from the famous lines in T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets—is rich in imagery and clear-eyed prose, while its preoccupation with the already known and deeply unknowable is evocative and confidently rendered.
Deirdre Madden was born in Ireland in 1960 and studied at Trinity College, Dublin and the University of East Anglia. She is the author of nine novels, including The Birds of Innocent Wood, which won the Somerset Maugham Prize, as well as One by One in the Darkness and Molly Fox’s Birthday, both of which were shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She teaches creative writing at Trinity College Dublin.