18 March, 2015

History of the Rain by Niall Williams [Biddy, Highland Park Library]

Ruth Swain is a young woman bedridden by a mysterious illness. She lies in her bed in the attic of a thatched farm cottage surrounded by 3958 books piled beneath the skylight in her room and watches and listens as the rain continues interminably. A poetic image, and a story brought to life by Williams' lyrical language that had me pausing to re-read sections just to enjoy the prose.

While tracing the history of her family and their idiosyncrasies, Ruth continually relates experiences to one of the books in her room. When describing her Grandfather Swain in action in World War I: "He's got all that mind... Mind has Mountains, that's in Gerard Manley Hopkins (Book 1,555, Poems and Prose, Penguin, London)".

Ruth's life is one filled with hardship in the grey, poverty-stricken part of  Ireland she inhabits. However, her tone is not melancholic but filled with hope and humour.

She relates her family's history - their endless challenge in striving to achieve the Swains' Impossible Standard that always succeeds in just eluding them, the loss of her beloved twin brother Aeney, and her father's quest to write the perfect poem.

This is a book worth reading-and re-reading!

Title: History of the Rain
Author: Niall Williams
Publisher: London, Bloomsbury
Date: 2014
ISBN: 9781408852026

1 comment:

  1. It is so easy to fall in love with this family, this loved Father, this love of reading and story telling...loved every bit of it.

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