Michael Shelden, a biographer of George Orwell and Graham Greene, argues that such a comparison understates O’Keeffe’s talent. “If he is following in the footsteps of any of his countrymen, it’s not the genteel craftsman Trevor, but someone far grander — James Joyce, whose longest and greatest story ‘The Dead,’ seems to be the model for O’Keeffe’s hauntingly beautiful tale ‘The Postman’s Cottage,’ the jewel of this outstanding collection.
“There is a wonderful Irish music floating through O’Keeffe’s prose, bringing it again and again to the verge of poetry,” writes Shelden in a review that appeared in this country in the Baltimore Sun.
In short review in the New York Times, Ada Calhoun writes: “Awful and unexpected events fill this promising debut, a dreamlike collection of four novellas spanning several generations. The residents of O’Keeffe’s rural Ireland can handle the awful; it’s the unexpected that ruins their lives.”
In language that is “lush and evocative,” Calhoun says,
“O’Keeffe conveys the pain that comes from standing over the corpse of a loved one, as well as the greater suffering that comes when there’s no body over which to stand.”
In the London Independent, Lesley McDowell was similarly positive: “This is vibrant, demanding, first-rate writing to keep you on your toes, not to while away the long hours of a summer day.”