“Annie Dunne,” Barry’s latest novel, is an eagerly anticipated followup to the 1998 critically acclaimed “The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty. Set in the hills of County Wicklow in 1959, “Annie Dunne” is a tale of two unmarried women in their 60s who are trying to make ends meet on their small farm. When a local man begins to court one of the sisters, a small, enclosed world is turned upside down. Barry’s prose style is at time reminiscent of Frank McCourt, not least because he employs the present tense. Kirkus Reviews has described “Annie Dunne” as “a tone-perfect and powerfully engaging tale.” Viking. 228 pp. $24.95.
Despite all the talk of retirement, Maeve Binchy is finding it hard to put the pen down. And her legions of fans will be mightily relieved. Binchy’s latest tale is about her changing native Dublin seen through the eyes of people who wine and dine in a restaurant called Quentins. Characters from previous Binchy bestsellers such as “Tara Road,” “Evening Class” and “Scarlet Feather” all make appearances in the eatery owned by the apparently unflappable Patrick and Brenda Brennan. Binchy fans will lap this one up. Dutton. 359 pp. $25.95.
THE IRISH STORY
Telling Tales and
Making It Up in Ireland
R.F. Foster has rightly attained his reputation as one of the more serious writers on Irish history over the last few years. For some, his is a revisionist tack, but in this new treatment of Ireland’s story, Foster is presented as an iconoclast. He argues here that Irish history has been reduced to little more than kitsch, has been manipulated for political ends, that Irish poverty and oppression have been unduly sentimentalized and packaged and that Ireland is in danger of being turned into little more than a historical theme park. Foster includes critiques of the memoirs of both Frank McCourt and Gerry Adams. His is undoubtedly a provocative approach but that is essential if history’s pot is to be stirred enough to prompt public interest, reaction and critical comment. Oxford University Press. 282 pp. $28.
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THE COLLECTED STORIES
Clare’s Boylan’s reputation as a novelist is by now well established, but along the road that has produced six critically acclaimed full-length novels, including the recent “Beloved Stranger,” Boylan has been penning short stories. In this volume, 20 years of short fiction tales are gathered together under the name of an author who has been compared to the likes of William Trevor and Alice Munro. Counterpoint. 396 pp. $16.50.