Ask Again, Yes
By Mary Beth Keane
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Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours. Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone.
It’s left to their children – Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all. A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later…
A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood – villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so. A story of how, if we’re lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.Tweet
I followed the story but found it laboriously paced and none of the characters were very interesting or three dimensional. I won't rush to read another by Mary Beth Keane.
This story of the Stanhope’s and the Gleeson’s – two families with Irish American cops working in New York is an epic. Grounded in domesticity it explores relationships within families and communities and the ups and downs life throws at them. It tackles some seriously meaty issues – mental and physical health of individuals and the impact this can have on families and children from a young age to how they grow up. It also looks at how we support and forgive each other and really, what makes us human.
The characters are beautifully written, as a reader I had real empathy for all of them, whichever side of an argument they were on - Mary Beth Keane has a talent for showing all the angles and the thought processes involved. I enjoyed the physicality of the book, from how the characters were feeling, the impact being active or drunk (or hungover) impacted them, to the different seasons the book takes the reader through.
The role of a home and particularly how we live in them is perfectly depicted, this book made me realise just how much fun we have in our gardens and made me appreciate mine as the space outside to sit in and contemplate the world, or share with friends and family. It also demonstrates the home as a sanctuary or as a prison depending on your perspective.
Ultimately, Ask Again Yes is about how by remaining hopeful for the best often means things do turnout OK in the end, and that as humans the journey isn’t always easy, but worth it.
An amazing book that stayed with me long after I had finished reading it.
A deeply moving novel about two cops and their families in New York, the friendship between their children, and a tragedy that reverberates over four decades. Their lives intertwine and we follow the narrative from different perspectives. I couldn't put it down and when I had finished I spent the next week unable to pick up anything else to read.
We are reading as our bookclub choice and I am looking forward to discussing this book. I think this will be a book we could spend hours on. (less)
An epic tale told over many years, really interesting look at family, love, mental health and forgiveness