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The Visitor

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  291 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
When The Springs of Affection, Maeve Brennan's collection of Dublin stories, was published in 1997, the poet Eamon Grennan called it a classic, a book that placed Brennan "among the best Irish short-story writers since Joyce". It was followed by The Rose Garden, which collected all of Brennan's remaining short stories -- fiction so good that one critic, Katherine Powers of ...more
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published October 28th 2000 by Counterpoint LLC (first published 2000)
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Anastasia King left her father's home when she was 16 to live with her mother in Paris. Now, when she is 22, both her parents are dead and she has returned to Dublin expecting to live in her old home with her paternal grandmother. But old Mrs King is quite content to live alone with her memories of her beloved son and has never forgiven her daughter-in-law for bringing shame on the family by leaving him. And she's no more willing to forgive Anastasia for choosing her mother over her fa
Debbie Robson
Jan 05, 2017 Debbie Robson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How do you review a small masterpiece? Well, it’s not easy but straight away the author struck me as an Irish Hemingway - the pared down prose and the hypnotic quality of the writing.
Here is the opening sentence of the novel. “The mail train rushed along toward Dublin, and all the passengers swayed and nodded with the uneven rhythm of it and kept their eyes fixed firmly in front of them as though the least movement would bring them to the end of their patience.” And here is our main character An
Jan 04, 2016 Trin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, irish-lit, 2000s
Maeve Brennan is so sharp -- sympathetic and yet somehow unforgiving, observational and unflinching. She's a clear literary ancestor of writers like Colm Tóibín, but also of Gillian Flynn and all her imitators. The Visitor is a novella about a young woman, after the death of her essentially exiled mother, returning to the house of her grandmother -- her father's mother. It's a novel about vengeance, worked in a number of subtle, essentially feminine ways, and it's delightfully brutal without con ...more
míol mór
Maeve Brennan (1917-1993), figlia del primo console della repubblica indipendente d���Irlanda a Washington, D.C., si trasfer�� negli States nel 1934 al seguito della famiglia, e vi rimase per tutta la vita.
Collaboratrice regolare di Harper���s Bazaar e del New Yorker, oltre che della rivista dublinese Social and Personal; nel corso degli anni ���50 e ���60 pubblic�� alcuni racconti meravigliosi, magistrali, molto ammirati all���epoca anche da John Updike ed Alice Munro. Senza contare i suoi col
Laila (BigReadingLife)
Dark but totally mesmerizing portrait of what's left of a dysfunctional family. (Read for Reading Ireland Month 2017.)
Nov 11, 2009 Jade rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
As a short novel, I don't think I really had enough time to get into it, and what little I did was to follow the story of selfish characters both dead and alive. Anastasia returns to her childhood home after the death of her mother, who left her father and his mother years prior. Upon her return, Anastasia finds her grandmother unwelcoming and desiring of the day when she will be left alone again, with only the memory of her now dead son and an aged housekeeper for company.
Although quite well wr
Oct 20, 2010 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-authors
I've been searching for this little book for most of the year, and finally last night found a copy. Maeve Brennan was a wonderful stylist, and this novella (dating from the mid-1940s) was only uncovered amongst the papers of a publisher donated to the University of Notre Dame a little over a decade ago, some six-years after her death. No one is alive to ask why The Visitor went missing all those decades; Brennan was apparently unsentimental in keeping her correspondence. The longing and heartach ...more
Lauren Stringer
Mar 12, 2012 Lauren Stringer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books
Sad and filled with despair, this story set in Dublin circles inside the mind of a young woman returned to her home after the death of her mother in Paris. Her grandmother makes it clear that she is not wanted there and can only stay for a visit. "In the music of Maeve Brennan, three notes repeatedly sound together-- a ravenous grudge, a ravenous nostalgia, and a ravenous need for love..."(from the editor, Christopher Carduff) This is absolutely true for this book-- Anastasia's memories from her ...more
A curious little book by the Irish author and journalist Maeve Brennan who wrote for the New Yorker under the pseudonym 'The Long-Winded Lady' in the 1950s and 1960s. This is neither a short story nor a novella, but lies somewhere in between the two just as the world depicted in it lies somewhere between past and present, between reality and dream. I chose it because it is thought to be Brennan's first piece of fiction and I'm about to read a collection of her short stories called The Rose Garde ...more
Dec 07, 2012 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 06, 2009 Daisy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Beth G., Alenka, Marieke, Muphyn, Victoria
Recommended to Daisy by: Roddy Doyle's NYer podcast
Shelves: favorites, ireland
Spare, sharp, cool, no--cold.
Tight and gorgeous. It's the first Maeve Brennan book I've read, aside from one story ("Christmas Eve") I heard on a New Yorker podcast.
Dec 07, 2012 Fidelma rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-read-again
I didnt really like it. I found it depressing and pointless to be honest. Her style of writing was lovely and I enjoyed that immensely
Feb 17, 2017 Martha.O.S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was saving this novella to read as I knew it was something I would enjoy, having previously read some of Maeve Brennan's short stories and I wasn't disappointed. It was beautifully written and the time and place of Dublin was very subtly but sharply rendered. The characters were interesting though I wasn't quite sure how I felt about Anastasia, the main character. She was vulnerable and pitiful at times but had a sharp edge to her also. The grandmother was very cold, bitter and judgmental-she ...more
No Books
Maeve Brennan (1917-1993), figlia del primo console della repubblica indipendente d’Irlanda a Washington, D.C., si trasferì negli States nel 1934 al seguito della famiglia, e vi rimase per tutta la vita.
Collaboratrice regolare di Harper’s Bazaar e del New Yorker, oltre che della rivista dublinese Social and Personal; nel corso degli anni ’50 e ’60 pubblicò alcuni racconti meravigliosi, magistrali, molto ammirati all’epoca anche da John Updike ed Alice Munro. Senza contare i suoi colleghi del Ne
Jan 06, 2017 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hesitate to recommend it to everyone because it is quite quirky but I loved it.
If I say this was a queer book, you might very well be unwilling to read it: it was a queer book. I would, however, recommend it to a small group of readers who are enchanted by Maeve Brennan's other works, as I am. This novella was published from a typescript, the only extant copy of her first known written story, found in a papers purchased in 1982 for the archives of the University of Notre Dame, in the business files of Sheed & Ward, "the premier Catholic publisher of its day" (informati ...more
Chiara Tinelli
Aug 12, 2016 Chiara Tinelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disagio e solitudine

Non conoscevo Maeve Brennan, giornalista del The New Yorker, autrice di racconti e di un unico romanzo breve pubblicato postumo, La visitatrice appunto. La protagonista è Anastasia King, una giovane rimasta orfana da poco che, dopo sei anni di assenza, ritorna a Dublino per far visita alla nonna paterna, l'unica parente che le sia rimasta. Il suo ritorno si svolge in un clima di malinconia, amplificato dalla pioggia battente che offusca i contorni della sua città natale.
Il ra
Oct 24, 2014 Piperitapitta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bellissima storia quella de "La Visitatrice", una storia di incomunicabilit�� allo stato puro.
Anastasia, poco pi�� che ventenne, che torna a Dublino dopo sei anni alla morte della madre, con la quale �� vissuta sei anni a Parigi, �� l'unica che tenti in qualche modo di farlo; cerca in tutti i modi di conquistare l'affetto della nonna paterna che invece l'ha gi�� condannata, quando fuggendo insieme alla madre ha abbandonato il padre.
L'atmosfera che dipinge la Brennan �� cupa, fioca, piovosa.
Oct 27, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it
Bought this at Open Books Chicago because it's short and the author's name sounded familiar. Brennan was on the staff of The New Yorker and died in obscurity in 1993. Apparently there has been a revival of her work. This novel was "lost" until the manuscript was uncovered at The University of Notre Dame.
The Visitor is the haunting tale of Anastasia King, who at the age of twenty-two, returns to her grandmother's house after six years away. She has been in Paris, comforting her disgraced and dyi
Lauren Davis
Aug 14, 2016 Lauren Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a shame Maeve Brennan isn't better known. She's was a splendid, subtle, intelligent and insightful writer. This is a short novel, more a novella, but packs a punch many longer works don't. Here, and in all her works, as Christopher Carduff says in the afterword, "...three notes repeatedly sound together -- a ravenous grudge, a ravenous nostalgia, and a ravenous need for love." This is the first book in which she plays that chord, and it sounds as an overture to all the wonderful work that f ...more
Aug 31, 2010 Sonia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have
There is something vaguely gothic and creepy about Brennan's The Visitor. In many ways it feels a little pointless, but simultaneously packed with meaning. I definitely get the sense that Brennan had intentions for every single one of my WTF moments.

I grew up with a narcissistic mother and Mrs. King reminded me of her. While I don't think with some small experience such as this in his/her past, the reader will perhaps be as affected by this read as I was, I still think it's a very interesting n
Dec 28, 2010 Chezzie rated it did not like it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I didn't get this novella. Flowery prose I tended to skim past, a past which is the center of the book which is never gone into... I was disoriented by how the scenes change so quickly, when I didn't get the point of the one we're moving on to the next. None of them connected for me. Most of all, the characters' emotions were flat and unfounded. I wish I could give this at least two stars, since the writing is decent (although Anastasia this, Anastasia that reminded me of "advanced" roleplayers, ...more
Nellie Airoldi
Apr 29, 2014 Nellie Airoldi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La visitatrice, quindi, diventa un vero e proprio stato d’animo, una sorta di limbo dove cercare il proprio futuro, dove trovare la propria pace, dove sperare di poter ritrovare la propria strada. Perché a volte è difficile comprenderlo ma a salvare noi stessi ci siamo solo noi, ognuno per sé.
Kat Asharya
Feb 15, 2012 Kat Asharya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read one Maeve Brennan short story and this novella was very much in that vein: spare, austere, cool, and ultimately devastating. The atmosphere of the story is very lonely, full of characters with a deep need for both love and spite. Beautifully written, I felt a bit distant from the narrative, but that doesn't lessen my admiration of the sculpted prose and control Brennan clearly has over her craft.
Nov 06, 2013 Elisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irlandesi
Ho apprezzato molto le ricostruzioni d'ambiente (aaah, la Dublino del secolo scorso!) e la sensibile descrizione delle dinamiche familiari e della psiche femminile. Tuttavia il racconto mi lasciato una sensazione d'incompiuto e non sono riuscita a provare una vera empatia nei confronti di nessuna delle protagoniste, non mi sono sentita particolarmente coinvolta emozionalmente.
Apr 14, 2009 Bryson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good; there were some interesting moments, and Brennan seemed to do a great job of developing tension without having too many things actually happen. Clearly well-crafted, but the subject matter wasn't something I could personally get into.
Jun 25, 2011 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The incomplete feeling lingers even though in my head it registers as complete in the richness of the emotions, the thickness of emotion in the text as the saddening and wrenching return home digs away at Anastasia's idea of self.
Jan 01, 2010 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ron by: Jim Donahue
An interesting glimpse into Dublin society, family pettiness and Catholic culture. The stern, vindictive grandmother, the impressionable and needy granddaughter, spinster friend, all-knowing housekeeper, and others populate this novella's finely wrought narrative.
Tanya Farrelly
Dec 26, 2015 Tanya Farrelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully evocative. An excellent sense of place - and eerie atmosphere. I'm not so sure about the rather abrupt ending - the reason perhaps for Brennan's not publishing it in her lifetime. I read this lovely book in one sitting.
Aug 30, 2014 Natira rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ich konnte nicht recht etwas mit der Novelle und den Figuren anfangen. Ob es an der irischen Mentalität liegt, kann ich mangels Kenntnis nicht beurteilen; die beiden Hauptcharaktere fand ich sperrig und schwer -emotional und rational - begreifbar.
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Maeve Brennan (January 6, 1917–1993) was an Irish short story writer and journalist. She moved to the United States in 1934 when her father was appointed to the Irish Legation in Washington. She was an important figure in both Irish diaspora writing and in Irish writing itself. Collections of her articles, short stories, and a novella have been published.

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“Home is a place in the mind. When it is empty, it frets. It is fretful with memory, faces and places and times gone by. Beloved images rise up in disobedience and make a mirror for emptiness. Then what resentful wonder, and what half-aimless seeking. It is a silly state of affairs. It is a silly creature that tries to get a smile from even the most familiar and loving shadow. Comical and hopeless, the long gaze back is always turned inward.” 14 likes
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