Bobbi Woods's Reviews > Charming Billy

Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
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's review
Sep 09, 2009

it was ok
Read in September, 2009

This is the story of Billy Lynch, an Irish American from Queens, NY and his many family members and friends. Billy was jilted as a young man and never quite got over the pain, as he drank himself to death many years later. The story was told from the point of view of Billy's cousin Dennis' daughter, which is really confusing and difficult to figure out until at least halfway through the story.

I noticed that both descriptions of this novel (the one on Goodreads and the one on the back cover of the book itself) describe the book differently than I would have--almost as though the person who wrote it hadn't read it!

That said, I thought the writing was beautiful. I am always a fan of flowery prose! The problem is that the writer was all over the place with the story. At times, the voice seemed to change. I often found myself re-reading sections because I felt like I was missing something. From the way the book cover sounded, I thought that Billy's friends and relatives were going to take turns telling stories about his life and that each person may have had a different take on things. The story skipped around so much, I had a hard time following it.

I am sad because this book had the potential to be one of my all-time favorites, containing: ethnic flare, family dysfunction and lovely prose. However, the way the story is told falls a bit short, leaving the reader quite a bit unfulfilled.
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