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Amongst Women
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1001 book reviews > Amongst Women by John McGahern

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message 1: by Eadie (last edited Feb 22, 2016 06:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eadie (eadieburke) 5 Stars
This was a very powerful read about a former IRA member raising his family of three daughters and two sons under very strict, controlling and violent conditions. Although he professes love for his family, the outcome of the Irish War has caused him frustration and he takes it out on his family. They in turn are very loyal to him, except for his eldest son who has his father's personality. McGahern does a great job conveying the effects of the negativity of Moran on each member of the family and their reaction to it. Although the book is a harsh look at a family, I do highly recommend it as it is a well-worthwhile read.

message 2: by Kristel (last edited Jan 31, 2018 06:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kristel (kristelh) | 3874 comments Mod
5 stars, 2/8/2010
Amongst Women (1990), Irish Times/Aer Lingus Literary Award (1991), GPA Award (1992), nominated for the Booker Prize (1990).
Moran is the father of three daughters and two children. He is an embittered Irish Republican soldier. Moran marries Rose, his second wife. Everyone lives their lives in step with Moran's moods which change quickly without warning. Everyone except the one son who leaves before the story begins.

I enjoyed this novel very much. I think the author's best achievement was to describe the aging process of this man who had so much influence on those around him.

Chinook | 282 comments 4 stars

So, Moran is an asshole. He’s a domineering emotionally abusive man who makes his wife and daughters spend their entire lives trying not to set off his temple and manage his moods for him. I read him as a man angry that options weren’t open for him - no school unless he was to become a priest even though he was clearly smart and no progression up the military ranks in spite of his talent, probably in my opinion as the result of the fact that the military was very class based. I assume he had a very difficult childhood, not that it is much discussed, but he mentions his race fear of workhouses and poverty more than once. He’s a man who absolutely will cut off his nose to spite his face - no military pension for him! - and your nose too - no medicine at university for his daughter! And his beatings are sufficiently bad that it seems his son Luke will never, ever forgot or forgive. It certainly sounded horrific to me.

And yet, he’s a surprisingly sympathetic character for all that. It’s a quiet novel, slowly painting a portrait of this domineering man who, denied his own chances for much advancement, cuts his family off from others, makes them live in fear and his first instinct is always to deny them any future of their own choosing. A man who denied the power he sought in the outside world instead uses his power over his children and wife instead.

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