Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The House of Rothchild: Volume 1:Money’s Prophets 1798 to 1848, by Niall Ferguson, 1999, 522 Pages

An Autodiactic Corner Primary Pick

The House of Rothchild: Volume 1: Money’s Prophets 1798 to 1848 by Niall Ferguson is close to essential reading for anyone into not just 19th century European history, banking history, Jewish history but much of 
European literature, especially that of Balzac (who fashioned an important character in La Comedie Humaine on James Rothchild), Emile Zola, and Marcel Proust.  

As Ferguson says in his introduction there is a great deal of web space devotrd to the Rothchild’s and it is all pretty much trash.  The Rothchilds are part of the fantsies of the right and the left.  Ferguson’s work gives the truth about the history of what by around 1850 was the richest family in the world. He explains how they became so wealthy in fascinating detail.  We learn of their government contacts, their private information networks, how governments received loans, how the bond market worked and also currency trading.  We learn about how laws dictating where Jews could live impacted them.  Rothchild sons were not permited to marry outside the family.

Ferguson explains how business was run and how politics impact the family.

Volume One covers from 1798 to 1848.  I hope to read Volume Two soon and will post more then.

This is an elegant history, extremely well documented.  My only quinble is that when Ferguson tells us that in 1845 the London Branch made a profit of £1,500,000 I cannot relate that to now.  You can find this through Google but I think a Conversion chart would have been helpful.

Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, Harvard, where he served for twelve years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History. He is also a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. 

He is the author of fourteen books. His first, Paper and Iron: Hamburg Business and German Politics in the Era of Inflation 1897-1927, was short-listed for the History Today Book of the Year award, while the collection of essays he edited, Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals, was a UK bestseller. In 1998 he published to international critical acclaim The Pity of War: Explaining World War One and The World’s Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild. The latter won the Wadsworth Prize for Business History and was also short-listed for the Jewish Quarterly/Wingate Literary Award and the American National Jewish Book Award. In 2001, after a year as a Houblon-Norman Fellow at the Bank of England, he published The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000.  More detail can be found at

Mel u

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Distant Star by Roberto Bolano, 1996, translated 2004 by Chris Andrews

Born 1953 Santiago, Chile

Died 2003 Blanes, Spain

Nazi Literature in the Americas, 1996

Savage Detectives, 1998

2666, 2004

Roberto Bolano is a hugely influential writer.  His two most famous novels, Savage Detectives and 2666 might well, after the dust of a couple of decades settles, becomes standards on Hundred Greatest Novels of the 20th Century lists.

My first exposure to Bolano was Savage Detectives, focusing on a highly inbred group of young Mexico City poets.  Full of disturbing imagery and misogynistic sexual elements, it captured the chaos of a huge Mega City.  Then came 2666, I read it around ten years ago, one time, and much is in my mind as if I read it yesterday.  It is very much a novel of the reading Life cantered around a decade plus string of murders of hundreds of women in the border city 

of Juarez Mexico.  Many writers today have been heavily influenced by 2666.  Then I read a book, much shorter, I really loved, you cannot love 2666 or Savage Detectives, they are just to overwhelming, Nazi Literature in the Americas.  This is written as if it were an learned treatise on fascist writers in North and South America.  Maybe  it reads as if Voltaire after a very long Mescal driven Month in Juarez might have written this.

Distant Star is an expansion of a chapter in Nazi Literature of the Americas, “The Infamous Ramirez-Hoffman”.  Hoffman was an aviator who took the occasion of the 1973 

Coup d’ ├ętat to start his own version of The New Chilean Poetry Movement.  In this he combined verse, sky-writing, torture, photography, and murder to create art.  Later in the novel he joins the Chilean Airforce and flys a Messerschmitt over the Andes.  Our narrator, deeply obsessed with Ramirez-Hoffman, winds up in a prison camp for political undesirables.  Upon release he cannot escape his obsession.  Ramirez-Hoffman has become a cult 
celebrity  for his work in underground fascist publications.  

Distant Star is a very entertaining book.  It is really more the story of a poet obsessed with another poet than just the poet.

First you must read Nazi Literature in the Americas.  I actually recommend this as your initiation into Bolano.  Then read the big books.  Maybe Distant Star should come fourth

Mel u

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Hapsburg Archduke by Timothy Snyder - 2010

An Autodidactic Corner Selection

The Red Prince:  The Lives of a Hapsburg Archduke by Timothy Snyder is a beautifully crafted work of biography by a leading American historian who focuses  on Central Europe and the Holocaust.  Prior to this Mel read his essential Holocaust studies, Black Earth:The Holocaust as History and Warning and Bloodlands:Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.

Wilhelm Von Hapsburg (born in Losing, Austro-Hungary 1895, he died 1948 in Kiev, Ukraine in a Soviet prison awaiting transportation to Siberia)
was among the last of the Hapsburg dynasty. The Hapsburg family ruled much of Central Europe from 1273 to 1926. He was a walking argument in favour of the end of rule by hereditary monarchs.

We are way behind on posting so I will just say I greatly enjoyed this book and let the publisher sum up the book.

“Part of the family that ruled much of central Europe since 1273, Wilhelm von Habsburg (1895–1949) came of age during the last 23 years of the dynasty's rule. Von Habsburg lived a nomadic and tragic life; he was a bisexual and a political chameleon (including a brief pro-Nazi period) who was implicated in a major financial scandal in Paris during the 1930s. But during WWI, he had become a fervent Ukrainian nationalist, and this became his life's one constant, culminating with efforts to help formerly pro-German Ukraine turn to the West at the end of WWII. As Yale historian Snyder (Sketches from a Secret War) shows, his efforts were futile; he was charged by the Soviets with spying and died in prison. Snyder hews closely to his subject, so that the complexities of 20th-century Ukrainian history sometimes get short shrift, e.g., he devotes only two sentences to the 1933 terror famine that killed three million peasants. Generally, though, this is an interesting biography of a man whose colorful life embodied many of the tensions that plagued Europe in the early 20th century.” - from the publisher 

Avant Bousweau 
Consultant Upon the legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire 

Monday, March 26, 2018

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers her Family’s Nazi Past by Jennifer Teege and Nikola Sellmair, 2011,in Translation 2013

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers her Family’s Nazi Past by Jennifer Teege and Nikola Sellmair was a huge international best seller, first published in Germany. It is a combination personal memoir and Holocaust history.

Teege’s father was Nigerian, her mother German.  She was given up for adaption at four weeks and became part of a wonderful German Family, with two older brothers and very supportive parents. Teege talks about the challenges of growing black in Germany but her story begins when, at age 38, while visiting a library, she by accident finds a book that will change her life.  She did know her biological grandmother and in a book on the Holocaust discovered her grandfather was the concentration camp commandant made famous in the film Schindler’s List.  She saw pictures of Amon Goeth and her grandmother living in a nice house.  She thought how could her grandmother, who seemed so wonderful, live in luxury in the camp and love a vicious killer. From the balcony of the house her grandfather would, just for fun, shoot inmates at random. This discovery devastated Teege. Teege elegantly and movingly relays her difficulties in coping with this. 

Niloka Sellmair, in alternating chapters tells us more of Teege’s life history and of her grandfather.

This is a very well done book.  It was translated from German by Carolin Sommer.  

I’m quite behind on my posting so I am just being briefly here.  

JENNIFER TEEGE has worked in advertising since 1999. Teege studied Middle Eastern and African studies in Israel, where she also learned fluent Hebrew. Teege lives in Germany with her husband and two sons. This is her first book. For more information about Jennifer Teege, please visit She is available for speaking engagements. Please contact speakersbureau@ 

NIKOLA SELLMAIR graduated from Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and has worked in Hong Kong, Washington, D.C., Israel, and Palestine. She has been a reporter in Hamburg at Germany’s Stern magazine since 2000. Her work has received many awards, including the German-Polish Journalist Award, for the first-ever article about Jennifer Teege’s singular story.

Mel u

Surviving The Angel of Death - The Story of a Mengele Twin at Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri - 2011

Surviving the Angel of Death - The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz 
by Eva Moses Kor and Lisa Rejany Buccierri is a very moving account of what it was like to be at age ten to be taken with your family from a comfortable farm in Romania  to Auschwitz.  Upon arrival a guard asks her if her two younger daughters are twins.  The guard tells her it will be good for them so she says yes.  The parents and siblings of the twins are sent to their death, Doctor Mengele takes the girls to his Laboratory.  He uses twins to preform horrible experiments.  For example one twin may be infected with a disease and once she dies, the other twin will be killed for study.  Eva’s sister was given a medication that kept her kidneys from growing beyond her tenth year.  Dr. Mengele told Eva her sister would be dead in two weeks but she survived, thanks to the dedication of Eva bringing her food.  The twins called stealing from the Germans, “organising”.  

The book gives us a full picture of life in the lab.  The twins got more food and were treated better than slave labourers as Dr. Mengele wanted them kept alive.

It was very exciting when Russian troops, some Jewish, liberated the camp.  The girls big concern was finding out about their parents and siblings.  After spending time in Displaced Persons Camps and helped by Jewish Relief Organisations they return to their farm in Hungary, once they saw how bad things were they knew their parents must be dead.  The government, under Soviet Rule, had confiscated almost all their land.  The twins are taken in by aunt.

You can read this work in under two hours so I will tell no more of their lives other than say this is wonderful story.  Ms. Kor’s message is forgiveness.  She is dedicated to Holocaust education.

This book was written to e accessible to young adult readers but all into the Holocaust will be very glad they read this book.

In the interest of full disclosure I was kindly given a copy of this book.

Eva Mozes Kor is a resident of Terre Haute, IN. She founded an organization for surviving Mengele twins in 1985, and helped to pressure governments to search for Josef Mengele. In 1995, she opened a small Holocaust museum in Terre Haute, which has grown into the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, at which she continues to give presentations and tours, especially to school-aged children. She is a recognized speaker, both nationally and internationally, on topics related to the Holocaust, medical ethics, forgiveness, and peace. She has been covered in numerous media outlets, including “60 Minutes” and “20/20,” and is the subject of a documentary, Forgiving Dr. Mengele. 

CANDLES is an acronym for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors. CANDLES, Inc. was founded in 1984 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization by Eva Mozes Kor with help from her twin sister, Miriam Mozes Zieger, to launch an effort to locate other surviving Mengele twins. As a result of their efforts, Eva and Miriam were able to locate 122 individual Mengele twins living in ten countries and four continents. The search for more twins continues to this day.
Through the lens of the Holocaust, visitors of all ages can learn about the consequences of choices, the importance of never giving up, the dangers of prejudice, and the need for genocide prevention today. Our permanent exhibit, "Choices: The Holocaust Through Eva's Story," details the story of Eva Kor, Holocaust survivor and Mengele Twin, from before the war and through the rise of Nazism, to surviving the Auschwitz concentration camp and her journey of forgiveness.
In 1995, Eva opened the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute. In 2003, the museum was firebombed by an arsonist and burned to the ground. With support from the community and organizations, a new museum building opened in 2005 and remains an important part of the community today. The museum draws increasing numbers of visitors every year, many coming from long distances.

Lisa Rojany Buccieri has written over 100 children’s books, including several award-winning and bestselling titles. She is also a publishing executive and editor with over 20 years of experience in the industry, and is the lead writer for Writing Children’s Books for Dummies. As well as spearheading four publishing startups, Lisa has simultaneously run her own business, Editorial Services of L.A. She has been Editorial/Publishing Director for Golden Books, Price Stern Sloan/Penguin Group USA, Intervisual Books, Gateway Learning Corp (Hooked on Phonics), and Intervisual Books. Lisa lives with her family in Los Angeles. She may be contacted at

Mel u

Sunday, March 25, 2018

“The Green Sock is Good”. - A Short Story by Riham Adly - 2017

You can read “The Green Sock is Good” here

Riham Adlay on The Reading Life - Includes Links to More of her Stories

“The Green Sock is Good” is the third delightful story by Riham Adly upon which I have had the pleasure of posting upon.  The darkly comic tone of “The Green Sock is Good” let us see the versitile talent of Adly  

Here is how the narrator’s day starts:

“How can you possibly go to work wearing these?”
I looked down at my feet and smiled.
“What’s wrong with them?” I pretended not to notice.
“You’re wearing mismatched socks and one of them is green for Heaven’s sake! That’s bad luck,” Bob, my all-knowing husband, hollered, before pointing his index finger at my feet. Must admit though, the look on his face was priceless.
“I don’t have to be a neat-freak like you, and besides they’re both clean. No holes in the soles, and contrary to your belief, green brings good luck.”
His frown deepened as I started laughing. I wasn’t making any sense believing mismatched socks brought good luck, but they did—this pair at least.”

Our narrator is on the way to give an important presentation, if it goes well it make bring her a promotion at work.  Rushing out of the apartment house where they lives, she forgets her car keys and, in a rush, takes a cab.  The driver has been drinking and looks like a zombie.  When she steps out of the cab, she is slighly hit by a passing car but luckily her laptop is not damaged.  When she gets to her office for the presentation, the guard tells her she looks like she needs to go to the hospital.  She says she has a big presentation this morning, the guard says “What do you mean this is Sunday, no one is here.”

When she tells her next cab driver her address he tells her that the building at that address burnt down just a bit ago.  I will leave the rest of the plot untold, I loved finding out what happened to missing green sock and I bet most readers  will.

I look Forward to following the work of Riham Adlay for a long time.

Riham Adly is a creative writing instructor and an emerging writer from Egypt with several short stories published in online lit magazines such as Page and Spine literary magazine, the 10 minutes novelist magazine, The Alexandrian, Paragraph Planet, Visual Verse and the HFC journal of arts and literature. Her short story “The Darker Side of the Moon” won the MAKAN  AWARD in Egypt. She’s not someone who lets rejections discourage her; the more the merrier. Riham currently hosts her own book club “Rose’s Cairo book club” in the American University in Cairo, Egypt to provide refuge for those few–but existing–bibliophiles.

Mel u

Friday, March 23, 2018

“The Child That Went With the Fairies”. - My Favourite Short Story by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, 1870

1814 to 1873, Born and died in Dublin

Sheridan Le Fanu (he is descended from Huguenots driven from France to Ireland in the 16th century)   

I have featured his work in all previous ISSM events and this month I decided to reread one of my favourite of his short works, “The Child That Went With the Fairies”, 1870.

Joseph Sheridan le Fanu (1814 to 1873, Dublin) is at the very least the best 19th century writer of ghost stories.   He also created the first lesbian vampire, Carmilla.  He is a really great writer and almost everyone who reads one of his works goes on to read lots more. I certainly have.  He is descended from 17th century French Huguenots.  Among his most famous longer works are Uncle Silas and The House by the Church Yard.

He seems to be the first author who made use of lesbian vampires in his stories.   He was a very prolific writer of horror, gothic, and mystery fiction.  

He had an interesting life that you can read more about here.    I was also very happy to see that almost all of his novels and a  lot of his short stories can be found online on the web page of the library of the University of Adelaide.    His  work is considered to have strongly influenced the work of Bram Stoker, also from Ireland, the author of Dracula.

A a deep seated belief in the supernatural seems to be an element in the Irish Short Story.    Alongside the beliefs sanctioned by The Church is vast structure of  beliefs in  fairies, witches, evil omens, leprechauns and much more.    This supernatural world is imposed on the mundane one we appear to live in.    Historians tell us that such belief structures are often found among the powerless peoples in colonized countries as a form of coping with their frustration with their situation.   

Le Fanu's prose style does not at all feel old fashioned or arcane to me.   Much of the history and pain of the common Irish country people is wonderfully shown in "The Child That Went With the Fairies”. 

The story is short and beautifully told and you can read it if you want in just a few minutes so I will not say much of the plot.   The story is very Gothic, very atmospheric and very scary.    A mysterious carriage, more beautiful than anyone has ever seen,  is passing through the village.   When young Billie comes out to see it, a beautiful women beckons him into the carriage with an apple.    As the children look into the carriage they see a horribly ugly woman with face that would scare the devil sitting next to the beautiful woman.   Billy gets in the carriage.   His mother is driven to great despair as she fears Billie is lost forever.     Once and a while he seems to appear at the door to her hut, her other children say they have seen him briefly in the village.    Then he disappears for years.   One day the mother returns and sees him in her house for sure.   He is dressed in the worst rags,  is filthy dirty, and looks starved.   As the mother rushes to him, he disappears  never to be seen again.    I think this story is in part about how parents tried to cope with the starvation of their children in the great Irish famines of the 19th century in which millions died.    

Mel u

“At The Automat” - A Short Story by Mariam Raskin - February 7, 1966 in Forward, translated from Yiddish by Laura Yaros

Born 1889, in what is now Belarus

Immigrated to USA, 1920, settles in New York City

1922, begins to publish Yiddish Language Short Stories in the Forward to which she will contribute many stories over the next fifty year period

Dies, 1973, New York City.

Mariam Ruskin is best known for her stories about Jewish Women living in New York City.

“In the Automat”, set in New York City centres on a middle aged single woman.  Critics describe Ruskin’s style as  “American Yiddish” meaning lots of American slang creeping into the language.   Here is how the story starts:

“ON A SUMMER’S evening, Miss Posner sat down at a small table in a restaurant to eat her supper after a turbulent day at work. She enjoyed spending an hour or two in the automat. 43 She was a saleslady in a women’s clothing store, and all day she had to stay on her feet and deal with the women customers. Here she could relax. Miss Posner was not in a hurry to go home. She knew that her clean, neat, comfortable room would be waiting for her. She reserved moviegoing for Saturday nights, when she didn’t have to hurry to get up early the next morning and when the whole next day would be a relaxed, leisurely Sunday. Miss Posner enjoyed eating her supper alone upstairs, on the balcony of the automat. It seemed to her that a better class of people sat there.”

Miss Posner always sits alone, upstairs as she feels the people up there are higher class. She loves to speculate about the lives of the people she sees there.  We sense she feels competitive with other women there.  As the story ends she is on the subway home.  There is a lingering submerged sadness to her story.

I could not find an image of Mariam Ruskin, if you can help me on this please leave a comment.

I read this story in s wonderful anthology of Yiddish short fiction,
Have I Got a Story for You - More than a Century of Fiction from the Forward edited by Ezra Glinter with an introduction by Dana Horn. It was a 2016 finalist for the Jewish Book of the Year.   Founded in New York City in 1897, Forward was the most renowned Yiddish newspaper in the world. For generations it brought immigrants news of their homelands, recipes, as well as lots of information about how to get along in America.  It also published many works of Yiddish language fiction by some of the greatest writers in the language.  

(You can learn about the history of Forward on their website 

An Informative Article on Mariam Ruskin.

Mel u

Thursday, March 22, 2018

“The Secret of the Growing Gold”. - By Bram Stoker, 1897- A Short Story by the author of Dracula

Born 1847 Dublin

Dracula published 1897

Died 1912 London

In addition to publishing  Dracula and starting a vampire craze the world still is gripped by in the same year he published an entertaining ghost story about the revenge of a woman scorned,  “The Secret of the Growing Gold”.

As the story opens we learn of the history of two families, both with long histories in the same area of rural England.  One family has an aristocratic linage, the other yeoman roots.  The families have both  seen better times.  Stoker liked to write about declining aristocracy and we see that in the higher society family.  A romance has developed between a woman from the common family and an aristocratic man.  One day they are out for a carriage ride together.  The man gets out briefly and during this time the carriage falls of a cliff, destroying it and killing one of the horses. The body of the woman and one of the horses is never found.  An investigation finds nothing and in time people forget the incident.  After a time the man, who went to Italy, sends word he is coming back with his bride, an Italian lady.  He has the house renovated to look like the mansion of her father back in Italy.  Now things get scary!  The missing woman seems to return one night, horribly scarred from the wreck.  He has no idea how she got in past the servants.  Stoker has created a very powerful atmosphere befitting his many years in the theatre.  A terrible revenge is taken on the man and his innocent pregnant bride.

Probably very few would still read this story if Stoker had not blessed or cursed the world with Dracula but in any case it was fun to read and if you accept things scary.

I read this story in a book I acquired on sale as a Kindle for $1.95, Irish Ghost Stories edited by David Davies.  Ten classic writers are included, half of the 520 pages is devoted to Sheridan la Fanu and the Introduction is good.  You can read the story at the link above.  I hope to read a few more Irish Ghost Stories this month.  Ireland has lots of ghosts.

Mel u

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

“The Springs of Affection” - A Short Story by Maeven Brennan, from The New Yorker, March 18, 1973

I first encountered  the work of Maeve Brennan during Irish Short Story Month I in 2011 when I listened to a wonderful podcast of of the story on the webpage of The New Yorker in which Roddy Doyle reads the story.   During Irish Short Story Month Year II in 2012 I posted on a truly great cat story, set in her adopted home town of New York City, "Bianca, I Can See You".

Born Dublin, 1917, died New York City, 1993

Maeve Brennan's life should have been a perfect fairy tale of happiness.   There is a fey beauty in her face but I also sense fear and a dark hunger.   

Brennan's father was the first Irish Ambassador to the United States.   Her father fought for freedom from British rule in  the Irish War for Independence.     The British imprisoned him for a while.    Brennan and her family lived in Washington DC until 1944 when her father returned to Ireland.   She stayed on in the US and moved to New York City where she got a job writing copy for Harper's Bazaar.   She also wrote a society column for an Irish publication.     She began to write occasional articles for The New Yorker.    In 1949 she was offered a job on the staff of the magazine.   She was incredibly beautiful, very intelligent, witty, petite, always perfectly dressed and made up.   She moved about frequently and had extravagant tastes.    Some people feel she was the inspiration for Holly Golightly, the lead character in Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958).   In the 1960s people began to observe that she was now beginning to appear unkempt.    In the 1970s Brennan became paranoid and was an alcoholic.    She began to drift in and out of reality and was hospitalized   several times.    She ended up living either in transit hotels or in the ladies room at the offices of The New Yorker.   (I also read William Maxwell's introduction to one of her collections of short stories published posthumously and learned that to its great credit the magazine had secured for her a place where she could stay and be fed but she rarely went there.)    In  the 1980s she all but disappears.   She died in 1993 in the Lawrence hospital, a  ward of the state.    As I read this I could not help but be reminded of Jean Rhys but I think the story of Brennan is more tragic in that Rhys partially recovered from her years of darkness and was seen as a great writer while still alive. 

“The Sorings of Affection” is regarded by all as Maeve Brennan’s best work, Alice Munro loved it.  This is the sixth of her stories to be featured during an 
ISSM.  Among Brennan’s favourite works of short fiction were The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Turgenev’s The Sportsman’s Notebook, any anything by Colette (I am drawing on an essay by William Maxwell who for twenty years was her editor at The New Yorker.)  She had a photograph of Colette, from her older years, on the wall at the New Yorker office.  

This magnificent story brought to my mind an equally magnificent classic Irish poem, “The Great Hunger” by Patrick Kavanagh for its focus on the emotional emptiness at the heart of many Irish lives, a hunger for a connection to others.  In fact in both of the stories from Dubliners I featured this month as well as the very contemporary stories by Brian Kirk and Steve Wade, Dublin writers, develop this theme.  

“The Springs of Affection” is a very sad story, heartbreaking for the cruelty of the people in the story to each other.  The story is told by an eighty year old woman, for the last six years she has been living with and taking care of her twin brother.  He has just passed and she feels relieved of a duty she resented and free to return to her own home.  Growing up she lived with her brother, her two younger sisters and their parents.  She thinks back to the day her brother, in action she never forgave, ruined everyone’s future by getting married.  She sees his transferring his love from the family to his wife, an outsider as a deep betrayal.  

“My mother was never the same after Martin married, she thought, and it was then, too, that Clare and Polly became restless and hard to get along with, and stopped joining in the conversation we always had about the family fortunes and talked instead about what they were going to do with their own lives. Their lives-and what about sticking together gether as a family, as we had been brought up to do? They got very selfish all of a sudden, and the house seemed very empty, as though Martin had died.”

We go back into her life when she was growing up.  Her father cannot read or write.  His wife gives him no love or respect.  In a segment just so briiliant and sad the father acquires the money to buy some piglets.  He soon finds in these pigs more love than from his family, he loves feeding them and is so gratified when they recognize him.  One morning he walks in and slams some money on the table, telling his wife, “Here is your blood money”.  He sent the pigs to the butcher.  After that the father begins to wander.  Once the brother marries, the other two sisters marry Protestants, not Catholics.  

There is so much in this story.  

Please share your experience with Maeve Brennan with us 

Mel u