Someone by Alice McDermott
A Novel

82%

12 Critic Reviews

Reading Someone is like having a loquacious neighbor telling stories over coffee and cake at your kitchen table after dinner. You're skeptical at first. Does she really have anything interesting to say? But soon, you're enchanted by her anecdotes and observations.
-NPR

Synopsis

A fully realized portrait of one woman's life in all its complexity, by the National Book Award–winning author

An ordinary life—its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion—lived by an ordinary woman: this is the subject of Someone, Alice McDermott's extraordinary return, seven years after the publication of After This. Scattered recollections—of childhood, adolescence, motherhood, old age—come together in this transformative narrative, stitched into a vibrant whole by McDermott's deft, lyrical voice.
Our first glimpse of Marie is as a child: a girl in glasses waiting on a Brooklyn stoop for her beloved father to come home from work. A seemingly innocuous encounter with a young woman named Pegeen sets the bittersweet tone of this remarkable novel. Pegeen describes herself as an "amadan," a fool; indeed, soon after her chat with Marie, Pegeen tumbles down her own basement stairs. The magic of McDermott's novel lies in how it reveals us all as fools for this or that, in one way or another.
Marie's first heartbreak and her eventual marriage; her brother's brief stint as a Catholic priest, subsequent loss of faith, and eventual breakdown; the Second World War; her parents' deaths; the births and lives of Marie's children; the changing world of her Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn—McDermott sketches all of it with sympathy and insight. This is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived; a crowning achievement by one of the finest American writers at work today.

A Publishers Weekly Best Fiction Book of the Year

A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013
A New York Times Notable Book of 2013
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of 2013
An NPR Best Book of 2013

 

About Alice McDermott

See more books from this Author
Alice McDermott is the author of six novels.  Her articles, reviews and stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Redbook and elsewhere.
 
Published September 10, 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 241 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Someone
All: 12 | Positive: 11 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on Mar 31 2013

Marie’s straightforward narration is interrupted with occasional jumps back and forward in time that create both a sense of foreboding and continuity as well as a meditation on the nature of sorrow. There is no high drama here, but Marie and Gabe are compelling in their basic goodness, as is McDermott’s elegy to a vanished world.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jun 17 2013

In this deceptively simple tour de force, McDermott...lays bare the keenly observed life of Marie Commeford, an ordinary woman whose compromised eyesight makes her both figuratively and literally unable to see the world for what it is.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Oct 06 2013

“Someone” is a wonderfully modest title for such a fine-tuned, beautiful book filled with so much universal experience, such haunting imagery, such urgent matters of life and death. But Ms. McDermott is plain-spoken even at her most wrenching.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Leah Hager Cohen on Sep 06 2013

Aspects of this new novel might disappoint some readers. The middle-aged and elderly Marie is less vividly drawn than her younger iterations, and her brother, Gabe — potentially the most interesting character — remains enigmatic. ...Reading “Someone” isn’t a bad way to begin.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Judith Newton on Apr 21 2015

In Someone, McDermott makes us see the depth and fullness of ordinary life while also deepening our investment in compassion and love. To read this novel is to feel the wonder of life anew and to become, however momentarily, a better person.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Susan Jane Gilman on Sep 10 2013

Reading Someone is like having a loquacious neighbor telling stories over coffee and cake at your kitchen table after dinner. You're skeptical at first. Does she really have anything interesting to say? But soon, you're enchanted by her anecdotes and observations.

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Susan Jane Gilman on Sep 10 2013

In Someone, nothing extraordinary happens to an ordinary woman. But McDermott's novel manages to be gripping and resonant. In her own way, she achieves as much as the dazzling, muscular "hysterical realists." For she manages to break all the basic rules of writing — only quietly.

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Sep 04 2013

In Someone, McDermott summons up that vanished Brooklyn world and Marie's life in it, neither special nor heroic, just significant in its own right.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Carol Memmott on Sep 21 2013

While all McDermott’s characters thrive within her beautifully sad and revelatory prose, some readers may find, because of the book’s maudlin tone, that their love for them grows slowly. But grow it will...

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Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by Corinna Lothar on Oct 10 2013

There is much pleasure for the reader in this beautifully written story of a life filled with joy and pain, sorrow and delight in a neighborhood of poverty but replete with the rich fabric of everyday life.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Charles McNulty on Sep 13 2013

This is the grand accomplishment of "Someone," a deceptively simple book that is, in fact, extraordinarily artful, a novel that traces the arc of an unexceptional, almost anonymous life and, seemingly by accident though of course on purpose, turns a run-of-the-mill story into a poem.

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Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Deborah Dundas on Feb 06 2014

There’s no real action, but these clues make us want to know what’s to come...The story unfolds, then, the way life does.

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Reader Rating for Someone
75%

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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

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