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 McDermottSee more books from this Author
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.Read Full Review of Someone: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus
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.Read Full Review of Someone: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly
“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.Read Full Review of Someone: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times
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.Read Full Review of Someone: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times
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.Read Full Review of Someone: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books
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.Read Full Review of Someone: A Novel | See more reviews from NPR
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.Read Full Review of Someone: A Novel | See more reviews from NPR
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...Read Full Review of Someone: A Novel | See more reviews from Star Tribune
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.Read Full Review of Someone: A Novel | See more reviews from Washington Times
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.Read Full Review of Someone: A Novel | See more reviews from LA Times
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