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Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane - Review

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

I got this book via Netgalley, so many thanks to Penguin Random House for pre-approving me for this book. I received an ecopy of the book for review but was not otherwise compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This book is really epic - it spans over forty years in time and is quite long. I was reading it when I was away with some friends for a few nights, and I was really glad because it gave me quite a lot of time to concentrate really hard on the story. I had actually previously read the prologue and couldn't get into it, but then I really some good reviews of the book and wanted to give it another go.

Right at the beginning of the book we meet Francis Gleeson. He's an Irish immigrant to America and has just graduated as a cop in New York. He is about to get married to Lena. His partner on the beat is Brian Stanhope, whose wife Anne is also an Irish immigrant.

Brian talks about moving out of the city to Gillam to bring up their kids. Francis thinks this sounds ideal and the two families end up living next to each other in the leafy suburb.

Lena tries to make friends with Anne, but her advances are rebuffed. Anne has a stillborn son. Lena has two daughters, Nat and Sara, and then she and Anne end up pregnant again at the same time. Anne has Peter and a few months later Lena has Kate. The two spend their childhoods together even though the families aren't close.

One night when they're thirteen, they sneak out of the house to meet up. They're starting to fall in love and Peter is determined that they'll get married when they're older. Anne, though, hates Kate and warns Peter to stay away. When they're caught sneaking back in, a violent tragedy occurs meaning that the Stanhopes have to move away from the area.

We then see Kate and Peter as teenagers but then see their lives come back together. We see the next thirty years of the families' lives and everything that encapsulates. There are parts from the point of view of Francis, of Kate, of Peter, and of Anne. There are some time skips which can be a little bit confusing at times, but I got used to it. I loved Kate as a character - I would like to think I'm quite like Kate. I liked Francis a lot, too. It was interesting to read his experiences. Anne is mentally ill, and I think this was handled really well, showing why she made the decisions she did. And Peter was an absolute survivor. You could have written a whole novel just about him, but I'm glad everyone else was involved too.

It's a great book, really epic in scope and written in a really good way. I'll definitely read something else by Mary Beth Keane. I'm giving this five out of five.

Ask Again, Yes will be published on 8th August 2019.


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