Thursday 29 August 2019

Blog Tour ~ Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be hosting today's stop on this blog tour

Michael Joseph
8 August 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour

Gillam, a quiet suburb in upstate New York is a town of ordinary, big-lawned houses, a leafy settling ground for young families moving out of the city. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours. Lonely Lena Gleeson hopes to find a friend in her neighbour, but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone. It’s up to their children – Kate and Peter, who are born six months apart – to find their way to one another. Then, when Kate and Peter, a violent event divides the neighbours, and the children are forbidden to have any contact.

Is it possible to continue a friendship whose resilience and love has been almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible, tragic incident that has engulfed them all?

What did I think about it...

Two young NYPD officers strike up a friendship of sorts when they are first starting out on their respective careers. Quite by chance, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope settle down as neighbours and make homes with their new wives, in Gillam, a quiet suburb in upstate New York, a place which is perfect for raising a family. Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope are born within six months of each other, and a close connection is made between them which, in light of the catastrophic difficulties which later emerge, will test their friendship to the absolute limit.

There is an uneasy emotion running through the novel which is heightened by the weight of responsibility which is placed upon the characters, we look to Kate and Peter to offer some respite from the pervading sense of impending doom, and yet they are as troubled as we are by events. Far from the author making it easy for her characters she makes them work hard to gain our sympathies, there were almost times when I wanted to step into the story and put things right for all of them, but it was rather like watching things unfold in slow motion just knowing from the offset that life wan't going to be easy for any of them, particularly, Francis Gleeson, who I liked from the beginning, and Anne Stanhope, Peter's mother, who I didn't like at all, and who adds a whole different dimension to this emotional family drama.

There's an immersive quality to this author's writing which appealed to me, and I liked the way she made me feel both sympathy and revulsion for some of the characters. And even though the story is perhaps a little slow in places, I felt that the pace suited the writing, and the tightness of the family drama added an emotional depth. Ultimately, Ask Again, Yes is a story about the power of family, not just as a force for inherent good, but also about what happens when the dynamics within a family are shattered, seemingly beyond repair.

MARY BETH KEANE is the author of The Walking People, Fever and Ask Again, Yes. In 2011, she was named one of the National Book Foundation’s ‘5 under 35,’ and in 2015 she was awarded a John S. Guggenheim fellowship for fiction writing. Her previous novel, Fever, is in development with BBC America (Killing Eve) with Elisabeth Moss producing/starring as Typhoid Mary, and with the scriptwriter for Mad Men attached. Producers Bruce Cohen (America Beauty, Silver Linings Playbook) and Scott Delman (Book of Mormon), have optioned rights for Ask Again Yes. Mary Beth currently lives in Pearl River, New York, with her husband and their two sons.

Twitter  @Mary_Beth_Keane #AskAgainYes


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