Author(s): Alice McDermott
'At seven, I was a shy child, and comical-looking, with a round flat face and black slits for eyes, thick glasses, black bangs, a straight and serious mouth - a little girl cartoon. With my heart pinned to my father's sleeve'
Someone begins on the stoop of a Brooklyn apartment building where Marie is waiting for her father to come home from work. It is the 1920s and in her Irish-American enclave the stories of her neighbours unfold before her short-sighted eyes. There is war -blinded Billy Corrigan and foolish, ill-fated Pegeen - and her parents' legendary Syrian-Irish marriage - the terrifying Big Lucy, and the ever-present Sisters of Charity from the convent down the road.
As the years pass Marie's own history plays out against the backdrop of a changing world. Her older brother Gabe leaves for the seminary to study for the priesthood, his faith destined to be tested to breaking point. Marie experiences first love - and first heartbreak - marriage and motherhood, and discovers how time can reveal us all to be fools and dreamers, blinded in one way or another by hope, loss or the exigencies of life and love.
One life in all its devastating pains and unexpected joys; its bursts of brilliant clarity and moments of profound confusion. Fragments of a curious childhood, of adolescent sexual awakenings, of motherhood and, finally, old age are pieced together in this resonant story of an unremarkable, unforgettable woman.
The quietest life can resonate the longest. A beautiful, bittersweet masterpiece about a remarkable journey of the heart - longlisted for the National Book Award
To spend time with Alice McDermott's slim seventh novel is less to read a story than to slip through piercing shifts of emotion as its pages turn ... Told in prose that can feel almost physically radiant. The light that floods this book is used throughout to show what words cannot communicate in these simple lives. Any emotional turn brings a chance in light, often imbued with a sense of grace ... McDermott is an extraordinary writer. This is a beautiful book Sunday Telegraph American author Alice McDermott deserves to be far better known in the UK - and this latest novel shows why. Spanning the 20th century, it weaves together bittersweet vignettes ... In McDermott's stripped-down prose, details as commonplace as a vase of fading lilacs speak volumes, making for a complex portrait that's both particular and universal Daily Mail One of the author's most trenchant explorations into the heart and soul of the 20th-century Irish-American family . [an] elegy to a vanished world Kirkus (starred review) Narrative jumps thematically through Marie's life, adeptly building up a picture of who she is Vogue Even sceptical new readers, however, won't fail to be captivated by McDermott's skills. One of the most powerful aspects of Someone is the superficially haphazard though meticulous structure of the book ... It is a testament to McDermott's skill for snapshot storytelling that the reader doesn't feel overwhelmed and that there is no melodrama ... Long, perfectly crafted sentences ... Careful artistry Literature Review Very poignant Image Magazine A sad and tender portrait of ageing ... McDermott's highly crafted writing - her poised sentences, finely wrought imagery, intricate structuring and emotionally laden detail - is not just clever, but poignant Sunday Times Ireland It is a testament to the author's talent that the novel, in which not all that much happens, is near impossible to put down ... This beautiful, non-sensationalist portrait of someone's life is one that will stay with you for a long time Western Mail Much more than just another examination of the Irish-American experience. It's a shattering, century-spanning history of one apparently ordinary life as a troubled young girl settles in 1920s Brooklyn. Told with characteristic care, force and economy Time Out Quietly exquisite ... This is a book so deft that even the damp shirts and school blouses on the clothesline have some import ... McDermott brings supreme ease and economy to summoning young Marie's memories in detail ... This slender-looking book is filled with incident, transformed by experience, apprehensive at the constant sense of imminent loss ... 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 Scotsman Profoundly tender novel Sunday Times Ireland A novel like this raises questions about why, though critically and commercially successful, McDermott is not greeted by the fanfares of fame that some of her male contemporaries could expect to receive Scotland on Sunday This beautiful, non-sensationalist portrait of someone's life is one that will stay with you for a long time Irish Examiner Profoundly tender novel Sunday Times A novel sprinkled with memories of childhood, adolescence right up unto old age comes together to give us a charming tale of an ordinary life in an ever changing world Woman's Way It is easy to fall in love with Alice McDermott's prose ... McDermott has amassed various prizes for her previous six novels, and this book demands similar attention Times Literary Supplement Her wisdom, gently hewn out of the stuff of every day, shines through this memorably atmospheric story. Here is the simple but priceless gift of seeing the beauty of things and knowing that even through pain and loss that beauty will abide and indeed glow brighter the longer we look The Times Quietly masterful . Finely dispersed, leaving the reader to enjoy the thoughtful, appealing and culturally noteworthy story of someone whose anonymity is not to be taken for granted Irish Times
Alice McDermott is the author of seven novels including After This, Child of My Heart, Charming Billy (winner of the 1998 National Book Award), At Weddings and Wakes, That Night and A Bigamist's Daughter. She has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize three times and has also been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. She lives with her family outside Washington DC.