A little while ago I gave a potted version of my reaction to Niall Williams's new novel History of the Rain; well, here in the UK the book will be published tomorrow (10th. April), so it's time for a full review.
Before I get to that, many of you will already have visited Shiny New Books, the online literary journal set up by Victoria, Annabel, Simon and Harriet which was launched earlier this week. When Simon invited me to write a piece for the first issue he left the choice of book entirely up to me, and on the basis of having read just the opening chapter I opted for History of the Rain, sure that it would be a wonderful read and an excellent subject for a longish review.
I'll give you the preamble:
"Plain Ruth Swain is bed-bound in her attic room beneath the skylight and the ever-present rain, for this is the west of Ireland, Faha, County Clare, and fourteen acres of sodden farmland by the River Shannon, and as Ruth gives us her family history, and notes that ‘down this narrative all manner of things will float’, it’s a river of a tale she tells, sometimes meandering, trickling, gushing, rushing, but always flowing with such humour and poignancy that no reader will come away unaffected, unmoved."
and the summing-up:
"this is a glorious novel whose richness of language, soft cadence and gentle rhythms are used to both highly comic and deeply touching effect.
‘There is no frigate like a book to take us away,’ wrote Emily Dickinson. Open this one and prepare to be transported."
You'll find the full article here, and I hope it will give you the flavour of this marvellous novel which has been a highlight of my reading year so far.