Annie Dunne by Sebastian Barry – set in Wicklow, Ireland, in 1950 – is a poignant and exquisitely-told story of innocence, loss and reconciliation.
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Annie Dunne and her cousin Sarah live and work on a small farm in a remote and beautiful part of Wicklow in late 1950s Ireland. All about them the old green roads are being tarred, cars are being purchased, a way of life is about to disappear. Like two old rooks, they hold to their hill in Kelsha, cherishing everything. When Annie’s nephew and his wife are set to go to London to find work, their two small children, a little boy and his older sister, are brought down to spend the summer with their grand-aunt.
It is a strange chance of happiness for Annie. Against that happiness moves the figure of Billy Kerr, with his ambiguous attentions to Sarah, threatening to drive Annie from her last niche of safety in the world. The world of childish innocence also proves sometimes darkened and puzzling to her, and she struggles to find clear ground, clear light – to preserve her sense of love and place against these subtle forces of disquiet. A summer of adventure, pain, delight and ultimately epiphany unfolds for both the children and their elderly caretakers in this poignant and exquisitely told story of innocence, loss and reconciliation.
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