Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are two NYPD rookies assigned to the same Bronx precinct in 1973 for a short period. Although they aren’t close friends they end up being next door neighbours in Gilliam, in upstate New York - a place of suburban houses with large lawns. Lena Stanhope is lonely living in this new suburb, and she reaches out to her neighbour Anne Gleeson. But the elegant but cold Anne just wants to be left alone. The loneliness of Lena and the mental instability of Anne sets the stage for a tragedy that will engulf both families.
It is their children, Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter, who find their friendship ripped away from them after the tragic, violent event in their eighth-grade year. The Stanhopes are forced to move away and the children are banned from seeing each other. But Kate and Peter eventually find their way to each other, and their relationship is tested by the events of the past as they strive to make a life together. Family ties, alcoholism, mental illness, love and tragedy are all part of this extraordinary literary novel.
I found this a slow novel to get in to, but it was well worth persevering, as this is truly a graceful and tender story. A story of love and redemption set over four decades, it’s a moving and gripping family drama that I thought was simply wonderful. Ultimately this is a story about forgiveness and the power of love to overcome.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Penguin Random House, RRP $37.00