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By the Lake

About the Book

By the Lake

Joe Ruttledge and his wife Kate have left their jobs in London to live on a farm in Ireland, near where Joe was born. In doing so, they enter into a community in which people know each other's ways intimately, but usually can't afford to speak the truth directly to each other. Among the neighbors are the gentle Jamesie and his wife Mary, who haven't spent a night away from the lake in seventeen years; Patrick Ryan, the builder who never quite finishes what he starts; John Quinn, who will stop at nothing to make sure his sexual needs are met; Bill Evans, the farmhand whose orphaned childhood was marked with cruelty and whose adulthood bears the scars; and the wealthiest man in town, Joe's uncle, known locally as the Shah.

A year in the lives of these and other characters unfolds through the richly observed rituals of work and play, of religious observance and annual festivals, and the details of the changing seasons, the cycles of birth and death. With deceptive simplicity and eloquence, McGahern reveals the fundamental workings of human nature as it encounters the extraordinary trials and pleasures, terrors and beauty, of ordinary life.

By the Lake
by John McGahern

  • Publication Date: April 8, 2003
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 0679744029
  • ISBN-13: 9780679744023