This lovely book does not fight for your attention, it earns it. It gently lays bare the
human heart and reminds us that rebirth is still possible, despite age and absence.
Mary was born in Ireland but moved to the U.S. to be a nanny. Lyle, of Irish descent,
always lived in America. He dutifully cared for his dying mother until he reached his
third decade and met Mary just prior to her return to Ireland. Inexperienced and
hopelessly in love, Lyle treks across the Atlantic to fetch Mary back. They make a life
together in America, raising two sons to adulthood. Mary learns to live with his cranky
and curmudgeonly ways, as Lyle accepts his wife’s endless chatter.
When Lyle retires, Mary expresses the desire to move back to the land of her birth and is
surprised at Lyle’s willingness to accept. They move near Mary’s sister, Roisin. Mary
seems a little lost now, having been gone for so long. Lyle is his usual distant self. He
harbors disdain for the Irish, yet becomes almost hostilely defensive when a young
American visitor spouts his unique opinion about the Famine.
As time goes by, the grumpy Lyle finds himself warmly interested in a younger
American woman. Unbeknownst to him, Mary has become infatuated with an Irish
gentleman. The real test of courage and commitment come when Mary is stricken
with pneumonia and Lyle must face the possibility of being alone in this country that is
not his homeland. The book’s title, I believe, is directed more to Lyle than Mary, as a
plea for him to return to the romantic notions that won Mary’s heart so many years
The author gives us important glimpses of Mary, Lyle, their two sons, Kevin and Jimmy,
and other family members through her use of time-transporting vignettes. Thus, this
book becomes a novel in stories. Once pieced together, we see these people a bit clearer.
But while we, as readers, learn the background stories, the other characters do not know
these facts themselves. As a result, much more is revealed by the secrets that remain
I must give this book 4-1/2 stars. As Mary might say, “So, ‘tis grand.”