Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

This is just a superb book in the best family drama tradition and I could hardly put it down.  Telling of the experiences of two families living next door to one another from the 1970s onwards, the story focuses most closely on Pete and Kate, best friends until tragedy pulls them apart.

The novel manages to be a page turner while also exploring the experiences of Irish immigrants to the US, and covers a wide range of other topics from mental health to alcoholism.  It’s a story of love and redemption, told simply but effectively.  For a child of the 70s and 80s as I was, it brilliantly captures the freedom and boredom of a child at that time.

It wasn’t until I was halfway through that I realised that Mary Beth Keane is also the author of Fever, another excellent read (a novelised history of the infamous Typhoid Mary in 1900s New York).  Whilst this is set in more recent times, Keane’s storytelling is flawless, pulling me in and leaving me thinking about the characters long after I’d put the book down.

With thanks to Netgalley for an advance copy of this book

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