Niall Williams || History of the Rain

I started reading History of the Rain when I was feeling slightly under the weather. I had failed to download the latest Marian Keyes and had resigned myself to Williams instead. The first sentence straight away made me feel that I was in luck. It set the tone of a novel lovingly describing Ireland, the incessant rain (in all of its variations), family and literature. I admire Williams for the fact that he never crosses the line between melodrama and literature; no need for dramatic violins accompanying a story about a father and son who set each other impossible targets, the impossible but true love between Mary and Virgil, the death of their son Aeney, the mysterious disease of their daughter Ruth, all set in an Ireland that is beset by rain and economic recession in which community still is a major force. History of the Rain is the quintessence of Ireland, at least Ireland as I got to know it through poetry, literature (Williams, Toibin, Doyle or MacLaverty) and television/movies (think Ballykissangel or The Commitments). Ruth Swain is the perfect marriage between poet and shrewd observer Emily Dickinson, the feisty women of Marian Keyes and Doyle’s Jimmy Rabbitte. Where the latter knew his music, Ruth knows her literature, at which point I must admit to the only possible downside of History of the Rain. I loved all the references and quotes Ruth uses throughout the novel. I know what she means when she proclaims ‘How public – to be a frog’ because I share her love for Emily Dickinson and more or less all the authors she shares with us. I can imagine though that a reader who is less into literature might experience an overload of authors, references and quotes. I hope that this reader will bear with Ruth and forgive her this need to share her love for her literature and everything it means to her with us. In that case the reader will be rewarded with a lovingly written novel about an unusual family in quintessential Ireland. In return I’ll reward you with Emily Dickinson and her I am Nobody!

I’m Nobody! Who are you? (260)

Emily Dickinson, 18301886
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –  
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –  
To an admiring Bog!

History Rain
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About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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