Title: Ask Again, Yes
Author: Mary Beth Keane
Length: 388 pages
Publisher: Penguin/Michael Joseph Books
I was thrilled to be asked to take part in this blog tour, it was one of the books of the summer and I couldn’t wait for its release on August 8th in the UK.
Gillam, upstate New York: a town on ordinary, big-lawned, suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours. Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable- wants to be left alone. It’s up to their children – Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will almost be brined by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all. A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later…
‘We repeat what we don’t repair’
This is one of the best books I’ve read all year. It’s will for sure be in my top 10 of the year. Top 5 in fact. It’s exquisite.
This book took me quite a while to read, for many reasons. It’s the kind of book you pay attention too, you soak in every word. It also makes you pause to think. You just sit with it, make sure you take it all in. There’s also the fact I didn’t want it to end and I just wanted to savour every page, chapter, sentence and word.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a piece of fiction that encompasses humanity like ‘Ask Again, Yes’. It covers so many aspects of humanity love, loss, hope, tragedy, secrets, mental illness, redemption and forgiveness. For me, forgiveness is the driving force of this novel and I love it. There’s so many examples of it, Peter forgiving Anne so many times without even realising, Lena forgiving Frank, Kate forgiving Frank. It’ll leave you thinking about how much your willing to forgive and your own depth of humanity.
It also have one of the most honest, real representations of Mental Health I’ve personally ever read. It’s dealt with such class. Where this novel spans decades, it show the difference between how mental health was dealt with then and to how it’s dealt with now. And it’s heartbreaking. Anne’s journey is one of the greatest arcs for this novel. Honestly it’s just so accurate. At first I thought she was going to be the token “villian” but as more is revealed, you truly understand the hardships she’s facing in her mind. But when reading it through Peter’s perspective it’s still so moving and heart wrenching to read.
The shining factor of this book for me is the characters. They are phenomenal. Throughout the first half of the book you get so wrapped up in their story and begin to care about them, that as you reach the second half and the end, you can’t wait find out where all the characters end up. Anne is a character I won’t forget for a long time. Her small redemption with the family towards the end had me sobbing.
The writing in this book is just wonderful. Years pass in one sentence and it doesn’t feel rushed. So much is said in so little. It has a simplicity, a rawness, a quiet confidence that sets this novel apart. The writing is real, that’s where the beauty lies in it. It’s says what it’s needs to say, nothing more. It’s genius.
Thank you to Penguin Books, Michael Joesph Books for a copy of this book, in return for an honest, unbiased review.
This book came out on August 8th and you can pick it up now wherever books are sold. You won’t regret it.
Until the next review