Ask Again, Yes

Ask Again, Yes : The gripping, emotional and life-affirming New York Times bestseller

3.95 (166,466 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Powerful and moving . . . Mary Beth Keane is a writer of extraordinary depth, feeling and wit. Readers will love this book, as I did' Meg Wolitzer, bestselling author of The Female Persuasion

A gripping and compassionate family drama set between neighbours in suburban New York

Gillam, upstate New York: a town of 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 left 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 be almost broken 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 . . .

A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood - villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so. A story of how, if we're lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.

'Keane takes on one of the most difficult problems in fiction - how to write about human decency . . . a compelling case for compassion over blame, understanding over grudge, and the resilience of hearts that can accept the contradictions of love' Louise Erdrich, National Book Award winning author of The Round House

'Leaves one shaking one's head in frank admiration. A triumph' Matthew Thomas, bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves
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Product details

  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 29mm | 481g
  • Michael Joseph Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0241410916
  • 9780241410912
  • 85,787

Review quote

Stunning! An absolutely brilliant, gorgeously-written novel by a fearless writer. Ask Again, Yes is both haunting and hopeful, like life itself. It's the consummate epic family story, one I can't stop thinking and talking about. A must-read for our time * Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women * The new Little Fires Everywhere . . . Exploring mental health, grief, forgiveness and love, this conjures up the work of Celeste Ng and Anne Tyler - and we can't give higher praise than that. The perfect summer read * Stylist * Immersive and deeply moving -- Anna Hope, author of Expectation A wonderful novel about a lifetime of love . . . Focusing on a small cast over several decades allows Keane to explore universal themes: marriage, family, betrayal and forgiveness. Above all, what is a good life well lived? * Daily Mail * One of the most exceptional novels of the summer . . . Has the makings of a future classic. Keane's prose is spare and elegant and she writes about mental illness and alcholism with compassion. It's a remarkable achievement * Sunday Express * I adored this book. I sank completely into the world of this novel and loved being there from beginning to end. Ask Again, Yes reminds us that after happily-ever-after comes the grit and grief of everyday love: in-laws, illnesses, betrayals and, scariest of all, the flaws that each partner will uncover in the other. It's an absolute stunner, an ode to family and forgiveness that has been crafted with compassion and insight * Sara Collins, bestselling author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton * Compelling . . . it is neighbourly conflict, not love, that drives this quietly devastating story . . . There are multiple twists skilfully delivered. The novel raises a series of profound questions . . . [and] as an exploration of parent-child relationships, the novel is both thoughtful and powerful * Hannah Beckerman, i news * This is one beautiful book. I was wowed by Keane's writing and narrative skill - and by what she knows about trouble -- Stephen King I absolutely adored Ask Again, Yes. I was only a few chapters in when I knew Mary Beth Keane was about to become one of my favourite authors. I'll read everything she writes * Liane Moriarty * A pleasantly accessible novel that will be popular with book clubs ... Keane is a nuanced observer * The Sunday Times * A novel of great compassion and understanding . . . rich with story * John Boyne, Irish Times * Powerful and moving . . . Mary Beth Keane is a writer of extraordinary depth, feeling and wit. Readers will love this book, as I did * Meg Wolitzer, bestselling author of The Female Persuasion * One of the most exceptional novels of the summer . . . Has the makings of a future classic * Daily Mirror * Leaves one shaking one's head in frank admiration. A triumph * Matthew Thomas, bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves * Keane takes on one of the most difficult problems in fiction - how to write about human decency . . . a compelling case for compassion over blame, understanding over grudge, and the resilience of hearts that can accept the contradictions of love * Louise Erdrich, National book award winning author of The Round House * A shocking tragedy turns what had been a portrait of domestic tension into a profound story of trauma and blame. Keane's gracefully restrained prose gives her characters dignity * Vogue * A beautiful novel, bursting at the seams with empathy * Elle * A powerful tale * Woman & Home * A captivating, authentic and intricately-woven story . . . Immensely affecting, this book poses big questions. Can we ever escape our history? Are we prisoners of our bloodlines? Ultimately, this book is an examination of love - familial and romantic. It is an epic story, quietly told. And it is all the better for that * Irish Sunday Independent * A story with real heart - moving and subtle and often very touching * Literary Review * If tense family dramas are your thing, you'll love this. I found this story hugely engrossing and the characters so well-drawn, I became completely invested in their lives * Good Housekeeping * A candidate for one of my best books of the year. I savoured every word of this eloquent, lyrical novel, which explores how the secrets that families carry can effect future generations . . . I was swept up in the drama * Prima * An explosive study of family dynamics . . . moving and thought-provoking . . . a gripping family saga that tackles mental illness and addiction and explores how childhood can inescapably shape the future * Daily Express * Fans of Liane Moriarty, meet your new favourite author * Red * Family ties are stretched to breaking point in the baking hot New York summer of 1973 . . . A book that's full of life lessons for people in a particular stage of their lives * Mariella Frostrup, BBC Radio 4 Open Book * Keane draws two families in sharp, moving detail, effortlessly peeling back decades of history to look at friendship, mental health, and the changing and sometimes warped face of love * Sunday Post * A rare example of propulsive storytelling infused with profound insights about blame, forgiveness and abiding love * People * Displaying impressive reach . . . Keane delivers an epic of domestic emotional turmoil . . . Tender and patient, the novel avoids excessive sweetness while planting itself deep in the soil of commitment and attachment. Graceful and mature. A solidly satisfying, immersive read * Kirkus, starred review * An immersive read about family secrets and redemption * Editor's Choice, Bookseller * A gut-wrenching tale centered around the families of two rookie, next-door neighbor NYPD cops and a tragedy that reverberates over four decades. The book revolves around the bond between their children, the daily intimacies of marriage and the power of forgiveness * Good Morning America Summer Reads * One of the most unpretentiously profound books I've read in a long time . . . As a writer, Keane reminds me a lot of Ann Pratchett; Both have the magical ability to seem to be telling "only" a closely-observed domestic tale that transforms into something else deep and, yes, universal. In Keane's case, that "something else" is a story about forgiveness and acceptance - qualities that sound gooey, but are so hard to achieve in life . . . Modestly magnificent * Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air * An Updikean epic of intertwined families destabilized by grief and estrangement following a mother's breakdown, then redeemed by their enduring compassion for one another * Best Books by Women Summer 2019, OPRAH Magazine * 10 new books to read this August * SheerLuxe * A powerful tale of two neighbouring families forever entwined by love and tragedy. . . A touching read * Woman's Weekly * Mary Beth Keane draws two families in sharp, moving detail . . . With hints of Curtis Sittenfeld about it - the way it effortlessly unspools years, but buffets you with a huge amount of detail - it considers friendship and mental ill health, how love changes and warps, and despite a fairly slow start, does so beautifully * The Herald * Poignant and powerful * Image * A miniature epic . . . like Elizabeth Strout, Keane is good at creating distinctive characters - flawed, empathetic men and women whose inner landscapes she captures in powerful, pared-down prose. The novel is a nuanced portrait of the impact of mental illness and addiction, the limitations and endurance of love and of how 'we repeat what we don't repair' * Belfast Telegraph * A thought-provoking read exploring mental illness, alcoholism and violence * Candis * Fans of Celeste Ng will love this modern American novel based on two families linked by tragedy and passion . . . A lovely mix of childhood memories growing in to adulthood, and its really powerful * Stellar * With the author's deftness of touch, characters are rendered as real as those you encounter in daily life, and it's hard not to think about them even after reading the last pages * Connaught Telegraph * An engrossing drama about family, forbidden love, the toll of mental illness and the power of mercy * People Magazine * A powerful novel about mental illness, alcoholism, love and redemption * Daily Express *
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About Mary Beth Keane

MARY BETH KEANE attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia, where she received an MFA. In 2011, she was name one of the National Book Foundation's '5 Under 35', and in 2015 she was awarded a John S. Guggenheim fellowship for fiction writing. She currently lives in Pearl River, New York, with her husband and their two sons. She is the author of The Walking People, Fever and Ask Again, Yes - a New York Times bestseller, BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick, and winner of the Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show Summer Reads Book Club 2019.
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Rating details

166,466 ratings
3.95 out of 5 stars
5 26% (42,942)
4 48% (80,596)
3 22% (36,228)
2 3% (5,551)
1 1% (1,149)
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