When Madeline Was Young

When Madeline Was Young

3.16 (2,128 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Women on the block called Mac's sister Madeline a beauty, a 'real Princess Grace'. But in spite of her height and mature body, to Mac, his sister never looked any different to other children. Until one summer evening in 1960, when his cousin Buddy taunted him with the odd truth of their family: Madeline was not really Mac's sister, but his father's first wife. A terrible accident had left her brain-damaged, with the intellect of a seven-year-old. When his father remarried, Madeline became part of his new family, devotedly cared for by his second wife like one of their own children. In 2003, Mac, now a middle-aged doctor, attends the funeral of Buddy's son, killed in Iraq. There, the divisions that drove two branches of their family apart are brought sharply into focus: on one side, belligerently liberal doves, on the other, defiantly patriotic hawks. Also revealed is the impact of Madeline's tragedy on the family, how it has shaped and altered forever the boundaries of love. In this moving story that follows one American family over several decades of wars fought on foreign soil, Jane Hamilton, with her usual humour and keen observation of family relationships, deftly explores notions of innocence and experience, loyalty and betrayal, sacrifice and devotion.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 128 x 190 x 28mm | 240.4g
  • Transworld Publishers Ltd
  • Black Swan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0552773670
  • 9780552773676
  • 747,594

About Jane Hamilton

Jane Hamilton is the author of The Book of Ruth, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction and A Map of the World, both selected for Oprah Winfrey's influential book club. Her most recent novels are The Short History of a Prince, shortlisted for the Orange Prize, Disobedience and When Madeline Was Young. She lives with her husband and children on an apple farm in Wisconsin.show more

Review quote

"Jane Hamilton's trademark milieu is the ordinary American family, elevated to an almost epic nobility. Her fifth novel continues this tradition, with the rising bodycount in war providing the topical backdrop to an examination of the notions of devotion and sacrifice." SEVEN magazine, Sunday Telegraph "Exquisite ... this carefully nuanced tale has the texture and discursive quality of a memoir, in which the narrator deciphers family secrets by reflecting on pivotal moments from the past." Wall Street Journal "A beautifully crafted and many-layered novel." Waterstones Books Quarterly "A wonderful novel, having an extraordinary scope, taking a strange family tale and situating it in the context of the United States' role in Vietnam and then in Iraq ... homely and ambitious at the same time." Sunday Express "A vital and absorbing human drama ... her most distinguished work so far, a story in which tragedy is balanced brilliantly against the consolations and pleasures of ordinary life ... only a writer as skilful as Hamilton could produce a work so revelatory of the human spirit." Washington Postshow more

Review Text

"Exquisite . . . this carefully nuanced tale has the texture and discursive quality of a memoir, in which the narrator deciphers family secrets by reflecting on pivotal moments from the past."show more

Back cover copy

Orange Prize shortlisted author of The Short History of a Prince and A Map of the World 'Jane Hamilton is the chronicler of family relationships; the cartographer of the human heart' Observer To Mac, despite her mature body, his tall sister Madeline never looked any different to other children. Until one summer evening when his cousin Buddy taunted him with the odd truth of their family: Madeline was not really Mac's sister, but his father's first wife. A terrible accident had left her brain-damaged, with the intellect of a seven-year-old. When his father remarried, she became part of his new family, devotedly cared for by his second wife like one of their own. It is the impact of Madeline's tragedy on the family for several decades, and how it shapes and alters forever the boundaries of love, that drives this moving story told with Jane Hamilton's irresistible humour and keen insight. 'A vital and absorbing human drama...her most distinguished work so far' Washington Post 'Hamilton affirms her status as one of our most magnetic and provocative novelists' Chicago Tribuneshow more

Rating details

2,128 ratings
3.16 out of 5 stars
5 8% (180)
4 28% (589)
3 41% (877)
2 17% (368)
1 5% (114)
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