Alice flees her oppressive life in the U.S. to study at Trinity in the 1970s. Just as she finds contentment and develops her taste for Guinness, the Dublin bombings shatter her newfound feeling of security – as they did for many of us. From her all-American high school to an elite college, and then working in fashionable New York, this engrossing and brilliant story of Alice’s journey exemplifies the indelible mark our early experiences can leave on the rest of our lives.
- Recommended by Mary Burnham, Dubray Dun Laoghaire
`[Kennedy] possesses a Hitchcockian approach to this narrative hub; tension and twists are administered in equal measure . . . The ordinary becomes, through his careful plotting, extraordinary.' - Independent on Sunday
"All families are secret societies. Realms of intrigue and internal warfare, governed by their own rules . . ."
It's 1980s New York. Heady, excessive times. Alice Burns - a young book editor - is deep into a manuscript about the morass of family life. The observations resonates, perhaps because she has just watched her own family implode.
As she reads she wonders: When did the sadness start? And could it be that unhappiness is a choice?
Thus begins a great American epic which follows Alice as she navigates high school bullying, first love and sexism at an elite college, a spell in 1970's Ireland, and a tragedy that sends her stateside as the US embraces a cowboy actor named Reagan. But it is also the tale of her endlessly complex parents and brothers; how their destinies are written by the lies they tell themselves and others.
The Great Wide Open is an immensely ambitious and compulsive saga; a novel which will speak volumes to anyone who has marvelled at that pain that can only be caused by family itself.
`In his fast-paced, engrossing novels Douglas Kennedy always has his brilliant finger on the entertaining parts of human sorrow, fury, and narrow escapes.' - Lorrie Moore
`Kennedy's skill is to send you racing down the slope of sheer story.' - Esquire