History of the Rain

History Of The Rain

“We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling. In Faha, County Clare, everyone is a long story…”

Bedbound in her attic room beneath the falling rain, in the margin between this world and the next, Plain Ruth Swain is in search of her father. To find him, enfolded in the mystery of ancestors, Ruthie must first trace the jutting jaw lines, narrow faces and gleamy skin of the Swains from the restless Reverend Swain, her great-grandfather, to grandfather Abraham, to her father, Virgil – via pole-vaulting, leaping salmon, poetry and the three thousand, nine hundred and fifty eight books piled high beneath the two skylights in her room, beneath the rain.

The stories – of her golden twin brother Aeney, their closeness even as he slips away; of their dogged pursuit of the Swains’ Impossible Standard and forever falling just short; of the wild, rain-sodden history of fourteen acres of the worst farming land in Ireland – pour forth in Ruthie’s still, small, strong, hopeful voice. A celebration of books, love and the healing power of the imagination, this is an exquisite, funny, moving novel in which every sentence sings. 

Reviews

“This is an important new book and, without spoiling the riveting last chapter next Friday, the rewards increase tenfold the further into the story one gets”

– Book at Bedtime, Radio Times

“A rambling, soft-hearted Irish family saga stuffed with eccentricity, literature, anecdotes, mythology, humour and heartbreak from the author of Four Letters of Love”

– Kirkus

“Extremely moving, poignantly capturing Ruth’s doomed childhood relationship with her twin brother. By the final chapter I was weeping”

– Sunday Times

“Williams’ poetic prose meanders from page to page and becomes one with her voice in a poignant story about family, identity, love and loss, pain, faith and hope”

– Monocle

“Extremely funny and clever, and packed with beautiful imagery. This is a brave and wildly imaginative novel, that certainly stands out in a genre of its own”

– Western Mail

"This is a book about rain. It is also about rivers; and about salmon and families and love and poetry. Or maybe it is about Impossible Aspirations, complete with capital letters. Move over, Flann O'Brien; you have been sitting on your own for far too long. Here is a fellow Dubliner exiled to the country, living in a place called Kiltumper.It is unfair to other novelists that they have to compete against writing of this quality."

- Sydney Morning Herald

"Destined to be a classic, History of the Rain isn't just the elegy Ruthie offers to the departed but also a love letter to reading and its life-giving powers. [Ruthie's] voice and narrative remain utterly unique even as she invites comparisons to Jim Hawkins, Ishmael, and hosts of legendary literary narrators."

- Library Journal, starred review

"You can smell the peat burning and feel the ever-present mist in acclaimed Irish novelist Williams’ luscious paean to all who lose themselves in books. Williams captures the awe and all of Ireland—its myths and mysteries, miseries and magic—through the pitch-perfect voice of a saucily defiant young woman who has witnessed too much tragedy but who clings devotedly to those she’s lost."

- Booklist, starred review

"History of the Rain is charming, wise and beautiful. It is a love letter to Ireland in all its contradictions, to literature and poetry and family. It acknowledges that faith itself is a paradox, both impossible and necessary. And faith carries this novel--faith that stories can save us, that love endures, that acceptance is within reach, and finally, that it is possible to get to the other side of grief."

- Shelf Awareness
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