History of the Rain

History of the Rain Longlisted for the Man Booker PrizeWe are our stories We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling That s how it seems to me being alive for a little while th

  • Title: History of the Rain
  • Author: Niall Williams
  • ISBN: 9781620407707
  • Page: 438
  • Format: Paperback
  • Longlisted for the 2014 Man Booker PrizeWe are our stories We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling That s how it seems to me, being alive for a little while, the teller and the told.So says Ruthie Swain The bedridden daughter of a dead poet, home from college after a collapse Something Amiss, the doctors say , she is trying to fiLonglisted for the 2014 Man Booker PrizeWe are our stories We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling That s how it seems to me, being alive for a little while, the teller and the told.So says Ruthie Swain The bedridden daughter of a dead poet, home from college after a collapse Something Amiss, the doctors say , she is trying to find her father through stories and through generations of family history in County Clare the Swains have the written stories, from salmon fishing journals to poems, and the maternal MacCarrolls have the oral and through her own writing with its Superabundance of Style Ruthie turns also to the books her father left behind, his library transposed to her bedroom and stacked on the floor, which she pledges to work her way through while she s still living.In her attic room, with the rain rushing down the windows, Ruthie writes Ireland, with its weather, its rivers, its lilts, and its lows The stories she uncovers and recounts bring back to life multiple generations buried in this soil and they might just bring her back into the world again, too.

    One thought on “History of the Rain”

    1. "As It Is in Heaven", was so enjoyable, I wanted to return to another Niall Williams novel - sooner - rather than later. "History of the Rain", is extraordinary-phenomenal-brilliant!!! WOW!! - just WOW!!!A young girl name Ruth Swain, an Irish girl, lies in bed sick.( we never know what she has), but is surrounded by books - around 3,000 books - which she inherited by her father. Throughout the story, books are dropped like rain. I was marking books I haven't read and looking up books to familiar [...]

    2. “We tell stories. We tell stories to pass the time, to leave the world for a while, or go more deeply into it. We tell stories to heal the pain of living.” In prose that sings the songs of falling rain, of ancestors, of family hovering in that place “in between” this life and the next, of the beauty of the land that is Ireland, of the salmon that swim the Shannon, and of poetry, surrounded by her father’s thousands of books inside, the beauty of words on every page. ”We are our stori [...]

    3. A novel of beauty and grace, showing again that Niall Williams is more than a writer, he is a composer who elicits music from the magical combination of letters we know as words. Young Ruth Swain has returned home from university to convalesce in her attic bedroom, where the rain of Co. Clare pours ceaselessly on the two windows above her head, and three thousand, nine hundred and fifty eight volumes of classic prose and poetry surround her in teetering stacks. Her father is gone and Ruth seeks [...]

    4. I picked up History of the Rain after reading the review by my good GR friend Terri. I am indebted to her for bringing the novel to my attention. Plain Ruth Swain is one of the most appealing characters I have met in a long time. There is nothing plain about Ruth, in my opinion, as she writes in her “still, small, strong, hopeful voice.” Confined to her bed and with her golden twin already slipped away from her, she is a reader. Like many of the infirm, she views the world from a different v [...]

    5. "There's a book inside you. There's a library inside me."I woke up thinking about this novel, and I almost regret dedicating my morning to finishing it. But sometimes a story begs to be devoured.Sometimes, you can tell an author is a devout reader through their writing. Niall Williams clearly is one of these types, based on History of the Rain. So, of course, I love him the more for it. This is a story of family, history, love, tragedy, Ireland, and books. And it's probably my favorite Man Booke [...]

    6. I would give that six stars if I could. It was perfect. I loved the watery theme, the rain , the rivers, the salmon, even the mud and the floods. The descriptions of Ireland were spot on and some of the observations of the people were laugh aloud funny. I found Ruth to be an endearing heroine and loved all the other main characters as well. At times it was a sad book, at other times it was hopeful and uplifting. It was full to the brim with literary references as well as current day politics and [...]

    7. Oh my god, this book makes me so angry because if you just cut out the repetitive, far too long, cloying middle 80 pages or so where he shows his hand over and over so insistently that I can't help but look at it, it's a gorgeous, gorgeous talented thing full of pain and life and love and erudition and things put just so. I'm really pissed off that this author over indulged and threw me out of the narrative by telling me how clever he was again and again and getting maudlin about how Irish peopl [...]

    8. This book is d-e-p-r-e-s-s-i-n-g! Must it be SO depressing? It doesn't help that the end tries to close with a hopeful note. The book is about death and illness and how some people demand so much of themselves that they are doomed to fail. It is also about the importance of stories, our stories. There lies the wisp of hope embedded in the book. There are some beautiful lines, lines that perceptively reveal human relationships and some of descriptive beauty. I did feel the drumming of the rain on [...]

    9. I contemplated leaving this book unfinished, but decided to stick it out. I can't say I'm glad I did, as the whole experience left me feeling a bit ambivalent.That surprises me because on paper I should like this book quite a bit - the story of a sick/dying girl reconnecting with her dead father through his library. But the story meanders quite a bit, and the author (or we can say narrator) Really Likes To Emphasize Ideas With Extra Capital Letters. This is something that is one of my top pet pe [...]

    10. "This, Dear Reader, is a river narrative. My chosen style is The Meander."Ruth Swain, 19 years old is lying ill in her attic bedroom in her big boat bed, hand built by her father, surrounded by the almost 4000 books belonging to her father, Virgil. She is watching the interminable Irish rain through her window and writing a history of her family.This is a wonderful, lyrical history of a family and their relationship with the river Shannon and the land beside it, 'the worst fourteen acres in Irel [...]

    11. I received a copy of this book for free through First Reads. Three quarters of the way through this book, I thought I knew what my review would say. I was going to tell you how "History of the Rain" by Niall Williams is one of the best books I've read; how I've never laughed so much during a book; how the characters pop up out of the page and add so much charm to the story; how reading just a few pages in the morning changed my day.Having now finished, most of the above is still true. The only [...]

    12. This is the most achingly beautiful book I have ever read. There is not one flaw and exceptional beauty. Niall Williams has created poetry out of words and created characters so real they will live on forever. The setting is Faha, Ireland where rain is the only constant. The main character is Ruth Swain, a girl who loves to read and vows to read her father's collection of 3,958 books in order to understand him. Ruth is sickly with a "blood disease" and spends her days in an attic room with skyli [...]

    13. Just as I was one of the 'right' readers for its fellow Booker longlister The Wake, I'm a wrong 'un for The History of the Rain - a book which is, so far, effusively well-loved on here. It's very, very Oirish: whimsy and tragedy and tragical whimsy, eccentric villagers and stone-filled fields and potato blight and poets who won't publish. Ireland is pretty enough but these things - or in some cases the manner in which they're written - just don't do it for me. (As with not liking any sort of bes [...]

    14. I've not finished this book yet, but I am tempted to a mid-read review, partly because I don't want it to end. It reminds me slightly of Ulysses except I am enjoying it; perhaps it reminds me of Dubliners. It also reminds me of John McGahern, but it might be that my sampling of Irish literature is too limited to come up with better comparisons. It's very funny, but the humour is soaked through and deepened with tragedy and lost opportunity and resignation, a mood here as perpetual as the rain th [...]

    15. Brilliant! Exquisite! Delightful! Pure Poetry! The best thing I've read so far this year!!!!"He had no intention of writing.  He loved reading, that was all.  And he read books that he thought so far beyond anything he himself could dream of achieving that any thought of writing instantly evaporated into the certainty of failure. " -Niall WilliamsI don't often covet the gift of writing either. Mostly I'm content  just to be a reader of books as well, though reading this one made me wish I was [...]

    16. It's a little depressing to see so many reviews lauding the grace of this book's writing. It's kind of bad writing! In truth, it uses a pretty formulaic trick to evoke resonance and meaning: overwrought run-on sentences interspersed with smirking, percussive declarations. Pleading, plaintive, frankly embarrassing jumbles of words followed up with overconfident Joss Whedonisms. Read the damn thing again and you'll see. The offense is not absolved by our narrator repeatedly acknowledging her tend [...]

    17. These words are from writer 'Niall Williams' of the book 'History of the Rain'. Almost two years ago.Dear Ravi, Greetings from a deep dark and starry night in County Clare. Thank you for your email about my novel 'History of the Rain.' It is a wonderful thing that a book written here in the wind and rain of the Atlantic coast of Ireland can reach a reader in India. I am greatly touched by your taking the time to let me know that you enjoyed the novel. Best wishes from IrelandNiall Yes without a [...]

    18. A very beautiful if imperfect book. Is it a cliche to call an Irish book lyrical? Well, this one is. It's a wistful, tender family saga rooted in a dreamily rain-soaked Irish riverside landscape. It's also sometimes quite funny, as Williams' linguistic creativity bounces off the walls and into various phenomena of contemporary culture (particularly those associated with the Great Recession - the Bust, as he calls it). I found it quite absorbing and was prepared to be blown away at the beginning. [...]

    19. I sometimes go back and forth while reading a book, changing my star ratings as I proceed. This stellar novel was easy--it was a 5-star journey all the way. If I was forced to use only one word to describe this novel, it would definitely be "Irish." It is so Irish that I could hear fiddle music and Irish brogue, taste the whiskey, and feel the warmth and charm of the characters as I read. It is narrated by a wonderful narrator, a sickly Irish woman in her 20s. It is mostly about the life of her [...]

    20. Ruth is the most likeable narrator I have come across in years. It is impossible for anyone who loves books not to fall in love with her and her quest to understand her dead father through the books he read and collected. The story meanders a bit, but to my ears it added a conversational tone that drew me in. There is a saccharine quality to it, and the narrative is full of hyperboles , yet the voice remains fresh and not once I heard a cliché. The end, maybe too optimistic, made me consider lo [...]

    21. Ruth Swain is home from college very ill and lying in a rainy old attic in County Clare Ireland amongst her father's thousands of books and reading them to better understand her father and her other ancestors. She frequently describes what's going on around her among the villagers and her family by using characters from books or references from them citing the book title. There is never much explanation given for why certain books or characters fit certain instances , so if you're not up on your [...]

    22. We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling. That's how it seems to me, being alive for a little while, the teller and the told.History of the Rain (Book 3959, Bloomsbury, New York) is a quirky kind of book with lyrical Irishness, circular storytelling, poetic narrative, a wise-cracking protagonist, and my God, the rain. It had me rereading sentences and paragraphs to savour the words (sometimes to decipher the meaning), and in two differen [...]

    23. This is the most poetically written book I've ever readd I'm a BIG reader!Niall Williams makes language as important to the book as its characters or story.I don't like reviews that tell the whole content of a novel, so I won't be guiltyof that here. To any reader who loves the way a book is written as well as its"truth." I would highly recommend this one.I'm a huge fan of John Banville, Mavis Gallant, Jane Gardam to give a small idea of mytaste.

    24. Absolutely incredible. This is the best book I've read in a long time. I laughed and cried and couldn't put it down. Niall williams writes beautifully, and completely draws you into not only the story but the beauty of the written word as well. This is a book whose story will stay with you long after you turn the last page, and I will definitely be checking out his other works.

    25. Niall Williams writes like an angel - if angels were writers - and he has created a narrator, Ruth Swain, who narrates like an angel - if angels were narrators.History of the Rain is an ode to the imagination, and to storytelling, and to books, and to reading, and to Ireland, and to what it means to live. That's a lot of to's, but they're all in there.

    26. My love for this novel is so intense right now that I am devoid of all words. Feel free to imagine me singing or gesticulating wildly. A proper review will follow when I stop hyperventilating and recover the power of speech.

    27. 'We tell stories. We tell stories to pass the time, or go more deeply into it. We tell stories to heal the pain of living.'This is a book about stories, about retelling and the importance of books in the lives of the readers, about finding answers in the pages of books, in poetry, in the flowing of the river, as the salmon does, upcurrent.Ruth is a teenaged narrator, telling the story of her family. The first one is her grandfather Reverend Swain and the 'Impossible Standard' he sets for himself [...]

    28. I have mixed feelings about this book. When I first started reading it, the writing style just irritated me and I didn't really feel like I was going to like it. It seemed like I was having to work to figure out exactly what was being said and that took away from my enjoyment of the story. Also the capitalization of it seemed like EVERYTHING and the constant habit of not just mentioning other books but listing the name of, number place (in her dad's pile), author, publisher etcc.just really drov [...]

    29. This for me is the first disappointing book by Niall Williams. I wanted to like it. I have read six of his works, three of which were fiction. One of his novels, "Four Letters of Love," is worthy of accolades and among the best works of contemporary literature I have ever read. Plus, as someone who has visited Ireland five times, including to Williams's County Clare, I love anything from what I consider a second home.More significantly, "History of the Rain" is a literary-inspired novel that exp [...]

    30. This is my newest "favorite book!" I rarely give a rating of 5 to my books, but as I closed the cover of The History of Rain, I was looking for a 6 (or 8 or 10!) on my page. I had just finished two "OK" books, in which I found myself skimming, so what a delight it was to now read slowly and carefully to savor every well-chosen word. I often went back to re-read sentences and paragraphs; the writing is so beautiful! If this had not been a library book, I may have worn out a highlighter. Niall Wi [...]

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