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When Madeline Was Young

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When Madeline Was Young Cover

ISBN13: 9780385516716
ISBN10: 0385516711
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

When Aaron Maciver's beautiful young wife, Madeline, suffers brain damage in a bike accident, she is left with the intellectual powers of a seven-year-old. In the years that follow, Aaron and his second wife care for Madeline with deep tenderness and devotion as they raise two children of their own.

Narrated by Aaron's son Mac, When Madeline Was Young chronicles the Maciver family through the decades, from Mac's childhood growing up in Wisconsin with Madeline and his cousin Buddy, through the Vietnam War, his years as a husband with children of his own, and his cousin's involvement in the subsequent Gulf Wars. Jane Hamilton, with not only her usual keen observations of human relationships but also her humor, deftly explores the Macivers' unusual situation as she examines notions of childhood (through Mac and Buddy's actual youth as well as Madeline's infantilization) and a rivalry between Buddy's and Mac's families that spans decades and various wars. She captures the pleasures and frustrations of marriage and family and exposes the role that past relationships, rivalries, and regrets inevitably play in the lives of adults.

Inspired in part by Elizabeth Spencer's The Light in the Piazza, Hamilton offers an honest, exquisite portrait of how a family tragedy forever shapes and alters the boundaries of love.

Review:

"An unusual menage poses moral questions in this fifth novel (after Disobedience) from Hamilton, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for The Book of Ruth. Aaron and Julia Maciver are living in a 1950s Chicago suburb with their two children and with Aaron's first wife, Madeline. Aaron has insisted on caring for Madeline after she suffered a brain injury soon after their wedding, leaving her with the mental capacity of a seven-year-old. Refusing to consider this arrangement inconvenient, Julia treats the often-demanding Madeline like a beloved daughter, even letting her snuggle in bed with Aaron and herself when Madeline becomes distraught at night. Decades later, the Macivers' son, Mac, now a middle-aged family practitioner with a wife and teenage daughters, prepares to attend the funeral of his estranged cousin's son, killed in Iraq, and muses about the meaning, and the emotional costs, of the liberal values of his parents. Hamilton brings characteristic empathy to the complex issues at the core of this patiently built novel, but the narrative doesn't take any clear direction. Though Mac suggests there are 'gothic possibilities' in his parents' story (partly inspired, Hamilton says, by Elizabeth Spencer's The Light in the Piazza), the Macivers' passions remain tepid and unresolved, and Julia remains an enigma to her son." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Writers and readers, like rubbernecking drivers, are drawn to stories of misdeeds. Peril makes a plot interesting, and the ugly thrill of disaster is hard to resist. Yet the more difficult and perhaps more humane task is to locate the drama of the well-lived life, the mystery of the human soul inclined toward the theological notion of caritas, the Latin word meaning charitable kindness toward... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"In each surprising permutation, Hamilton offers fresh perspectives on the puzzles of time, memory, and consciousness, and keenly gauges the many shades of guilt and audacity, grief and sacrifice, tenacity and goodness." Booklist

Review:

"While Hamilton gives the political climate of the Sixties considerable attention, her story is more about how people, by bonding together, can transcend tragedy and loss with love, tolerance, and humor." Library Journal

Review:

"Hamilton is exquisitely observant and unfailingly generous to the characters she creates: every life has weight and dignity." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Hamilton...is extraordinarily adept in the construction of many-faceted narratives that shift and swing between past and present, and her latest mesmerizing novel is particularly well-designed." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"Unlike the past that so tragically eludes Madeline's overgrown innocence, Hamilton's new novel is not to be forgotten." USA Today

Review:

"Hamilton's characters are complex and vividly drawn, the dialogue pitch-perfect. The author has a gift for telling detail and wry asides." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Synopsis:

When Aaron Macivers wife, Madeline, suffers brain damage in a bike accident, she is left with the intellectual powers of a seven-year-old. In the years that follow, Aaron and his second wife care for her, in this exquisite portrait of how a family tragedy forever shapes and alters the boundaries of love.

About the Author

Jane Hamilton is the author of The Book of Ruth, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction, A Map of the World, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and named one of the top ten books of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, the Miami Herald, and People magazine; Disobedience; and The Short History of a Prince. She lives in Rochester, Wisconsin.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

susanp-1, May 8, 2007 (view all comments by susanp-1)
This involving, easy-to-read book seemed so current to me with all the political dialogue, metally handicapped characters and awkward famiy dynamics. Mac was a perfect interpreter of events and feelings due to his own sensitivity. I enjoyed it very much and must disagree with several reviews I read calling it overloaded with characters and plots. Jane Hamilton is a brilliant observer of people and this novel proves it.
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(4 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
Anne Friedman, October 8, 2006 (view all comments by Anne Friedman)
I loved this book. It's a loving portrait of a complicated family. Hamilton also comments on the Vietnam and the Iraq wars without beating you over the head with her feelings. It was a great pleasure to read.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385516716
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Hamilton, Jane
Publisher:
Doubleday
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Sagas
Subject:
People with mental disabilities
Publication Date:
20060919
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9.3 x 6 x 1.2 in 1.2006 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

When Madeline Was Young Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Doubleday Books - English 9780385516716 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "An unusual menage poses moral questions in this fifth novel (after Disobedience) from Hamilton, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for The Book of Ruth. Aaron and Julia Maciver are living in a 1950s Chicago suburb with their two children and with Aaron's first wife, Madeline. Aaron has insisted on caring for Madeline after she suffered a brain injury soon after their wedding, leaving her with the mental capacity of a seven-year-old. Refusing to consider this arrangement inconvenient, Julia treats the often-demanding Madeline like a beloved daughter, even letting her snuggle in bed with Aaron and herself when Madeline becomes distraught at night. Decades later, the Macivers' son, Mac, now a middle-aged family practitioner with a wife and teenage daughters, prepares to attend the funeral of his estranged cousin's son, killed in Iraq, and muses about the meaning, and the emotional costs, of the liberal values of his parents. Hamilton brings characteristic empathy to the complex issues at the core of this patiently built novel, but the narrative doesn't take any clear direction. Though Mac suggests there are 'gothic possibilities' in his parents' story (partly inspired, Hamilton says, by Elizabeth Spencer's The Light in the Piazza), the Macivers' passions remain tepid and unresolved, and Julia remains an enigma to her son." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "In each surprising permutation, Hamilton offers fresh perspectives on the puzzles of time, memory, and consciousness, and keenly gauges the many shades of guilt and audacity, grief and sacrifice, tenacity and goodness."
"Review" by , "While Hamilton gives the political climate of the Sixties considerable attention, her story is more about how people, by bonding together, can transcend tragedy and loss with love, tolerance, and humor."
"Review" by , "Hamilton is exquisitely observant and unfailingly generous to the characters she creates: every life has weight and dignity."
"Review" by , "Hamilton...is extraordinarily adept in the construction of many-faceted narratives that shift and swing between past and present, and her latest mesmerizing novel is particularly well-designed."
"Review" by , "Unlike the past that so tragically eludes Madeline's overgrown innocence, Hamilton's new novel is not to be forgotten."
"Review" by , "Hamilton's characters are complex and vividly drawn, the dialogue pitch-perfect. The author has a gift for telling detail and wry asides."
"Synopsis" by , When Aaron Macivers wife, Madeline, suffers brain damage in a bike accident, she is left with the intellectual powers of a seven-year-old. In the years that follow, Aaron and his second wife care for her, in this exquisite portrait of how a family tragedy forever shapes and alters the boundaries of love.

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