Synopses & Reviews
A stunning new novel from the author of the beloved The Monk Downstairs
hailed by critics and readers alike as "captivating" and "enthralling" (Books & Culture
) and "tender [and] witty" (New York Times Book Review
Elizabeth O'Reilly, the wife of a career Marine Corps officer and mother of four children (with one on the way), finds herself at odds with just about everything in her life. Having seen her husband off to Vietnam, she's left to contend with her own desires and yearnings trying to care for her children while longing to pick up the theater career she abandoned for the demands of motherhood.
Liz finds solace in a friendship with Father Ezekiel Germaine, a war veteran and eccentric priest with an appreciation for irony, and in the wary camaraderie of Betty Simmons, another military housewife, whose cocktails help Liz take the edge off.
While Liz struggles with the vicissitudes oflife on the home front, her husband, Captain Michael O'Reilly, commands an infantry company in Vietnam. Mike has no illusions about the glamour and glory of war; he is a man who understands the meaning of fighting for his country and has made his peace with it for better and for worse.
In the end, though, it is Lizzie's war. And it is Liz O'Reilly, a complex woman wrestling with conflicting commitments, loyalties, and sympathies, who is the heart of the novel. Beginning with the Detroit riots in the summer of 1967 and ending on Labor Day weekend, 1968, Lizzie's War is a vivid chronology of that watershed time in America intertwined with the personal histories of the O'Reilly family. Portraying the ravages of war as well as the dark humor of a soldier navigating life in the trenches, the clash of a mother's everyday duties with her unspoken desires, and the age-old conflict between God and humanity, Lizzie's War is an unforgettable family epic. What also emerges is a genuine love story. Liz O'Reilly and her unexpected war will linger long after the last page is turned.
"Liz and Mike O'Reilly's marriage weathers the Vietnam War in Farrington's fourth novel (after The Monk Downstairs), a well-crafted but somewhat timeworn story about a military family's stoicism in the field and on the home front. Capt. Michael O'Reilly, USMC, ships out from Okinawa for Da Nang, while back home in Detroit, where the streets are afire from the 1967 riots, a pregnant Liz struggles alone to raise their four children. Mike is 'turned toward battle like a plant toward the sun,' but Liz quietly curses the Marine Corp and draws on hidden reserves of strength to be a good Catholic wife and mother. As commander of a beleaguered company in Vietnam, Mike is badly wounded and further strains the marriage when he returns to combat instead of coming home. Meanwhile, a near miscarriage in her third trimester almost costs Liz her life, but she decides to keep the baby rather than guarantee her own survival. Farrington's graceful prose moves the engaging narrative along at a brisk clip, but tough, noble Mike and tough, big-hearted Liz remain mired in type. The result is a compassionate but unambitious novel about enduring marital love and family ties during wartime from an author who was willing to take greater risks in his earlier works. Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This is a work of deep humanity; its poetry and humor are added bonuses."
Lorna Landvik, author of Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons and Oh My Stars
"A touching love story....Lizzie is smart, funny, acerbic, and lovable. Her story shot straight to my heart." Lolly Winston, author of Good Grief
"Farrington has woven such an idyllic family unit that nothing can undermine it....smooth writing, honest characters...."
"Poetic and tender...Farrington beautifully braids together an American soldiers view of the Vietnam War, a study of his struggling wife and children, and an introspective look at a Catholic priest questioning his faith." Library Journal
"Farrington is a natural-born storyteller...A memorable family story told with wry humor and fluent prose." Booklist
"Featuring scenes from the home front as well as Southeast Asia, Farringtons family epic is compelling, honest, and poignant." Pages Magazine
Set during the Vietnam War, this unforgettable family epic portrays both the ravages of war and the dark humor of a soldier navigating life in the trenches, the entanglement of a mother's everyday duties with her
About the Author
Tim Farrington is the author of the New York Times Notable Book and Book Sense Top Ten pick, The Monk Downstairs, as well as the critically acclaimed novels Blues for Hannah and The California Book of the Dead. He has also written a crime novel, Love in All the Wrong Places, under the name Frank Devlin. He lives in Virginia.