Synopses & Reviews
Lilly Bere, forced to flee Ireland with her fiance as a teenager under threat of death from the IRA, finds herself in America. Soon, her rich and tragic life takes her from Chicago, where her fiance is brutally murdered, to Cleveland, where she marries and finds happiness even as she survives the Great Depression and World War II. Joyfully pregnant at forty-three, Lilly moves to Washington, DC, after her husband mysteriously disappears, where she finds work as a cook for one of the most prominent families in the country. She follows the family to Bridgehampton, and there she raises her son, Ed, who at eighteen is called up to Vietnam and vanishes on his return to America. A close friend is dispatched to find him and returns from the Smoky Mountain wilderness not with Ed but with Ed's son, Bill, whom Lilly will raise and adore--until tragedy strikes.
From the two-time Man Booker short-listed author of The Secret Scripture comes a magnificent new novel that is the story of the twentieth century in America. Told in the first person, as a narrative of Lilly Bere's life over seventeen days, On Canaan's Side opens as Lilly mourns the loss of her grandson, Bill. Lilly revisits her past, going back to the moment she was forced to flee Ireland at the end of the First World War, and continues her tale in America, a world filled with both hope and danger. At once epic and intimate, Lilly's story unfolds as she tries to make sense of the sorrows and troubles of her life and of the people whose lives she has touched. Spanning nearly seven decades, from the Great Depression to World War II and the Vietnam War, it is the heartbreaking story of a woman whose capability to love is enormous and whose compassion, even for those who have wronged her, is astonishing.