Synopses & Reviews
Was It Beautiful?
is a spare, powerful, and tender portrayal of loss and renewal at midlife. With singular grace and humor, Alison McGhee pays loving attention to the details of life in the Adirondacks and to the small kindnesses and idiosyncrasies that make each member of a community precious and unique.
Until recently, William T. Jones was the happiest man in upstate New York, a self-proclaimed king of the world who laughed loudly and often. He had a life he was proud of, including a long-standing marriage, a fine, spirited grown son, and ownership of the farm in the north woods where his family had lived for generations.
But in the past year his life has become almost unrecognizable to him. He watched, powerless, while his musically gifted twenty-seven-year-old son, William J., lost first his hearing and then his life. Reeling with this double tragedy, William T. has withdrawn almost completely, and it looks as though his marriage and his job will be the next things to go. In fact, he has begun to wonder whether his own life is worth continuing. But like it or not, William T. is not alone and the people around him wont let him slip away so easily. They are watching over him, as patient and constant as the stars in the night sky, and as he awakens to their gentle strength, he sees that they too have suffered tremendously and that the time has come to reconcile what has been lost and what may yet be saved.
"McGhee's portrait of a father's impenetrable grief, and a small community's attempt to break through it, is gracefully wrought, set against a frigid Adirondack winter that's no match for William T.'s emotional deep freeze." Publishers Weekly
"Hypnotic, wrenching, and powerful in its promise of hope in the face of impossible grief, this book reveals McGhee's extraordinary gift for nuanced simplicity." Library Journal
“Alison McGhees is a novel of simple explanations, simple movement, and Faulkners favorite, most ferocious question: Can we ever really know one another?”—Los Angeles Times
“McGhee has written a lovely and successful third novel. She brilliantly captures the close but guarded ties between residents of a grieving small town, and delivers dialogue with the uncommon and impressive mix of precision, poignancy, and believability.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“McGhee is a beautiful writer, especially in her sense of place and her precision in describing characters.” —Twin Cities Pioneer Press
“McGhee, author of the critically acclaimed novel Shadow Baby, portrays in spare and beautiful prose a setting and community that recall the cold, hard landscapes of Richard Russos fiction.” —Book Page
Was It Beautiful? is a powerful and tender portrayal of loss and renewal at midlife. With singular grace and humor, Alison McGhee pays loving attention to the details of life in the Adirondacks and to the small kindnesses and idiosyncrasies that make each member of a community precious and unique.
About the Author
Alison McGhee is the author of two previous novels. The first, Rainlight, won the 1999 Minnesota Book Award and was selected by Library Journal as one of the best first novels of 1998. The second, Shadow Baby, received rave reviews and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award in 2000. Her short fiction has been published widely in literary magazines. Born and raised in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, McGhee currently lives in Minnesota.