Published on July 23rd, 20140
History of the Rain by Niall Williams
Blurb: Bedbound in her attic room beneath the falling rain, in the margin between this world and the next, Plain Ruth Swain is in search of her father. To find him, enfolded in the mystery of ancestors, Ruthie must first trace the jutting jaw lines, narrow faces and gleamy skin of the Swains from the restless Reverend Swain, her great-grandfather, to grandfather Abraham, to her father, Virgil – via pole-vaulting, leaping salmon, poetry and the three thousand, nine hundred and fifty eight books piled high beneath the two skylights in her room, beneath the rain. The stories – of her golden twin brother Aeney, their closeness even as he slips away; of their dogged pursuit of the Swains’ Impossible Standard and forever falling just short; of the wild, rain-sodden history of fourteen acres of the worst farming land in Ireland – pour forth in Ruthie’s still, small, strong, hopeful voice. A celebration of books, love and the healing power of the imagination, this is an exquisite, funny, moving novel in which every sentence sings.
Vanessa Berridge, The Daily Express
“Ruth switches back and forth between the generations in her narrative, with multiple digressions, her book “a river narrative” and her “chosen style The Meander”.”
Catherine Taylor, The Guardian
“Ruth’s voice, by contrast with her condition, is spiky, sardonic and precocious. As she proudly explains, she has a tendency to use capital letters, in common with her heroine Emily Dickinson: “I have had Something Amiss, Something Puzzling and We’re Not Sure Yet”. But if her declarative style quickly becomes cloying, the story is pure eccentric entertainment.”