Keegan's literary allegiance is signalled in the first story in this collection, when we find the main character reading Chekhov. Like Chekhov, Keegan has the ability to sum up a life, or a significant chunk of one, in apparently trivial, quotidian events. In the title story, a priest is tormented by having to officiate at a marriage. Later, he meets an unlikely counterpart in a Chinese healer, and experiences a kind of epiphany. It sounds simple in summary, but it's the careful arrangement of events which gives the story its power.
"The Forester's Daughter" recounts the slow tragedy of a failed marriage. Keegan writes through every character – including the dog – with a clear-sighted sympathy for them all. There is as much food for thought here as in many a novel.
All the stories are set in rural Ireland. They tell of harsh, lonely lives, alleviated by drink or dreams, in a voice that is lyrical, thoughtful, but with a thick, dark strain of melancholy running through it.Reuse content