Ask Again, Yes
Mary Beth Keane
Mr B's review
Two Irish-American families living as neighbours on a sleepy suburban street. A childhood romance. A tragedy that reverberates over generations. Ask Again, Yes is a timely, emotionally resonant novel about mental health and the origins of life’s fracture points, about love and inheritance, and about the power of redemption and forgiveness, undiluted by decades.
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER & RADIO 2 SUMMER BOOK CLUB PICK
A PRIMA BOOK OF THE YEAR!
‘A MUST-READ FOR OUR TIME’ Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women
‘THE NEW LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE’ Stylist
A gripping and compassionate drama of two families linked by chance, love and tragedy
Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours.
Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone.
It’s left to their children – Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all.
A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later . . .
A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood – villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so.
A story of how, if we’re lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.
If you enjoy Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout and Ann Patchett you will love this stunning novel.
‘Keane is a nuanced observer’ The Sunday Times
‘A remarkable achievement’ Sunday Express
‘Has the makings of a future classic’ Daily Mirror
‘It’s an absolute stunner, an ode to family and forgiveness that has been crafted with compassion and insight’ Sara Collins, author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton
‘Both thoughtful and powerful’ Hannah Beckerman, i News
‘I absolutely adored Ask Again, Yes’ Liane Moriarty, author of Big Little Lies
‘Powerful and moving’ Meg Wolitzer, author of The Wife
‘Full of life lessons’ BBC Radio 4 Open Book
‘One of my best books of the year’ Prima
‘A beautiful novel, bursting at the seams with empathy’ Elle
With the author’s deftness of touch, characters are rendered as real as those you encounter in daily life, and it’s hard not to think about them even after reading the last pages * Connaught Telegraph * Fans of Celeste Ng will love this modern American novel based on two families linked by tragedy and passion . . . A lovely mix of childhood memories growing in to adulthood, and its really powerful * Stellar * I adored this book. I sank completely into the world of this novel and loved being there from beginning to end. Ask Again, Yes reminds us that after happily-ever-after comes the grit and grief of everyday love: in-laws, illnesses, betrayals and, scariest of all, the flaws that each partner will uncover in the other. It’s an absolute stunner, an ode to family and forgiveness that has been crafted with compassion and insight * Sara Collins, bestselling author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton * A thought-provoking read exploring mental illness, alcoholism and violence * Candis * A miniature epic . . . like Elizabeth Strout, Keane is good at creating distinctive characters – flawed, empathetic men and women whose inner landscapes she captures in powerful, pared-down prose. The novel is a nuanced portrait of the impact of mental illness and addiction, the limitations and endurance of love and of how ‘we repeat what we don’t repair’ * Belfast Telegraph * Poignant and powerful * Image * Mary Beth Keane draws two families in sharp, moving detail . . . With hints of Curtis Sittenfeld about it – the way it effortlessly unspools years, but buffets you with a huge amount of detail – it considers friendship and mental ill health, how love changes and warps, and despite a fairly slow start, does so beautifully * The Herald * A powerful tale of two neighbouring families forever entwined by love and tragedy. . . A touching read * Woman’s Weekly * 10 new books to read this August * SheerLuxe * An Updikean epic of intertwined families destabilized by grief and estrangement following a mother’s breakdown, then redeemed by their enduring compassion for one another * Best Books by Women Summer 2019, OPRAH Magazine * One of the most unpretentiously profound books I’ve read in a long time . . . As a writer, Keane reminds me a lot of Ann Pratchett; Both have the magical ability to seem to be telling “only” a closely-observed domestic tale that transforms into something else deep and, yes, universal. In Keane’s case, that “something else” is a story about forgiveness and acceptance – qualities that sound gooey, but are so hard to achieve in life . . . Modestly magnificent * Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air * A gut-wrenching tale centered around the families of two rookie, next-door neighbor NYPD cops and a tragedy that reverberates over four decades. The book revolves around the bond between their children, the daily intimacies of marriage and the power of forgiveness * Good Morning America Summer Reads * An immersive read about family secrets and redemption — Alice O’Keefe * Editor’s Choice, Bookseller * Displaying impressive reach . . . Keane delivers an epic of domestic emotional turmoil . . . Tender and patient, the novel avoids excessive sweetness while planting itself deep in the soil of commitment and attachment. Graceful and mature. A solidly satisfying, immersive read * Kirkus, starred review * A rare example of propulsive storytelling infused with profound insights about blame, forgiveness and abiding love * People * Keane draws two families in sharp, moving detail, effortlessly peeling back decades of history to look at friendship, mental health, and the changing and sometimes warped face of love * Sunday Post * Family ties are stretched to breaking point in the baking hot New York summer of 1973 . . . A book that’s full of life lessons for people in a particular stage of their lives * Mariella Frostrup, BBC Radio 4 Open Book * Fans of Liane Moriarty, meet your new favourite author * Red * An explosive study of family dynamics . . . moving and thought-provoking . . . a gripping family saga that tackles mental illness and addiction and explores how childhood can inescapably shape the future * Daily Express * A candidate for one of my best books of the year. I savoured every word of this eloquent, lyrical novel, which explores how the secrets that families carry can effect future generations . . . I was swept up in the drama * Prima * If tense family dramas are your thing, you’ll love this. I found this story hugely engrossing and the characters so well-drawn, I became completely invested in their lives * Good Housekeeping * A story with real heart – moving and subtle and often very touching * Literary Review * A captivating, authentic and intricately-woven story . . . Immensely affecting, this book poses big questions. Can we ever escape our history? Are we prisoners of our bloodlines? Ultimately, this book is an examination of love – familial and romantic. It is an epic story, quietly told. And it is all the better for that * Irish Sunday Independent * A powerful tale * Woman & Home * A beautiful novel, bursting at the seams with empathy * Elle * A shocking tragedy turns what had been a portrait of domestic tension into a profound story of trauma and blame. Keane’s gracefully restrained prose gives her characters dignity * Vogue * Keane takes on one of the most difficult problems in fiction – how to write about human decency . . . a compelling case for compassion over blame, understanding over grudge, and the resilience of hearts that can accept the contradictions of love * Louise Erdrich, National book award winning author of The Round House * Leaves one shaking one’s head in frank admiration. A triumph * Matthew Thomas, bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves * One of the most exceptional novels of the summer . . . Has the makings of a future classic * Daily Mirror * Powerful and moving . . . Mary Beth Keane is a writer of extraordinary depth, feeling and wit. Readers will love this book, as I did * Meg Wolitzer, bestselling author of The Female Persuasion * A novel of great compassion and understanding . . . rich with story * John Boyne, Irish Times * A pleasantly accessible novel that will be popular with book clubs . . . Keane is a nuanced observer * The Sunday Times * I absolutely adored Ask Again, Yes. I was only a few chapters in when I knew Mary Beth Keane was about to become one of my favourite authors. I’ll read everything she writes * Liane Moriarty * Compelling . . . it is neighbourly conflict, not love, that drives this quietly devastating story . . . There are multiple twists skilfully delivered. The novel raises a series of profound questions . . . [and] as an exploration of parent-child relationships, the novel is both thoughtful and powerful * Hannah Beckerman, i news * One of the most exceptional novels of the summer . . . Has the makings of a future classic. Keane’s prose is spare and elegant and she writes about mental illness and alcholism with compassion. It’s a remarkable achievement * Sunday Express * A wonderful novel about a lifetime of love . . . Focusing on a small cast over several decades allows Keane to explore universal themes: marriage, family, betrayal and forgiveness. Above all, what is a good life well lived? * Daily Mail * The new Little Fires Everywhere . . . Exploring mental health, grief, forgiveness and love, this conjures up the work of Celeste Ng and Anne Tyler – and we can’t give higher praise than that. The perfect summer read * Stylist * Stunning! An absolutely brilliant, gorgeously-written novel by a fearless writer. Ask Again, Yes is both haunting and hopeful, like life itself. It’s the consummate epic family story, one I can’t stop thinking and talking about. A must-read for our time * Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women *
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?