Academy Street by Mary Costello

Academy Street

Mary Costello

This poignant life story spanning six decades, from the backward rural West of Ireland in the 1940s to lively New York in the nineties, was a BBC Book at Bedtime. The understated yet evocative character study conveys the melancholy of unfulfilled promise and regret, without being sentimental and is worth reading for the beautiful prose style alone.

Extract

Slowly, in the months that followed, Tess tuned to the frequency of the city, to the accents and the street-grid and the subway, to the black faces on the sidewalk, the sirens at night, the five-and-ten-cent stores teeming with goods, and buildings that rose up daily from gaps in the streets. The new words too – pocket-book, meatloaf, lima beans, Jell-O. The taste of coffee, the clothes so lovely and cheap and slim-fitting. The abundance of everything.

Parallels
  • Someone by Alice McDermott
  • Brooklyn by Colum Toibin
  • Anything by Maeve Brennan