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THE BIRDS OF THE INNOCENT WOOD by Deirdre Madden (Faber & Faber: $7.95)

September 24, 1989|CHARLES SOLOMON

It's easy to understand why this brief, melancholy first novel received such high praise in the author's native Ireland: Deirdre Madden is a subtle, intelligent writer who never wastes words. Her spare prose demands the reader's complete attention, as the way in which a character turns a phrase may reveal a significant change in his thoughts. A lonely farm on the shores of a lough provides the setting for the story of the intertwining secrets in two unhappy family histories and the rediscovery of faith and love, which run through the gray lives of these farmers, like veins of ore through baser rocks.

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