On Reading ‘Amongst Women’

Astute reading of ‘Amongst Women’ by John McGahern, as interpreted by blogger ‘Analogue Humanist’

Chris Beausang

When reading Amongst Women (1990), it occurred to me how different a character the family patriarch Moran would have been in the hands of a less skilled novelist than John McGahern. Moran is an authoritarian. He is suspicious and defensive around the men his daughters choose as husbands. His oppressive temper is cited by his sons as their reasons for leaving the household and his daughters and wife indulge him throughout his life as if he were their child, negotiating his explosive temper in order to maintain some semblance of order in the household.

One can imagine this hypothetical unskilled novelist holding Moran up as a punching bag or an easy target for irony, particularly at one point towards the end of the novel when he initiates the family tradition of saying the rosary together. (The rosary tradition is generally more of an opportunity for Moran to showcase his authority…

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