Book: Family O'Shea by Stephen Hazlett
|5 stars, 2 reviews on Amazon|
Stephen Hazlettabout this book: Family O'Shea was my first published novel. I wrote chapter one in a burst of inspiration, but I really had no chapter two or anything else beyond a vague outline in my head. So I put it in a drawer, thinking that the rest would take shape before too long. And there in the drawer it sat while other things were happening in my writing life. Family O'Shea became a forgotten novel.
Fast forward twelve years and I picked it up again, the result of a happy accident. I read over what I'd written those years before and started revising. Chapters two and three took shape in my head before I was finished. After that, everything else came in a rush, and six weeks later I had the full novel, twenty-four chapters of a first draft completed. I started the editing process, which actually took longer than the six weeks of creating the book. Then it was published, my first real novel, with five more and a collection of stories to follow.
Family O'Shea is an imagined autobiography. I was entering middle age when I started writing it, and I knew the person I'd been twenty years before and how I had changed into the person I'd become. Then I tried to imagine the person I would be in thirty years, as an older man facing the end of his life. That was the idea, to write a story of the ways a man changes through the different periods of his life, told from the points of view of three characters, all of them representing the same person:
• A young man in his twenties who wants to go his own way in the world
• A middle-aged man, in mid-life-crisis
• An old man in his seventies, facing death
John O'Shea is the patriarch of the family, an Irishman who immigrated to the U.S. as a young man. He travels through life as a loner, loving women but loving his own private life more. He fathers two children with two different women, twenty years apart, and abandons both for his own secret self. Now, at seventy, he is dying and has his regrets over the life he lived. His two grown sons hardly know him. The younger son was abandoned by his father years before. Now, with dreams of becoming a serious writer of fiction, he lives off the old man but feels little for him but contempt. Meanwhile the elder son, who has never known his father and believes him to be dead, is trying to deal with the loss of his own youth. When he falls for a beautiful young woman sixteen years younger than he, his life begins to fall apart.
John, knowing he doesn't have long to live, hatches a plan to bring his two sons together. Reluctant at first, the sons finally agree to carry out the old man's wishes, and, in the process, gain a sense of family they never knew they had. They become the Family O'Shea that never was.
• An engaging tale: Stephen Hazlett has put together a compelling cast of characters, each of whom comes to life on the page. This book is recommended for any reader who enjoys being transported to another place and time through the eyes of true-to-life characters . . .Three generations of a Scottish/Irish/American family are brought together and each of them come out of the experience with a clearer picture of themselves and the meaning of family.
— NM reader – Amazon reviewer
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