The Walking People

The Walking People - Mary Beth Keane

I actually enjoyed listening to this. It was OK, but......

This is one of those books definitely improved by its narration, very well done by Sile Bermingham! Great Irish brogue, and the different women all sound unique. Still, when you look at the book as a whole, you are left rather flat. What does it give you? A "cute" telling of the Irish immigrant story in NYC. Not the early immigrants, but the ones that came in the 60s. Family life and friendship between workmates. What was the sandhog experience like? The job of the sandhog, digging the tunnels for the water pipes of NYC, that too. Half of the book is about the life of Irish gypsies, the "walking people" and life in rural Ireland. Sister relationships, and aging, serious accidents and who exactly is the true mother, the birth mother or the one who raises a child? All of this is covered - some parts flow better than others, but all these different parts are patchy. There is humor and sadness. The poignant end could have been improved. Was the part about Alzheimer's really necessary? You start in 2007, flip back to the past and then go forward to 2007. The book was OK, and certainly very well narrated.


I have chosen to read this book for two reasons. First of all I really liked Mary Beth Keane's Fever, so I have to read another by this talented author. Secondly, when I listened to the sample of this book by the author I both loved the narration by Sile Bermingham, with her wonderful Irish tone, and discovered it begins with a section about NYC sandhogs. Sandhogs is a term used for the Irish, Italian and West Indian immigrants that first dug the tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn. So.... I think illogically that the book may be similar to Colum McCann's This Side of Brightness, also about sandhogs! I loved that book, except for its stupid ending. I know this is all rather illogical; I will not get a a continuation of McCann's book, but still it might be good.