In the The Edge of Sadness, Edwin O’Connor explores the murky territory of late middle age through the experience of a Catholic priest.
When he returns East after four years in a facility for alcoholic priests, Father Hugh Kennedy is posted to St. Paul’s. He is content in the undemanding, shabby parish whose immigrant parishioners can spare little time from scratching a living to come to church.
An unexpected phone call from Charlie Carmody brings Father Kennedy back to his pre-bottle associations and face-to-face with the unpleasant truth that alcohol was not his only form of escapism.
Charlie wants something from Father Kennedy—Charlie always wants something—and he gets it: Charlie always gets his way. But afterward, he dies. Death comes to everyone in the end.
O’Connor’s intricate plot unfolds as a natural consequence of the personalities of his characters. From nasty, manipulative Charlie Carmody to the trusting, boyish Father Donowski, O’Connor’s characters are fully drawn human beings with distinctive absurdities.
In O’Connor’s skilled pen, Father Kennedy emerges as a figure with whom readers over 50 will immediately identify. When he is forced to confront his home truths, readers are forced to confront theirs.The Edge of Sadness
By Edwin O’Connor
Little, Brown 1961
1961 bestseller # 9
My Grade: A-
© 2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni