You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Books

Book review

‘Someone’ by Alice McDermott

Above the funeral parlor, on the brownstone’s top floor, the old women gather, talking about the dead: whose body is being prepared in the basement, who is being waked upstairs, whose family has called, newly requiring services. A lifetime at its end needs careful remembering, neither sentimental nor cruel — colored with bits of jagged-edged heartbreak and scandal for veracity, but tempered with mercy. Such are the stories the women tell over tea.

“They would know the clear-eyed truth of it. And they would know as well how to choose their words to tell a kinder tale,” Alice McDermott writes in her incantatory new novel, in which the landscape of memory is a chiaroscuro in motion and the sightlines are seldom entirely unobstructed.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week