Original date of publication: 1934
My edition: 2003 (Virago)
Why I decided to read: I found this book browsing on ebay
How I acquired my copy: Ebay, July 2010
The Ante-Room is set over the course of just a few days in 1880. Agnes Mulqueen lives with her father, brother, and mother, who is dying from cancer. When Agnes’s older sister Marie-Rose arrives for a visit, she brings her husband, Vincent, along with her—and Agnes must deal with the feelings she has for her brother-in-law.
This is another one of those books I really wanted to like. But because the characters spend so much time waiting, the novel drags a lot, especially towards the middle. Agnes’s struggle—her love her Vincent versus her extremely strong faith—could be interesting, but I just found it dull after a while. I found myself wishing that Agnes would just grow herself a backbone, since she allows people to walk all over her. Actually, none of the characters are particularly likeable, except maybe poor Dr. Curran, who actually seems like a decent guy. Even Teresa Mulqueen, who I’d normally feel sorry for, isn’t all that sympathetic. But the author is a gifted writer, and she touches on her characters struggles with a great amount of compassion. Since I like Kate O’Brien’s prose style, I’ll read more books by her.