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James Hanley: Winter Song

The fourth novel in the Furys series is relatively low key and revolves around one event. In the previous novel in the series – Our Time is Gone – Denny Fury had seemingly drowned. At the beginning of this novel, a year later, his family have more or less come to terms with his death but Denny unexpectedly turns up, a wrecked man, physically and mentally. He had managed to survive the shipwreck and had been rescued in poor condition. Then the ship that had rescued him was, in its turn, torpedoed. Again he is rescued and spends time in hospital before slowly being repatriated, but with little help from the Navy. Fanny, his wife, has moved to a hospice for the dying (though she is not dying) and is, of course, overjoyed to see Denny again, as she is separated from all her children. Peter is still in prison. Maureen has disappeared (she turns up at the end). Desmond is in London. Anthony is in China. Only Maureen’s husband, Joe Kilkey, keeps in touch.

Once Denny is back, Fanny is eager to resume the plan she had dreamed up before, of the two of them returning to Ireland. Most of the novel is about their plans to do just that. With Denny’s ill health, this is difficult but with the help of Kilkey they manage to set sail by the end of the novel. What Hanley gives us in this novel is not the Denny and Fanny of old but a very tired, very old couple, struggling to stay alive. Fanny is kept going with her memories and dreams, while Denny can’t wait to get back to work, though it is very apparent to everyone that he will not be able to do so. With little happening, this novel is almost like a three hundred page coda to the series but still very worthwhile.

Publishing history

First published 1950 by Phoenix House