Today, as promised, I’ll give you a taste of Kenneth Weene’s new novel, Widow’s Walk. I’ll let the author introduce the book and the excerpt he’s chosen from it.
Ken: They came to Boston for many reasons: the Flanagans, the Rileys, the Hennesseys, the O’Briens – the characters who people Widow’s Walk. They left their native Ireland and set their course on a new world and a new life. They brought with them a willingness to work, a love of family, and an abiding faith. On that foundation the Irish-Americans built their place in Boston.
Widow’s Walk tells of a next step in the Irish-American experience; it explores the integration of the Irish community into the larger society. As is so often the case, it is love and the desire for emotional richness that move Mary Flanagan, the novel’s main character, into that outside world.
In the excerpt below Mary and Arnie meet for the first time. Mary, whose life is in upheaval, is for the first time looking outside the simple truths of her background. She has found her way to a large university, Northeastern, and approaches Arnie to ask directions.
Excerpt from Widow’s Walk by Kenneth Weene:
Mary starts to laugh. It is not her typical, self-controlled laughter. It is a laughter that has been stored in her soul in Ireland – filled with the beauty of a misty Irish morning and the unconscious happiness of seeing a herd of cows making their contented way home after a day of green grazing, their stomachs filled, their udders waiting for relief. Her laughter peels across the open space and seem to echo off the buildings. It is an infectious laugh, and the man starts to laugh with her. Various students stop to watch them and then walk on – some smiling and others even chuckling.
“Why are we laughing?” he asks. He thinks to himself that he has never seen more beautiful eyes than those behind her thick glasses. “She has lovely hair, too,” he considers. “If she wanted to, this woman could be something special.”
Once Mary’s hair had been the majestic red-brown of a fine hardwood, but age had grayed it enough to take away the magical edge of Irish defiance and turn it soft and inviting. Her body, too, is fine to see: shapely despite her years, well exercised by honest work, kept thin by her disinterest in corporal pleasures. Only her hands speak of something else. Their roughness tells of the years she has spent cleaning, cooking, taking care of others, and even, her one sometimes hobby, gardening. Those lovely flowerbeds seemed to always need tending, and Mary had spent so many hours of happy labor kneeling beside them.
“I just realized how silly it all seems.” Her tone has a tinge of embarrassment.
He looks at her questioningly. She seems like a nice person and is certainly attractive, but she sounds slightly mad.
“There’s an office that can answer my questions.” Mary starts laughing again. How ridiculously simple that sounded – how ridiculously untrue.
About the Author:
A New Englander by upbringing and inclination, Ken Weene’s career – primarily in New York – included teaching, pastoral care, and psychology. Throughout his career Ken has also been devoted to writing. His poetry has appeared in a number of publications – both print and web. He authored a number of professional publications. His short stories and essays have also been published. One of his short plays was recently workshopped. An anthology of Ken’s work, Songs For My Father, was published 2002. His novel, Widow’s Walk, has been published in 2009. Ken and his wife, Roz, now live in greater Phoenix where he spends much of his time writing.
He started writing, primarily poetry, in the 1980s. Regarding Widow’s Walk, Weene says, “Stepping away from full-time work was the best decision I ever made. Writing this story has given me tremendous personal satisfaction, and it has shown me an avenue for expression I will always treasure.”
If you’d like to find out more about Widow’s Walk and the author, check out these webpages: