Apologize, Apologize! takes us into the perversely charmed world of the Flanagans and their son, Collie (who has the questionable good fortune to be named after a breed of dog). Coming of age on Martha’s Vineyard, he struggles to find his place within his wildly wealthy, hyper-articulate, resolutely crazy Irish-Catholic family: a philandering father, incorrigible brother, pigeon-racing uncle, radical activist mother, and domineering media mogul grandfather (accused of being a murderer by Collie’s mother). It is a world where chaos is exhilaratingly constant, where money is of no object. And yet it is a world where the things Collie wants-understanding, stability, a sense of belonging-cannot be bought for any price. Through his travails, we realize what it really means to grow up and also to grow into one’s family: finding to find ways to see them anew, to forgive them, and to be forgiven in turn.
In prose that is lively, humorous, and brilliant throughout, Elizabeth Kelly gives us the dysfunctional-family novel to end all dysfunctional-family novels, finding the comedy and pathos in her characters’ struggles, and showing beautifully how a family’s love can be as trying as it is true.