My Coney Island Baby

My Coney Island Baby

by Billy O'Callaghan

Overview: Radiant with beauty, longing, and desire, and deeply touching, this literary novel, reminiscent of the works of William Trevor and Colm Tóibín, evokes the long love affair between a man and a woman, each married to another, who meet every month in a decaying hotel in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

On a bitterly cold winter’s afternoon, Michael and Caitlin, two middle-aged lovers, escape their unhappy marriages to keep an illicit date. Once a month for the past quarter of a century, Coney Island has been their haven, the place in which they have abandoned themselves to their love.

These beautiful, carefully-rationed days have long sustained Michael and Caitlin’s love, and have helped help them survive the tedium of their lives separate from each other. But now, amid the howling winds whipping off the Atlantic, and a snow storm blackening the horizon, this nearly abandoned resort feels like the edge of the world. On this winter day, burrowed in their private cocoon, they will discover that their lives are on the brink of change.

Michael’s wife is battling cancer, and Caitlin’s husband is about to receive a major promotion, which will involve relocating to the Midwest. After half a lifetime together in their most intimate moments, certain long-denied facts must be faced, decisions made, consequences weighed and, maybe, just maybe, chances finally taken.

A quiet, intense depiction of love and intimacy, My Coney Island Baby reveals, within the course of a single day’s passing, the histories, landscapes, tragedies and occasional moments of wonder that constitute the lives of two people who, although living worlds apart, have been inexorably drawn together. But even in this most private of retreats, a place seemingly built for romance, the most heartbreaking of realities loom.

Carol Zwicker (04/25/19) My Coney Island Baby by Billy O'Callaghan begins with Michael and Caitlin on their way to an off-season hotel on Coney Island for their monthly rendez-vous, something they have been committed to for the past twenty-five years. Michael and Caitlin are married but not to each other. As a winter storm approaches, the couple must decide whether to continue their affair or leave each other forever. Michael's wife is seriously ill with cancer and Caitlin's husband may be transferred to the Midwest. As each chapter unfolds, we get to know each lover, from their youth through to their married years. These are interspersed with chapters about Michael and Caitlin in their present-day hotel room. I have read several reviews that objected to the adultery but it is not for me to judge. This is a heart-breaking story told with achingly beautiful and sensitive prose. Reading was pure pleasure. This is the second Billy O'Callaghan novel that I have read and I am a fan for life.
Rating: *****

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