The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane – Book Review

The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane – Book Review

The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane

The Half Moon

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There are two sides to every story. . .

Malcolm is a bartender at the Half Moon in Upstate New York. He has always dreamed of owning a bar, and so when his boss finally retires, he seizes his chance, despite his wife’s protests.

Jess has devoted herself to her law career. After years of trying for a baby, she’s struggling to accept the idea that motherhood might not be in her future. She finds herself slipping away from both her career and her marriage.

When a blizzard hits on the same day that Malcolm learns some shocking news about Jess, and a regular at the bar goes missing, everyone is frozen in place for a single, pivotal week, forcing Malcolm and Jess to confront their uncertain future.

The Half Moon carefully explores a marriage in crisis, what it takes to make a life with another person, and the true meaning of family.

Review by Stacey

The Half Moon is a tender novel that explores relationships, what being a family means, and second chances.

The story begins with Malcolm arriving at The Half Moon Bar, where he has worked for most of his adult life. Things are different now as he is the new owner, something he’s always dreamt of doing. The bar is more than just a place of work for him though. To Malcolm it is a space where friends come together, communities are built, and friendships formed.

Jess is Malcolm’s wife and an attorney working in the city. Over the years their lives have headed in different directions but one thing they have been united on is having children. Unfortunately, this has never happened even after fertility treatment, etc. Jess is in turmoil and Malcolm has had enough of trying and is coming to terms with the fact he will never be a father. This is too much for Jess and she leaves.

The Half Moon is a book that is character-driven and a slow burner. The chapters are very long and I found myself craving to find a gap in the story so I could stop, this especially happened at the beginning as I was struggling to focus on the story as nothing was grabbing me and I nearly gave up.

The plot does get more intriguing the further you get into it. The relationship between Malcolm and Jess is pushed and pulled and there are a few twists thrown in. This is a story that will stop and make you think and realise that love and relationships can be very complex.

For some people, the themes that are talked about in the book might be hard to read about but they are all handled with care and compassion. Overall, The Half Moon was a tale of two halves. I love that neither Malcolm nor Jess dominated my feelings as I could see both sides perfectly and that is a compliment to the storytelling. I also adored that the blizzard and the couple’s marriage were interwoven.

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Mary Beth Keane

Mary Beth Keane

Mary Beth Keane attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia, where she received an MFA. She was awarded a John S. Guggenheim fellowship for fiction writing, and has received citations from the National Book Foundation, PEN America, and the Hemingway Society.

She is the author of The Walking People, Fever, and Ask Again, Yes, which was a New York Times Best Seller and was translated into twenty-two languages. Her latest novel, The Half Moon, is out now.

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