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One warm July night, when thoughts of Ireland are far from James Dwyer's mind, a homeless man with a sunburnt face, who smells like dry wood, comes to the screen door of his Michigan apartment. Walter has two messages. The first is that an old lady is lying in the middle of his street. But when James goes to look there's nobody to be seen. The second, while apparently more ordinary, is ultimately more troubling: a childhood friend wants him to visit.
Kevin Lyons, the wayward older son of a neighbouring builder James knew long ago as a boy in Tipperary, now lives in the USA too, and wants to reconnect with his past. But James, who has spent years establishing the foundations of his American life, has put that past behind him.
As the day of the visit approaches, James slowly re-examines the mysteries of that time: what happened to Aunt Tess, who went away to become a nurse in Dublin; what Kevin's father was really doing late at night by candlelight in his makeshift office in the yard; what became of Kevin's red-haired sister Una, who young Jimmy fell for in a big way and whether, after all these years, people like Kevin ever really change.
The Visitors is a captivating story of the interwoven fates of two families, of the gap between childhood and the adult world, between a river in Ireland (and all that happened there) and another in America, and of the shocking revelations that come with crossing the divide.