Archives for Emma Donoghue

#BookReview ‘The Pull of the Stars’ by @EDonoghueWriter #historical

In Dublin, 1918, it is a time of immense global and social change. Emma Donoghue’s latest novel The Pull of the Stars takes place almost exclusively in a cramped three-bed fever ward in an understaffed hospital. All patients are pregnant and quarantined while the world is racked by war and influenza. Both of these are unpredictable, killing at random, lasting longer than predicted and classless. This is an at times breath-taking, touching and emotional novel that sucks you into a feverish dream so you want to read on and on. Taking place over three days, Nurse Power arrives for work to find herself temporarily in charge. Donoghue excels at the ordinary detail of Julia’s life, her journey to work, the arbitrary rules of the matron, the needs at home of her war-damaged soldier brother Tim who is now mute. On the day the story stars, Julia’s only help comes from an untrained young volunteer, Bridie McSweeney, who acts as a runner to find doctor or orderly as required. The figure of three recurs – three beds, three days, three key characters. The third, Doctor Kathleen Lynn, is a real person, her history documented. She was arrested during the 1916 Easter
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Akin’ by Emma Donoghue @EDonoghueWriter #literary #WW2

Noah Selvaggio, a widower and retired chemistry professor, is about to leave New York for Nice, France, on an 80th birthday trip to discover his childhood roots. He expects to travel alone. Except in Akin by Emma Donoghue, Noah finds himself in temporary charge of his 11-year old great nephew Michael. The trip to Nice goes ahead, the old man and the boy learn new things about themselves, each other, and about the world. This is effectively a road trip in a book, more of a ‘holiday trip’. The unlikely travelling companions are quite sparky, irritating each other, each reacting wildly to the other’s strange cultural habits. Donoghue does an excellent job with the Nice setting, effortlessly bringing it alive; the gardens, the architecture, the food, the carnival, the French themselves. I loved the grumpiness that both characters demonstrate. Michael’s weary ‘dude’ when Noah tries to educate him about something – ‘it’s a selfie, dude’, ‘eyebleach, dude’; Noah’s repeated requests that Michael eat a proper meal that includes vegetables. Any adult who is not natural with children and who has spent uncomfortable time with an awkward teenager, will identify with Noah’s dilemma. Michael can be gentle, inquisitive, cocky, snide, exhausting and infuriating.
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Frog Music

I came to this book knowing nothing about it other than it was written by Emma Donoghue who wrote Room. So it was something of a surprise to discover Frog Music is a historical crime story set in San Francisco in 1876 and loosely based on true events. I loved it. Every page pulses with the colour of the time. In the summer of 1876, San Francisco is a vibrant and bustling city living through an intense heatwave and smallpox epidemic. Donoghue starts her story with the murder of Jenny Bonnet, frog-catcher, who is shot through an open window. Her friend Blanche Beunon, a burlesque dancer, must find the murderer and avoid being killed herself, whilst tracking down her own missing baby. The pace is fast and San Francisco is portrayed as a third character; switching from the bawdy House of Mirrors where Blanche dances, to smelly noisy Chinatown where she lives. The notion of chance is explored. What if the two women had never met. One day, Blanche is knocked down in the street by a young man on a bicycle. “Black anterlish handbars, that’s all she has time to glimpse before the gigantic spokes are swallowing her skirts.”
Read More

Categories: Book Love.