Archives for Ireland

#Bookreview ‘The Girl on the Cliff’ by @lucindariley #mystery #romance

This is a tale of complicated choices, tragedy and mental instability combined with all the bad luck life can throw at you. Told simply at the beginning, the emotional intensity of The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley tightens and tightens like a old screw turned so hard it can’t be loosened. Until finally it gives way. Visiting her family in Ireland, Grania Ryan is running from pain. She has just miscarried and is upset with her boyfriend, Matt, for an unexplained reason. At home she sees a young girl walking on the cliffs and is curious about her. Aurora Devonshire is eight years old, she lives in the big house beside the sea, raised by an accumulation of governesses, nannies and household staff during the absence of her father Alexander. Grania is transfixed by the child, but her mother Kathleen is worried by any contact made with ‘that family’. The Girl of the Cliff is the story of three generations of women in the two families, their loves, losses, sacrifices, cruelties and grudges. And throughout it all runs the mystery of why Grania cannot return to New York to her grieving and confused boyfriend. BUY Read my reviews
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Categories: Book Love.

#Bookreview ‘When All Is Said’ by Anne Griffin @AnneGriffin_ #Irish

This book stayed with me a long time after I finished it. Three words sum up When All is Said by Anne Griffin. Masterful. Emotional. Funny. It is the story of Maurice Hannigan as he sits at a bar one evening. He drinks a toast to five people and tells the story of his life. It is one of those Irish novels which makes your emotions tingle and say ‘yes, it is like that’, which makes tears prick your eyes and laughter rise in your chest. This is Griffin’s debut novel but she is an accomplished prizewinning writer who knows how to tell a story. It is unbearingly touching and will, without fail, make you cry. Maurice is in the bar of the Rainsford House Hotel in Rainsford, Co Meath, Ireland. At the beginning we don’t know why he is there, the first few pages are an introduction to Maurice, how he feels his age, as he conducts an imaginary conversation with his son Kevin who lives in America. His first drink is a bottle of stout and as he drinks, he tells the story of his brother Tony and their childhood. A key incident in this section has reverberations
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies

From the first sentence I was entranced. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne starts with such an opening sentence, full of conflict, hypocrisy, resentment and hope, it made me want to gobble up the pages and not put the book down. I wasn’t disappointed. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is the life story of one man, Cyril Avery, but also of a country and its attitudes to sexuality. The story starts in Goleen, Ireland, in 1945; a country riven by loyalty to, and hatred of, the British, at the same time in thrall to its Catholic priests whose rules were hypocritical, illogical and cruel. Cyril narrates his story, starting with how his 16-year old mother was denounced in church by the family priest for being single and pregnant. She was thrown out of church and village by the priest and disowned by her family. On the train to Dublin she meets a teenager, Sean, also heading for the big city. Wanting to help someone so obviously alone, Sean offers to let Catherine stay at his digs until she finds lodging and a job. These first friends she make are some of the most important in her life, and re-appear at
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: The Crows of Beara

The Crows of Beara by Julie Christine Johnson is a sensitive tale of two lost souls from opposite sides of the world who are in such pain they are unable to recognise a fresh chance for happiness. Annie Crowe, recovering addict and corporate PR specialist, flies from Seattle to Ireland to promote a new copper mine. When she meets Daniel Savage, an artist with a troubled past, both start to hear a mystical Gaelic voice whispering words of poetry. The west coast of Ireland is a bleak, beautiful, empty place. Jobs are thin on the ground so when a new copper mine is announced, the locals are divided: the economy, or nature. Annie arrives, determined to make a success of this last chance to get her career back on track. When she discovers the mine will endanger the nesting site of the Red-Billed Choughs, she must tell lies in the name of PR. She doesn’t expect it to make her acknowledge the lies she has been telling herself; about her failed marriage, her failing career, and her alcoholism. Annie, flawed but vulnerable, is an easy character to like. Weighed down by her addiction and the knowledge she did shameful things
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: The Good People

The Good People by Hannah Kent is a powerful second novel from a writer whose debut was outstanding. It is a tale of rural people in a poor community where superstition and folklore become entangled with one woman’s grief, with tragic results. Conflicting systems of thought come into play – folklore, religion, medicine and legal – and fail to make sense of what happens to Nóra Leahy. The power of the story lies not in black versus white, or logic and education versus peasant superstition, it lies in its characters. County Kerry, Ireland, 1826. An isolated village, where gossip goes around and around, where people survive on milk and potatoes and burn turf on the fire. A place where petty grievances are not forgotten, there is no money to pay the doctor, but there are still random acts of kindness. In such a poor community, what happens when the unthinkable happens, where the doctor and priest have no explanation or solution? The Good People is based on true events, a court case which did happen. In the same year in which her daughter died, Nóra’s husband drops dead in the field leaving her alone to care for her four-year-old grandson
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Butterfly Barn

Reading this book was like sitting down with a crowd of girlfriends for a long-delayed get-together. In Butterfly Barn by Karen Power, Ireland leaps off the page, present in the speech of the characters, the scenery and the ‘feel’ of the book. This is an easy book to read in that the pages turned quickly, but it deals with difficult topics: infant mortality, grief, betrayal, guilt. Like many Irish authors, Karen Power writes with a connection to the Catholic faith and – though I am not in the least bit religious – this did not interfere with my enjoyment of the tale. It is a women’s novel, about women, their strength, their suffering, their mutual support and above all the way they deal with what life throws at them. On a transatlantic flight, Grace gets talking to the lady in the next seat. A friendship is forged which sees them re-united in Bayrush, Ireland, where Grace’s best friend Jessie is expecting twins. Grace is engaged to Dirk and all looks happy, until Jack – a teenage crush – returns home from Dubai. This is the first of a series of this wide cast of characters, at times a little too
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: A History of Loneliness

I don’t normally start a book review by talking about a completely different book, but I will today so bear with me. John Boyne is probably best known for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, a book about a young German boy during World War Two who moves to a house in the country where he makes friends with Schmuel, a boy who lives at the other side of a wire fence. Written for ‘younger readers’ it is the story of Bruno’s transition from childhood innocence to horrific understanding, the book was made into a film starring David Thewlis. Despite the label ‘for younger readers’ this, and Boyne’s more recent First World War novel Stay Where You Are & Then Leave, provide food for thought for adult readers too. So with that in mind I came to A History of Loneliness, Boyne’s latest adult novel, expecting a harrowing storyline which tackles emotional and difficult issues with honesty. I was not disappointed. When I look back at the books I’ve most enjoyed reading, so far this year, Irish writers rank highly – particularly A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry. The History of Loneliness is a depressing title – it has
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Categories: Book Love.