This is the story of an Irishman’s life, from before he was born, when his mother was kicked out of her village by the priest for being unmarried and pregnant, until all of his life was lived. It’s also the story of Ireland, from the end of WWII, until now, and how it has grown and changed. These were hard times to be gay in Ireland, and Cyril’s journey to find a place for and within himself, takes him across the world. This is a difficult story, harsh and sad, but it is also laugh out loud funny, tender, and full of characters that will stay with me.
Dubliners is a series of short stories, set in Dublin in the early 1900s. There isn’t a great deal of plot; it is a snapshot of the lives of different people across the city. Lives filled with love, frustration, contentment, rage, drunkenness, hope, loneliness, lust and despair. They are a little bleak, but beautifully so.
Holding isn’t what I would have expected from Graham Norton. It’s not exactly Colm Tóibín, but it is a charming, tender and thoughtful story of a mystery in a sleepy, rural, Irish town. Quietly amusing with endearing characters and a great setting, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
One of my favourite authors, Maggie O’Farrell has delivered another great book. It’s about a man from New York who, after studying in the UK years before, finds himself living in Ireland, married to a reclusive former movie star. There is all the messiness of life, with all the complications, obstacles, tragedies and mistakes, and how we identify and cling to what is important.
The Green Road is about the Irish Madigan family, from the eighties until now. They are a regular family, each playing the role expected of them, wishing to be understood, not seeking to understand. There is no great plot, but time spent in New York, Mali, Dublin and a small town in County Clare. No characters are truly likeable, and there is no significant resolution, but an interesting look at the selfishness, messiness, intractability, and strength of family ties, and the struggles of modern life.