In his latest novel, From a Low and Quiet Sea, Donal Ryan has taken three very different characters – Farouk, whose country has been torn apart by war; Lampy, a broken-hearted boy from Ireland; and elderly John, whose past sins are haunting him – and created something special.
The novel is structured simply – a short, stand-alone story for each character and a fourth concluding story that brings the three characters together. The danger of drawing a number of disparate stories together is that the overall result can seem contrived. Somehow, Ryan has avoided this – nothing in From a Low and Quiet Sea feels forced or out-of-place. The connections between each story, once revealed, are surprising but also make perfect sense. And the best bit? I didn’t see any of it coming. Quite a feat. Continue reading
Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye. Continue reading
For a book to get five-stars, I want to laugh and cry. I want to whoop with joy when a character triumphs but equally, I want to have my heart broken (just a little). Basically, I want a million feelings and Cyril Avery, the star of John Boyne’s big, ramshackle novel, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, delivers it all.
There’s great emphasis from the outset that Cyril Avery is not a real Avery – he’s adopted by the peculiar but not inherently unkind, Charles and Maude Avery.
I was not a real Avery and would not be looked after financially in adulthood in the manner that a real Avery would have been. ‘Think of this more as a tenancy, Cyril,’ he told me – they had named me Cyril for a spaniel they’d once owned and loved – ‘an eighteen-year tenancy. But during that time there’s no reason why we shouldn’t all get along, is there?’ Continue reading
01. Late-afternoon-altostratus taken at McCrae beach. Continue reading
It doesn’t seem quite right doing a literary mixtape for a book that I loved so much. Because I should be telling you why I loved it, and urging you to read it. Read this review and also this one – they sum up why it’s ace. Now off you go and read it.
5/5 Magnificent. Continue reading
When you’re twenty-one years old, you think you’ve got relationships down – you’re not as susceptible to shallow or fleeting infatuations (or rather, you accept infatuations for what they are – shallow and fleeting); you’ve probably had you’re heart-broken; you ‘know what you want’ and ‘commitment’ seems a reasonable proposition. But actually, there’s still a lot to learn on the relationship front. A lot. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney demonstrates exactly that.
Frances is 21 – a university student, aspiring writer, idealistic, and aloof. Her best-friend Bobbi, is charismatic, opinionated and beautiful. Once lovers, the two women now perform poetry together. They’re discovered by Melissa, an established writer in her mid-30s, and are quickly drawn into Melissa’s world, impressed by her sophistication, her beautiful home and her handsome actor husband, Nick. Continue reading
I’ve never suffered from depression but some people around me have. Although I’ve tried my best to understand how they’re feeling, I’ve never known the depth and darkness of that place. For 320 pages, Sara Baume’s novel, A Line Made by Walking, showed me that place.
Struggling to cope with life, 25-year-old artist, Frankie, retreats to her family’s rural house, vacant since her beloved grandmother’s death three years earlier. Surrounded by open space, Frankie slowly falls apart –
…I tried to explain that I had no explanation, that I just spent rather a lot of time trying not to cry; that trying-not-to-cry had become my normal state. Continue reading
From the very beginning of The Wonder, author Emma Donoghue sets up clear foci for narrative drama – the English versus the Irish; science and logic versus folklore and superstition; a single woman versus a group of powerful men; fundamentalism and faith versus common sense and love – and uses the phenomenon of the Victorian-era ‘fasting girls’ to explore these themes.
Eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell hasn’t eaten for four months, yet remains alive and well. Newspaper reports proclaiming Anna’s existence a miracle; visits and donations from people paying homage; and the curiosity of doctors and priests, prompts the employment of a British nurse, Lib Wright, to investigate whether Anna is a fraud. Lib, an atheist and a highly experienced nurse, is dismissive of the religious devotion and folklore that drives the small town, and believes she will quickly expose the secret feeding of Anna. Continue reading
It’s time for #6Degrees – join in! Link up!
We begin the chain with an international best-selling debut that thrilled fans of historical fiction (and everyone else) when it was published in 2001 – Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Continue reading
Louise O’Neill’s novel, Asking For It, is hard-hitting, frightening and all-too-real.
The story opens with a conversation between a group of teenage girls – they’re discussing school, exams, boyfriends and parties – the usual stuff, however it quickly reveals the pecking order among the girls and it’s eighteen year old Emma, who’s on top. Continue reading