Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell

Posted in Proofs on May 22nd, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment



Maggie O’Farrell is not one to sit on her laurels nor is she one of those authors who stick to tried and tested formulas because they worked in the past. Open a new Maggie O’Farrell and you will only be assured of one thing, this lady can write beautifully and engagingly but she’s full of surprises.

One of my all-time favourite songs is This Must Be the Place, that absolute gem of a love song by Talking Heads with searingly simple lyrics,
“Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I’m just an animal looking for a home and,
Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I’m dead”

It’s about love and finding home with another person and maybe it’s right in front of you and you can’t see it. I don’t even know if this novel has any connection with David Byrne’s lyrics but Maggie O’Farrell’s prose just reaches inside my chest and reproduces the same heartrending effect.

Daniel O’Sullivan is an expert linguist, working with language every day, but he just can’t find the right words to communicate his feelings to those he loves. The author takes us on a journey across oceans and through the experiences of many different characters before Daniel reaches any kind of conclusion…if he ever does! If you don’t have the energy or inclination to focus on multiple characters and time frames then this might not be for you. The narrative requires quite a bit of focus and concentration but if you get on board you’ll have the ride of your life!

A few years ago, I introduced my book group members to Maggie O’Farrell’s writing. Suffice to say, they’re chomping at the bit to get their teeth into this one. Highly recommended.

  • Share/Bookmark

Foster by Claire Keegan

Posted in Contemporary Fiction, Literary Prizes on January 19th, 2011 by admin – 2 Comments

Wow! What an absolutely beautiful, scintillating gem of a book – 96 pages of pure perfection.  If I was to recommend a book to all of my friends, both avid and reluctant readers, it would be this, described as a “long, short story” rather than a novella.

Winner of the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award in 2009, Claire Keegan has excelled herself here, in a long story which was originally published in a shorter form, in The New Yorker.  Without giving away too much of the plot, our narrator, an unnamed young girl, is taken by her father to a farm in Wexford to be “fostered” out to the Kinsellas for the summer months while her mother gets ready for the birth of yet another child.  The impression given is that the girl comes from a near-impoverished background with a father who is a loafer and a mother who strives to keep their heads above water.  Therefore, she is thrown into a totally alien environment amongst strangers – yes, its rural, farm setting is similar to her own home but there the similarities end.

Foster is too short to be a coming of age story but it is certainly a “coming of awareness” story in that our narrator’s view of the world is vastly expanded in the space of one hot summer, and we don’t have many of those in Ireland, I can tell you!   I loved the fact that it’s not a sterotypically Irish tale of woe and misery – of course, alcohol does feature but in the context of a wake at which it is the norm to toast the deceased.  Instead it’s a timeless tale of rural Irish life in which the bleatings of the outside world are somewhat muffled.  Indeed, apart from a passing reference to the death of one of the strikers (the H Block Hunger Strike in the early 80s), you would think you were in a bygone era.

The writing is exquisite, so simple, yet carrying such underlying emotion and meaning.  I stand in awe of a writer who can capture the essence of rural Ireland and the story of a young girl’s engagement with the world in so few words.  Small is indeed beautiful and I wholeheartedly recommend this story to all readers.

  • Share/Bookmark