Book Review: This Must Be The Place, by Maggie O’Farrell

cv_this_must_be_the_place_smlAvailable now in bookshops nationwide.

Some people have complicated lives, complex families and confusing memories. Daniel O’Sullivan is one such person, and while he is a New Yorker by birth, this love story is set mainly in the wilds of Ireland. Throughout the book, we follow his journey to discover what really matters in his life. His marriage to a reclusive ex-movie star adds mystery to the tale and it takes some time to unravel his children and hers, his friends and her secrets, his mistakes and her quirkiness.

Maggie O’Farrell has written a sophisticated book which draws you into a love story with a difference. I am always surprised to see how a writer gets inside relationships and identifies the issues which surface years in to the partnership. It is not obvious where this story will lead and the changes of location as well as the people on the journey add variety to the telling.

Daniel is a linguist who embraces change in language, and wonderful words are very much a part of this story. While he lectures on words, he himself struggles to use language clearly to communicate feelings. This reticence leaves confusion behind, and the events of his childhood and time at university, need to be re interpreted to find the real truth.

I thoroughly enjoyed the world painted between the covers. I love language and found it being used superbly to captivate me over a cold winter week in bleak Christchurch.

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

This Must be the Place
by Maggie O’Farrell
Published by Tinder PRess
ISBN 9780755358830

Book Review: The Glorious Heresies, by Lisa McInerney

Available in bookstores nationwide.

It starts with a murder, but that murder is kind of weird. A cv_the_glorious_heresiesguy dies – he’s been hit over the head with religion (literally; it’s an icon). The killer? Not your run-of-the-mill criminal, but Maureen – mother of Jimmy, a crime lord in the town of Cork, where this gritty story is set. Maureen is reluctantly put up in a building of Jimmy’s when she needs a place to stay; the victim is a previous ‘tenant’ returned. Thus fate is cast.

Running alongside this is the story of Tony (one of Jimmy’s henchmen) and his son Ryan, who seems to be resisting following in his father’s footsteps. Initially, anyway. Ryan is in love with Karine, and the relationship is a sweet one. Part of McInerney’s skill as a writer has to be how she creates a sense of horror in the reader as we watch Jimmy – prodigal, talented son – succumb to drug dealing and crime. ‘His lot’, some might argue. In this, the case for ‘nurture’ rather than ‘nature’ seems depressingly accurate.

Georgie the prostitute is the final protagonist – poor Georgie who doesn’t have much luck in life, and yet makes the most of what she’s got – she is the murder victim’s girlfriend. These narratives work side-by-side until, as with many great stories, they come together.

McInerney uses local dialect in her text, which means the reader really feels part of the place. Whether you’ve been to Ireland or not, the words and accents rendered here are as familiar as St Patrick’s Day. If that makes it sound lightweight, it’s not. The characters are well-written, and I found myself particularly taken with Ryan’s story – he who starts out as a boy and ends up a hardened man. It felt sad but inevitable, what with him being the son of Tony (poor Tony) who tries to leave crime, but can’t. His relationship with girlfriend Karine seemed so full of hope at the start and it’s testament to McInerney’s writing that one wishes it would stay that way.

It is bleak, yes, but also funny. It’s been described as a meditation on sex and family in ‘the arse end of Ireland’, which also happens to be the name of McInerney’s popular Irish blog. There’s a bit of a ‘Tarantino’ feel to parts of the book – especially the murder at the start and the unusual circumstances that surround it. If you, like me, enjoy vicarious living, this might be the book for you. I know one thing – I certainly wouldn’t want to live any of these lives for real!

Reviewed by Lara Liesbeth

The Glorious Heresies
by Lisa McInerney
Published by John Murray Publishers
ISBN 9781444798869