BOUCHARD’S SALT OF THE SEA FLOWS SMOOTHLY WITH A CREW OF MEMORABLE CHARACTERS.

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We Are Salt Of Sea CvrAccording to the Canadian author John Ralston Saul, “In European tradition, rivers are seen as divisions between peoples. But in Aboriginal tradition, rivers are seen as the glue, the highway, the linkeage between people, not the separation. And that’s the history of Canada: our rivers and lakes were our highways…”.  Without Rivers and lakes, Canadians would never have found the sea and what lies beyond the horizons, or for that matter, the beautiful Gaspe Penisula on the southern shores of the St. Laurence river.

The author of this months book discovered the peninsula  ten years ago when she took up sailing. It’s where  this month’s book is set and all but one of the characters come and go by water to it. The book is “We Were The Salt Of The  Sea” by Roxanne Bouchard, published by Orenda Books (www.Orendabooks.co.uk) Last April.

Montreal woman Catherine Day is advised by her doctor to take some much needed time out, so she packs her bags, boards her beloved boat and sets sail up the coast to Caplan on the Gaspe Peninsula. There, according a letter posted in  Key West, she’ll find her lost mother, the woman who gave her up for adoption thirty years ago.  Shortly after she arrives in the remote fishing village, a body of is found tangled in fishing nets off the coast. It’s Marie Garant, her birth mother. The local police launch an investigation headed by newly arrived former Quebec detective Joaquim Morales, who’s moved to the area at the behest of his artist wife, believing their struggling marriage needs nurturing in the quiet and relaxed tempo of life on the peninsula. But poor Joaquim has literally no time to enjoy the surroundings or sedate pace of life, let alone unpack. As, he is thrust headlong into the investigation to find the cause of Marie Garant’s death, a woman who was even more mysterious in life than in death. As the search for answers by both parties moves forward, helped and hindered by the local characters, Catherine tries to find out more about her mother and where she went on her regular voyages from the safe-haven of Caplan’s harbour and about the identity of her father. Morales like Catherine, is also on a journey of personal discovery . Can they find the answers to their own personal quests and will new love and new starts be the answers?

Numerous other readers have praised Bouchard’s poetic style of writing, and this style is very much apparent from the opening page. I felt it wasn’t so much poetic, but smooth flowing prose like the current of a river, that gradually takes the reader on a journey from start to finish.

On top of that, credit must surely go to David Warriner’s translation, without whose excellent skill, the afore mention flowing prose would have been lost in translation and left the book high and dry on this side of the Atlantic.  I did wonder after finishing it – if the characters were actually speaking French or English but written by a francaphone author, as it never says in the book, but assumes the reader automatically knows. According to Wikipedia, French is the primary language of the region, so that answers that.

Roxanne Bouchard

Roxanne Bouchard (Le Devoir)

One of the best things about this book is its characters. If the prose is the current moving the story forward, then the characters are the boats on which the reader is transported. I’ve read numerous books where the story is told by stereotypical cardboard cutout characters, that any writer can half-heartedly fit into the story like a jigsaw piece. But a true storyteller uses unique standout characters who embrace you from your first meeting till your last and this is what you get with the plethora of individual characters in We We The Salt Of The Sea.

As for the two lead characters there are some stereo typical sides to them, Morales, theGaspe Peninsula middle aged detective attempting to deal with  his mid-life crisis , marital problems and the investigation. He’s unique in that one really wonders how many Mexican cops there are in Montreal? I did feel for him and the way he was treated by the locals. He also, it appears, will be a recurring character. Maybe he’s supposed to be the main one in this book, although this isn’t really clear. But I understand Bouchard is working on her next book which will also be set is the Gaspie Region and will also feature Morales.

As for Catherine, we see characters like hers popping up regularly in literature. A mid thirties woman ,discovering their wanderlust and the truth behind her estranged mother – is a theme in  many books these days. But the real characters are the local fishermen and townsfolk, each one is unique in their own way.

This is Canadian Author Roxanne Bouchard’s (www.roxannebouchard.com) fifth book and the first to be translated into English – her others include Whiskey And Parables, The Slap and Crematorium Circus. She’s also written two essays on Canadian Military and a love monologue for the theatre. She’s a graduate of the University of Montreal and has been teaching literature at Cegep De Jliette a college in the Lanaudiere region of Canada since 1994. Inspiration for the book came ten years ago when Bouchard decided to find her sea legs and learned to sail on the St. Laurence and then the open waters off the Gaspe Peninsula.

So if you are looking for a heart warming book, full of well rounded and loveable characters, then this is the book to upload on your kindle or stow in your carry-on luggage for a great summer read.

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Sorry if we’ve been a bit quite at the Library Door for the past month, but we suffered a technical issue behind the door (The Laptop Died). We’re back now and normal service has resumed, with book reviews and blog tours winging their way to you over next couple of months.

Adrian

 

FERNLEY’S SECOND NOVEL LEAVES ME IN A STATE OF FLUX AND CAPACITY FOR AN ENDING

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Uber Alles coverWhen H.G. Wells published his novella The Time Machine in 1836, time travel was still in the realms of fantasy. With the development of nuclear and quantum physics over the past one hundred and eighty years, the idea of travelling back and forward in time is perceived to be closer than ever. If, it hasn’t already been achieved in some small aspect, by a government or corporation.

In literature we’ve certainly seen authors grasp the theory and run with it, considering the likes of Michael Crichton’s 1999 time travel adventure Timeline and more recently Audrey Niffeneggers’s 2003 book, the Time Traveler’s Wife. As with most things, there are good and bad uses for scientific advances; take Crichton’s other big literary and film success Jurassic Park and it’s print sequel Jurassic World. This month’s book explores the idea of what would happen if a group of Hitler’s most trusted military leaders got their hands on time travel. Its America Uber Alles by Jack Fernley and is published by Unbound (www.unbound.com)  on the 3rd May 2018.

Its 1945 in Berlin and the Allies and Russians are closing in on the city. Hitler and his  generals are facing defeat. General Robert Ritter Von Griem and Flying Ace, Hanna Reitsch are summoned to Hitler’s bunker. There, they are ordered to proceed to a facility on the outskirts of the city where a group of highly skilled Stormtroopers, Historians and Engineers are waiting. Their mission is to travel back in time and change history by making one of the allies a German state, founded on the beliefs of the Third Reich. In December 1776, George Washington and his army are struggling to overcome mounting losses, low morale  and defeat  at the hands of the British in the American War of Independence, aided by a large force of German mercenaries, led by the mysterious Baron Von Steuben aka Ritter Von Griem and Hanna Reitsch. When one of Washington’s most trusted lieutenants Edward Hand, an Irish Doctor is kidnapped, he is asked by Von Steuben to introduce him to Washington and through their knowledge of American history Von Stuben and his troops start  to turn the tide of the war against the British. But as the German influence over the Americans becomes all encompassing, Edward Hand witnesses first hand their barbarity and has grave doubts about the Germans. Can he convince the fledgling congress and his own leaders and friends of the danger they are in? Or will Von Stueben and Reitsch and their ever growing support achieve their sole objective of changing the future?

When I first heard the title of this book, I thought it was about Uber and modern America. What a surprise I got when I read the blurb and it dawned on me what a coincidence its publication was, considering the  social and political change sweeping America at this time under Trump.

Wayne Garvie 2

Jack Fernley (AKA Wayne Garvie)

 

What Fernley gives us in this book is a historical conspiracy thriller that will have readers chomping at the bit from the first page to find the answer to the huge “Will they won’t they” conundrum at the heart of this book. The main thing we take from reading  this book, is the vast amount historical research that Fernley has put into this work. When you add his edgy and engrossing story telling, you realize how on the mark he is. As a result the reader is drawn into a parallel world where modern ideals and warfare clash with old world thinking and technologies.

I did like this book and found it a real page turner, but there are a couple things that are a big let down. For one there is no apparent protagonist in the book, it’s only midway through it that I started to get a feeling I should be rooting for Edward Hand, but he disappears for a good bit of the book and really only comes to the fore at the end. So in a sense, its like watching a big Premiership football match  with a lot of well constructed characters up against each other.

The second and biggest problem lies in the fact that there’s no ending. From page one you are on a vehicle which moves at speed to one of two conclusions, either the Germans succeed or Edward Hand and the few friends he has left, thwart their mission. But after three hundred and forty nine pages the whole thing falls off a cliff and stops dead. There is no outcome and the reader is left wondering what happens next.

The last chapter sees George Washington, Edward Hand and Thomas Jefferson meeting a groupH.G.Wells Time Machine Cvr of Native Americans to try raise a new American army, but nothing is mentioned of whether they succeed or if Von Stueben and the Nazi’s do. I can only assume Fernely is planning a second book, with a conclusion where a new America under German rule is formed and the outcome of World War Two is altered or maybe he’ll introduce another group of time travelers from the future lead by the allies. These I would look forward to, but if there is no such thing then I’m very disappointed.

This is English Author Jack Fernley’s (@thejackfernely) second historical thriller, his first was, The Babylon Revelation published in 2013. Jack Fernley is actually the pen name of Wayne Garvie a leading British television executive whose worked on such programes as Strictly Come Dancing, Top Gear and The Crown.

So, if you are looking for a great read with the plotting and pace of any of Robert Harris or Bernard Cornwell’s books then jump in your Delorean and drive to your local bookshop or download a copy, but be warned the ending is a big let down and needs the reader to decide the outcome.

KRISTIAN AND LANCELOT BRING ARTHURIAN LEGEND TO THE GoT GENERATION

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Lancelot CovrIn twenty-four hours’ time, my husband Adrian and I, will be on the road heading for Devon, in the South west of England. It’s the home of cream teas and the accompanying fiercely fought battle of cream on jam or jam on cream? This part of England is also steeped in Arthurian legend. Our base for our annual wedding anniversary break is Ilfracombe, an hour or so’s drive up the coast from Tintagel Castle, the reputed birthplace of King Arthur, he of the the knights of the round table legend. Which is quite apt as this month’s book is about one of the most famous knights of the round table. The book is Lancelot, by Giles Kristian, published by Bantam Press (www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/publishers/transworld/bantam-press)  on the 31st May.

Lancelot and Guinevere first appeared as an Arthurian legend in the French poem, Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart by Chretien De Troyes in the 12th Century. Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table appear in French romances in the same period. While The exact site of Camelot has been disputed over the years, as either somewhere in Wales, near Winchester or as far north as Carlisle! I was familiar with the Hollywood stories of Arthur’s Camelot as a child, my interest fuelled by the legend of Robin Hood in my native Nottinghamshire, combined with an interest in Greek Mythology and the supernatural. In my youth, the well-known tales were often regaled and consumed as historical fact. Its interesting that we still know so little of what happened during the ‘Dark Ages’, the period following Roman withdrawal from Britain, and its this vacuum which has encouraged tales to be woven by storytellers throughout the ages since to plug the gap.

When you mention King Arthur most people will remember the love story between

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Lancelot & Guinevere (WCDF-France,com)

Lancelot and Guinevere, resulting in their betrayal of Arthur and the downfall of Camelot. Lancelot is often seen as a dishonourable man, a poor friend and a traitor. In this version, Giles Kristian sets out to flesh out the story of Lancelot, to make him a complete person and to renew the legend of Arthur and Camelot through the eyes and voice of a new ‘witness’. We first meet Lancelot as his family are driven from their home and his father’s reign as King of Benoic is overthrown. They escape and take refuge with a neighbouring tribe but are betrayed. Lancelot is rescued by the Lady Nimue and taken to her island fortress. Here he spends his childhood as an orphan and as apprentice to the island guard. Spotting a ship sinking off the island during a storm, he swims out in the hope of rescuing some of the crew and finds Guinevere in the water. She was being sent to the island to be cared for by Lady Nimue. From this moment on their fates are intertwined.

Kristian’s book,  portrays Britain is a fractured land of many kingdoms, under attack from both invading Saxons from across the channel and the Picts in the North. Lancelot is taken across to the mainland to Tintagel to pay respects to the dying King Uther Pendragon. Merlin, the king’s advisor encourages him to pledge an oath of allegiance to Uther’s son Arthur. Arthur must prove his right to be the next overall King, subduing unrest and counterclaim from his fellow kings and driving back the Saxons in an attempt to unite the peoples of Britain behind him. They battle together and build Camelot but Lancelot is dismayed to find that Arthurs queen, when she arrives at court, is no other than Guinevere his long lost love.

Giles Kristian uses elements of the original Arthurian legends to anchor his story. For example, legend tells that Arthur is the illegitimate son of Uther and Igraine, conceived after Uther obtained an enchantment to make him appear to be Igraine’s husband. Weaving Lancelot’s story around these already familiar events and characters hooks the reader immediately into the story. In previous interviews, Kristan admits that he is not fond of research and because he is using events not recorded in history he can go his own way.

Lancelot is the tenth book (he co-wrote Golden Lion with Wilbur Smith) by English author Giles Kristian (www.gileskristian.com), who has led a rather varied life up to now, having been the lead singer with a pop band in the 90’s, worked as a model on various TV adverts, produced music videos  as well as a copywriter for an advertising agency in New York, he now lives in Leicestershire.

Giles Kristian (c) Nigel Edgecombe

Giles Kristian ((C) Nigel Edgecombe)

His Norwegian ancestory along with Previous experience gained writing the Viking era based ‘Raven’ and the ‘Rise of Sigurd’ trilogies has honed his obvious talent for creating a moment in time, a history and a world that seems entirely real. His descriptions of everyday life and battles feel realistic and whilst there is a magical element to the story, we had no dragons or invisibility cloaks. Merlin was not the white bearded wizard of Disney but a squat, cunning, tattooed Druid and you often felt he achieved more by reading people than enchanting them.

Lancelot wins us over with his sense of duty and honour. The scenes with his sparrow hawk at the start of the novel, revealed the type of man he would become. I liked him. I hoped for him. This is very much a novel for the Game of Thrones generation. As a fan of Harry Potter, the Hunger Games and the Maze Runner, this felt very much like the old orphan learns amazing skills and overcomes his enemies in a noble way story, that I loved so much about those young adult books. It’s totally absorbing, gritty and moving. I couldn’t wait to pick it up again.

This may be a book for the adult me, but adult or not, you may still find me charging around Tintagel Castle, shouting ‘For Arthur’ and wielding a pretend sword. But in your case, you can charge down to your local bookshop for a copy or magically download it online.

Reviewed by Georgina Murphy

 

FITZMAURICE FINDS HER TRIBE AND A WHOLE SHOAL OF FANS IN THIS EMOTIONAL DEBUT

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I Fnd My Tribe CvrAccording to the lyrics to the 1981 John Denver song “Some Days Are Diamonds”, some days are diamonds, some days are stones, some days the hard times won’t leave me alone. But after reading this month’s book, whenever you think you’re having crap day, you’ll realize that your days are ten times better than those of this month’s author. Also, you’ll learn to find good things in even the darkest situations.

Statistics from the Royal College of Nursing Website (www.rcn.org.uk), claim that Motor Neurone disease(MND) affects any adult at any age, but it is most prevelant between the ages of 50-70. The illness affects 5,000 adults in the UK at any one time. On average six people a day die from MND in the UK. There are around 2200 sufferers in Ireland. According to the Irish MND Association (www.imnda.ie), there are approximately 350 people in Ireland living with it at any one time. In 2008, Irish filmmaker Simon Fitzmaurice, became one of them when he was diagnosed. This month’s second book is “I Found My Tribe by”  by his wife, Ruth Fitzmaurice and was published by Chatto & Windus (www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk)  in 2017.

The book charts Ruth’s struggles in coming to terms with her film maker husband’s life changing illness. At the time of his diagnosis Simon was given just three years to live, two years later in 2010 he went in respiratory failure and was accidentally put on a respirator during an emergency procedure. Despite vehement medical advice Simon chose to remain on the respirator, thus altering not just his life but  the dynamics of his family’s lives . Through the books one hundred and ninety-seven pages, we follow their various moves around the country and across continents as they try to find any sort of treatment to help Simon regain a normal existence, from homeopathic medicine in the rural English countryside and to Australia, to experience the utter joys of living a care-free existence, if someone with MND can have a one. As well the everyday reality of ongoing hourly invasions of the family’s personal space by the army of ever changing live-in nursing staff who are on call 24-7 to help manage Simon’s needs.

At the centre is Ruth the stoic and embattled wife and mother, who must try to steady the ship and raise her ever growing family amidst this chaos. But even super heroes need a rock or at least a release from the daily struggle of soaking up everyone else’s woes. Finally Ruth finds solace and support in her “Tribe” the “Tragic Wives Swimming Club”, a group of women who have all experienced life changing events or personal tragedy and are drawn together to provide moral support while banishing their troubles by diving into the cold waters of the Irish sea and swimming off the beaches of Greystones in Co. Wicklow, on the East coast of Ireland. Following the advice of one of Simon’s carers, Ruth and the girls plan to re-energise their spirits by swimming naked in the reflection of a full moon. Can they finally bring themselves to do it? Especially when they discover that on the same night not a couple of hundred yards away, there is an open air cinema of on the beach, showing…. Yes, you guessed it, “Jaws”!!!

This book is primarily set three and a half miles from where I currently sit writing this review. So, I know Greystones very well, myself and my wife walk the dog around a large circular loop of the town on average, maybe twice a month. About three to four times a year we walk the 12km there and back along the cliff walk that link the towns of Bray and Greystones. I’ve also played badminton and socialised in there regularly, so I may have met or even seen Ruth and her “Tribe” taking a brave dip in the bracing waters around the beaches and coves in the town. I did find a connection with one of her stories, where she replays an encounter with a lone bagpiper serenading the women’s entry into the water. I had to laugh to myself as I and my wife have seen the same bagpiper practising on a secluded cove just outside the town. This was another part of the book that I loved, the challenge of trying to workout whereabouts exactly in the town the ladies were swimming. When she talked about the bagpiper, her previous descriptions of the cove all fell into place and I knew the location.

Ruth Fitzmaurice

Ruth Fitzmaurice (ThisArdee,ie)

Ruth comes across as a real earth mother, if I did meet her or had we ever passed each other in the street, she’d probably been dressed in tie – dye and natural fibres. Anyone who names their kids Arden, Raife and Hunter, are aiming for the hipster vibe. Let me clarify I have nothing against earth motherly types, my best friend is one. So myself and Ruth would probably hit it off quite well.

This book, was the surprise hit of last year and once you start reading it you will see why. It is emotionally charged and will leave the reader drained as well as elated, with Ruth’s insightful portrayal of her life with Simon and the family as they endure the ups and downs. Rarely does a book lay bare as completely as it this does, the struggles a person goes through to deal with things as fully as “I Found My Tribe”, regular descriptions of Ruth sitting in her car in a lonely car park, balling her eyes out into a box of tissues or sitting in the garden talking to a tree, hit me right at the core, because we’ve all been in that space at one time or another.

On the upside she does have a fantastic support group not just in the shape of her

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Ruth, Simon and the family (Irish Examiner)

“Tribe”, but from Simon’s family. His mother’s attempt to lift her son’s spirits with regular gifts of fancy bright shirts, as well their unwavering search for a cure are a tonic. I was moved at times by its sheer emotionally charged storytelling, although regular readers of mine will know, that’s not very hard.

This is Irish author Ruth Fitzmaurice’s (@ruthoneilfitz) first book, although she has in the past worked as a radio researcher and producer, before meeting filmmaker and writer Simon. The spark that led to “I Found My Tribe” was an article Ruth wrote for the Irish Times in 2016 in which she wrote about her new-found passion for sea swimming. She lives in Greystones with family, as well as her “Tribe”. Tragically Simon lost his struggle against Motor Neurone Disease in October last year, four months after the book was published.

So, if you and your tribe are heading away for the summer holidays, then head down to your local book shop, snag a copy at the airport or download it. Whatever you forget to pack, let it not be this book.

JONASSON’S FIFTH IS CHILLING, BUT COMES ACROSS SLIGHTLY RUSHED

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whiteout_new_coverIf like me you’ve been residing in the northern hemisphere for the past six months, you are probably tiring of the long drawn out winter we are currently experiencing. Even now, as I write this in the latter part of April, I’m still wearing a padded jacket and gloves in the mornings when heading to work or going out in the evenings.  We are, at this stage in the year, sick to the back teeth of the Beast From The East, The Pest From The West and The Son Of The Beast, three storms that have dumped large amounts of snow  and freezing temperatures across the UK and Ireland in the past ten weeks. Here is Ireland at the height of the cold snap in February; the country shut down for nearly a week and there was a run on bread!!!!! Yes, I kid you not.  Unlike our Nordic neighbours and our north American and Canadian cousins, we are not good in snow. While our Icelandic neighbours, to the north, experience snow and sub -zero temperatures on a regular basis. This brings me to this month’s book review, its White Out by Ragnor Jonasson. Published Orenda Books (www.orendabooks.com)  in November 2017.

Two days before Christmas the body of a young girl is found at the base of the cliffs near an all but deserted village in the far north of the island. In fact, the only inhabitants are two middle aged siblings who are housekeepers for a local family whose large house stands atop a remote rocky alongside a large monolith of a lighthouse. They are also keepers for the lighthouse. With Christmas rapidly approaching and the snow relentlessly falling, Ari Thor Arason a young police detective is called by his ex-boss to accompany him to this desolate part of the island to help investigate the case. This throws Ari and his expectant fiancée Kristin’s plans for a family Christmas awry. As Kirstin wants to talk to a local man about her great grandfather, she sees it as a way of killing two birds with one stone.  When he arrives in Kalfshamarvik, Aria soon discovers that the girl’s younger sister and mother, also died at the same spot.  Then one of the witnesses who last saw the girl alive, is found dead. With ghost stories, family intrigue, the snow and early arrival of his first child hampering his investigation Ari has to find the killer before they strike again. Ari has his hands full on this investigation.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie (Star Tribune)

This isn’t the first Ragnor Jonasson book we’ve reviewed here at The Library Door. We liked his style of writing then and although I didn’t review the book myself at that time, I thoroughly loved this outing featuring his young detective. Ragnor paints a vivid and dramatic picture of this wild and beautiful land, with its green but also harsh landscapes. Set against this back drop the book moves fluidly and as I was reading in the midst of our bleak winter, I felt immersed in the story. This is not really a beach read as you’d never feel immersed in the fierce, driving wind and blinding snow, which add to the list of things hampering Ari’s investigation.

This is a book to be read, on the west coast of Ireland or up in the Scottish Highlands, when the wind is howling and the rain driving against the window and all you want is to be inside with a roaring fire.

This is Icelandic author Jonasson’s fifth book, his others include Snowblind, Blackout,

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Ragnor Jonasson

Rupture and The darkness. He started writing from an earlier age at 17 he translated fourteen Agatha Christie Novels into Icelandic. This novel has a nod to Agatha Christie, with its limited suspect list and remote house location. He currently lives in Reykjavik with his wife and family, where he works and a lawyer.

The book is quite short at almost 210 pages, but the one things I did feel was a slight mark against this read, was that the case seems to get wrapped up pretty quickly once his young son arrives, as if Jonason ran out of steam at that point. But on a whole it’s a good read written by a true master of Icelandic dark noir. So, if you haven’t read an Ari Thor Arason mystery yet, then get down to your local book shop or download a copy and start reading, before his ninth book The Darkness is published later this year.

THERE’S NO PADDY-WHACKERY IN MCGAHERN’S SIXTH BOOK, JUST A HEART WARMING TALE OF IRISH RURAL LIFE

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That They May Face CvrEvery year in March sees one of the biggest events of the global calendar, this is of course St. Patrick’s day, who is the patron saint of Ireland and all things Irish. So, while more and more countries celebrate the 17th of March by turning rivers, large iconic buildings and instantly recognisable monuments green; it also a time to reflect on what Ireland has given the international community. One of its biggest exports apart from Guinness and Arran jumpers is literature and recently the book club had the chance to read another well-known Irish writer. This month’s book is, That They May face The Rising Sun, by John McGahern, published by Faber & Faber in 2002.

The title may make you think, as it did with me, that it is set in some theatre of war, possibly in Asia, but it all takes place in peace time Ireland. The story follows the lives of Joe and Kate Ruttledge, for the first year after they have returned home from London to Kate’s home town in the border region of Ireland. The town is full of charming and quirky characters, each with their own problems and various idiosyncrasies. The Ruttledge’s spend most of their time in the company of their friends and neighbours from across the lake, Mary and Jamesie.

This book may not have much going on in the story-line, it charts the comings and going on in this small rural town-land, like a diary of sorts without chronological references. Just subtle indications to the gradual changing of the  seasons, but McGahern’s charming little tale doesn’t require a big block busting pacey driven plot to keep you engrossed. The characters who are all excellently drawn and diverse, latch on to you and keep the reader turning the pages. There’s the town bachelor, the local business man, who is nicknamed “The Shah”, who helps life move by oiling the cogs of the local economy, but can can’t let go of the reins of the business to his only employee and a local cripple who is left mentally and physically scarred by his tragic upbringing. At the centre of it are the Ruttledge’s, a happy go lucky couple who have no real cares in the world and the only real threat to their new existence is the offer of a job back in London, by Kate’s old boss.

John McGahern

John McGahern

It appears Joe and Kate met while working for the same company in London, but Joe seems to have left their former employer under a cloud which isn’t explained but is hinted at, now he farms and does consultancy work.

There is a lot of humour in the book and drinking too! Every single page seems to have the characters calling into see each other and having large glasses of Irish whiskey.  The characters have little or no malice in them, even where is a malicious intent, it is portrayed in a humorous almost darkly comical light. Take the towns eligible bachelor, who finally takes a woman to the alter but is really only marrying her for her dowry, cooking and cleaning skills. The reception is held in the grounds of a big local house and he, being quite unsure of social niceties literally takes her in the biblical sense on a hill in full view of the guests… This may shock some, but through the way Maghern tells the story, you are left with a shocked smirk on face, as if to say, did he actually do that?

This is not twee Irish, there’s nothing Darby O’Gill about it or any stereotypical

Irish RM Cast

Brian Murray & Peter Bowles

characters in the book, it had for me reminders of the Irish RM, a British TV series that ran on Channel 4 starring British actor Peter Bowles (To the Manor Born) and Irish actor Brian Murray (Brookside) back in the eighties. What you get from this book after reading it is a warm fluffy feeling as if you have just spent a week in the in a stone whitewashed cottage in the west of Ireland.

 

This Irish writer John McGahern’s sixth of seven novels, in all he wrote fifteen books the others were collections of short stories and one play The Power of Darkness. His other novels include The Barracks (1963), The Dark (1965), The Leave Taking (1974), The Pornographer (1979) and Amongst Women (1990). Born in 1934 he trained as a teacher before becoming a full-time writer. He won numerous awards both in Ireland and Internationally for his work and his book, Amongst Women was made into a four-part TV series for BBC. He died in 2006.

If there’s a downside to That They May See The Rising Sun, it’s a little confused as to what era its set. All the descriptions point to possibly late sixties early seventies. But there are references to one of characters watching the ITV show Blind Date which was hosted by Cilla Black between 1985 and 2003 and in another paragraph, they talk about the moon landings as if only happened the day before, which took place in 1969.

So, if you are looking for a charming, homely Irish book to read by an outstanding contributor to Irish literature, that is full of wit and will leave you feeling happy and contented at the end, while also itching to visit the emerald isle and kiss the Blarney Stone, this is the one for you. So, head in to your local book shop or download a copy. Open your drinks cabinet and find a nice Irish whiskey and settle down for a great read, especially with another cold snap planned for Easter period.

THE GAME ENDS FOR BALDACCI’S LATEST AFTER THE FIRST CHAPTER

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End Game Cvr UKMetro’s , underground tube and train networks are an excellent way of servicing vast cities, such as New York, London ,Paris and Moscow . To the uninitiated they can be complicated and confusing.  Even myself, whilst quite used to the London tube, has to stop every now and then, disrupting the torrent of bodies flowing through this vast underground network, to get my bearings. Then on other occasions, I’ll mutter under my breathe at disorientated tourists as they do likewise. This brings me on to this month’s second book, End Game by David Baldacci, published by MacMillan www.macmillan.com in October 2017.

What’s confusing about  this book is that the blurb on the book and the cover images on the front bear no resemblance to the story inside. Ok, for one chapter they do, the first one. After that it’s a totally different story.

According to the blurb on the back, Will Robie an assassin for US Government has 24 hours to save London from a  threat by terrorists to attack the underground, with the United States their next target. While the front cover image shows male and female silhouettes walking along a London underground platform.

What actually happens, is that Robie kills all the terrorists single-handedly in a house in central London and saves the lives of 17 million Londoners all within the first fifteen pages!!! For the other three hundred and ninety one, he and his fellow agent Jessica Reel (who never goes near London), mooch about the wilds of Colorado looking for their boss “BlueMan”, who has gone missing while on vacation in his home town. Managing to cross swords with a Neo-Nazi group and in Robie’s case get romantically involved with the local sheriff in the process, all while trying to sort out their own complicated romantic history.

This isn’t the first David Baldacci novel I’ve read, the other was Split Second from his King and Maxwell series. Again like this book it was pacey and full of action but at least the blurb on the back and the front cover had some connection with the whole story inside.

David Baldacci

David Baldacci

The story in the remaining three hundred plus pages of End Game is interesting if not slightly weakened by the constant distraction of the front cover, which keeps making the reader wonder where the connection to the threat to London and the sixteen terrorists Robie had dispatched in the first part of the book, is going to emerge. It doesn’t, it’s as if Baldacci had an idea for a book, but realised it was just a short story and decided to weld another half decent story onto the end of it. If that’s the case, his editor should be demoted to editing road signs or billboards.

American Author Baldacci (www.davidbaldacci.com) has written nearly forty books which have sold more 130 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 45 languages. A good few have been adapted for film and television. He started writing from a young age, when his mother gave him a lined copy book to keep him quiet. His first book, “Absolute Power,” was published in 1996.  He lives in Virginia, where he and his wife also run their Wish You Well Foundation,a non-profit organization, which supportsEnd Game Cvr US literacy efforts across the country.

While researching this review, I saw on David’s website that the American version of the book has a different cover, which is common. At least it shows a male and female silhouette running through a Coloarado-esque landscape. With so many dedicated fans, I don’t see why David or the editors and marketing teams at Macmillan deemed it ok to take the UK / Irish readers for fools. So, if you are looking for a half decent read, which can be slightly distracting if you are reading a non-American copy, then go and get a copy. Otherwise, any of Baldacci’s other books are a better bet.