Thursday, August 18, 2016

Two Irish Tales

How awesome we are having more participation right now!  I wanted to jump in here with two reviews of books written by Irish authors, one set entirely in Ireland, and the other partly in Ireland, and partly in America.

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan is contemporary fiction set during the financial stresses of 2008.  The language is rough at times and also it took me a while to get a firm handle on the time frame it was set in.  But what was really fascinating about the book is that each chapter was written in the first person of one of the characters.  I have never seen a book take that voice, if you will.  It was interesting because you learned more about previous characters that had already spoken, by hearing what someone else was saying later, and the story came together in that way.  The spinning heart is small iron bauble on Bobby's father's rusted iron gate.  Bobby and his Dad were never fact from Bobby's perspective, his Dad was a loser and doesn't deserve his respect.  He goes to see his Dad every day however, somehow hoping to find that the old man has finally passed on.  Things get complicated when Bobby's Dad is found murdered by someone who is sure he saw Bobby leaving his Dad's place right before.  It was interesting to see how each character's life entwined with other's lives and to observe the way the financial difficulties affected each one.  I would certainly recommend this book.  It was different and kept the reader's interest.

The second book, however, is now one of my all-time favorites!  If you are looking for happy endings, On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry won't be for you.  But, it was such a beautiful, sad tale of one woman's life.  It begins in Ireland where Lilly's Dad is a high ranking police official in Dublin (a Royal position) and she becomes engaged to a member of the Black and Tans (a Irish Independence group).  Because of something that occurs the young man and she are forced to leave Ireland, and receive help from her father in doing so.  In the course of Lilly's long life, she can never quite escape what happened back in Ireland.  Lilly begins by losing her home, but has many losses in the years that follow.  The book is a series of "memoirs" she is writing down that tells about everything that she went through.  It is beautifully written, and Lilly becomes a friend as you read it, someone you care about and wish better things had happened to.  It's like finding old letters about someone that breaks your heart as you read them.  Or as I said in my Goodreads review, it's like unravelling a finely woven Irish shawl, and as each strand comes apart, more is revealed until all comes into full view.  I loved it! 


  1. Being an Irish gal, these books really appeal to me! Great reviews - I am putting them on my book list! - Karen

  2. Both of those books sound so enchanting to read and for their own reasons. I do love books about the Irish so will try to read at least one of these in the weeks to come.

  3. Thanks to both of you! Hope you enjoy them!

  4. You and your mom have been busy with great reads. That's for sure.


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