(Book received from, and review written for, TripFiction.com)
Drama and secrets in Ireland and Liverpool My rating: 5 out of 5
Set mainly near Doohoma Head, County Mayo, but also with visits to Liverpool, this wonderful story sweeps the reader through Ruby Flynn's early life in the 1950s.
Ruby Flynn is a feisty (for her time) girl who, following the loss of her family, is brought up in a convent, and then sent off to a service role at the local castle. This engaging story follows her through her making of friends (and a few enemies) at the convent, and how she makes a pact with those friends that one day they will be free to live as they want to in their beautiful Ireland. In the meantime she is sent to work at the castle, where she makes some shocking revelations, wonders at the story behind the ancient curse and finds new friends and foes.
Set mostly in rural Ireland, where the rainy days are as integral part of this story as the seemingly fewer beautiful sunny days, most of the transport is by horse and cart, with the occasional motor vehicle and bicycle - and this speed of transport is also repeated in the story. There are many wonderful chapters at the pace and loveliness of the horse and cart. Sometimes there is the drama of the motor car speed, and then there is the exhilaration of a bicycle flying through the beautiful Irish scenery.
Each chapter ends neatly (no cliff hangers here), so this book is perfect for reading in short chunks. However within the chapters treachery and secrets abound with loyalty, love and loss also playing their parts. The poverty of rural Ireland at this time is well described, together with the friendliness of the people and their willingness to share and help each other - whilst telling a story or two.
In contrast to the life and surroundings of the castle are the chapters based in Liverpool, where the Lord of the castle is starting up his shipping business. The hustle, bustle and excitement of Liverpool in the 1950s is great reading, and the differences and similarities of his two worlds (life at the castle and in Liverpool) make great reading, and give plenty to think about if you are that sort of reader. Lots of information about both locations to interest any reader.
For me this was a book written in the style of the Bronte sisters, but with a modern approach. I was swept away into the story from the start, and absolutely loved every moment of it.
Apart from one mild sex scene near the end, there is no sex, violence or bad language. Just wonderful page-turning story.
Buy it, read it and keep it on your bookshelves for ever!