When I started reading this book I quickly forgot that it is written by the Graham Norton, he of The Graham Norton Show. Which definitely is a good thing, for as much as I love the show the book is very different. And as much as I love his happy chuckling it would be completely out of place here.
Elizabeth Keane, a single mother, left by her husband when he discovered he is gay, comes back from New York to a small town in Ireland. The purpose of her visit is not a happy one, she has to clean out her deceased mother’s, Patricia’s, house. While doing that she discovers a bunch of letters that may shed some light on her mother’s background. The relationship between the two of them was never easy. It was not made easier by the fact that Patricia dared to be a single mother in a small community in Ireland.
Elizabeth, on one hand, admires Patricia, on the other she still cannot get over their thorny relationship. The letters spur her on to investigate. Step by step she finds out more about her origins. The current timeline and Patricia’s youth are intertwined, so we discover the story with Elizabeth if not even slightly faster and in more detail. Patricia’s story quickly becomes quite gothic and dark. While Elizabeth’s timeline is kind of flat, in a modern and familiar way, the way we live now that does not allow for any dark gothic drama. Everything can be solved on the phone or on the Internet.
What was sad was the fact that Elizabeth would never be able to discuss what she found out with her mother. There’s no more mending the relationship. What’s done is done and even if now she understands more it will not help her change the past.
It was a nice read. I would not say it shook my world, but I enjoyed it. Probably Patricia’s part more than Elizabeth’s, but that’s just my take. A pleasant surprise on how very different voice Norton uses in his writing from the one we’re accustomed to from his show.