Saturday 24 March 2018

Home and away -- a story with the Aussie touch

Monica McInerney is an internationally bestselling author who was born in Australia but now spends lots of time in Ireland where her roots are. Her latest novel reflects this, like her big bestseller Those Faraday Girls. She grew up with seven siblings and brings that insight to her work which deals to a large extent with the dynamics of surviving family life.

There are many versions of the modern family and Ella O'Hanlon inhabits an increasingly common hybrid.

Her parents divorced when she was young, her mother remarried and Ella found herself with a ready-made step family including eventually her spoiled half-sister Jess.

Many years later we find Ella adrift from her family after the tragic death of her baby son Felix.

Locked in grief, she escapes to the only constant presence in her troubled life, her uncle Lucas Fox. A kind, genial academic, he has always been a loving influence in her life and sensing her fragile state, offers her a job as housekeeper in his bohemian London home.

As Ella reflects on the events that led to the tragic death of her son, she is forced to confront her feelings towards the two people that she blames for her terrible loss. First there is Aidan, her romantic Irish husband, the love of her life who insisted on the fateful day that she take time for herself and leave him to take care of Felix.

She cannot forgive him for the decisions that he subsequently made.

And then there is Jess whom she also can't forgive for the part she played in what followed.

Will Ella be able to forgive her loved ones who are tortured by guilt and can she understand that her family are grieving too?

This is a beautifully told story with real emotional depth. Another triumph for Monica McInerney and another great story for her readers.

Mairead Byrne

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