Worth 'taking a chance' on a writer with such refreshing change of pace
Based around the music of Abba, this sophomore offering from Gay Community News editor Brian Finnegan appears to be a light read at first glance, but in reality touches on a variety of serious topics – from cancer to transgenderism, abortion to anxiety and domestic abuse.
Although packaged as chick lit and written for a beach-side read, it has a depth that the cover and title belie. Four characters' stories intertwine, linking back to a teenage summer spent together. Now having lost touch and gone their separate ways, their memory comes back to the main character Maggie, with the news that Abba are reuniting for one last concert. The foursome had always sworn they would see their favourite band together one last time, and as Maggie is dealing with the awful news that she has breast cancer, as well as the breakdown of her marriage, the idea gives her something to look forward to.
But everyone is not so easy to track down. Her first love, Daniel, has gone into hiding after a brief period as a pop star, reclusive, panicky and afraid of being discovered once again. He's dealing with his own son's problems and his burgeoning sexuality.
Mysterious Charlie's life has changed beyond all recognition and appears to be nowhere to be found, but the arrival of the beautiful Cassandra in the gang's old Sligo hometown sends shockwaves through the community. And lastly, Dee has her own secrets, wrapped up in her new marriage and shutting the rest of the world out.
This novel is sensitively written and well plotted, and despite his gender, Finnegan writes women incredibly well. A refreshing change of pace for Irish books aimed at women, this one might even open a few eyes. If you loathe Abba though, you might find the fan element a bit irritating. I will admit to being an Agnetha, Frida, Benny and Bjorn fan though, so I enjoyed it.
Overall, a solid offering that is less fluffy than one might expect, but with enough romance and intrigue to keep you reading whether you're on the beach or the bus.