When a bereaved father visits his unhappy son, living in a disintegrating development in Spain, the result is a downbeat, comic, occasionally tender period of small revelations and adjustments for both Mr. Lynches.
Noted British writer O’Flynn (What Was Lost, 2008, etc.) mixes banality and insight in her third novel, a soft-spoken story of the distance between supposedly close individuals. Dermot Lynch, an Irish immigrant to Birmingham, England, has lived a solid, quiet, working-class life as a bus driver and husband to Kathleen. Their only child, Eamonn, was clever enough to go to university, but his education has only served to cut him off from his roots, leaving him adrift and alienated. Eamonn and his girlfriend, Laura, moved to Spain during the height of the property boom, but now, their estate is half empty and crumbling, its value plummeting. And Eamonn’s sense of failure has driven Laura away. Dermot’s arrival doesn’t extricate Eamonn from his depression, especially after Eamonn loses his job, but the walks and talks shared by father and son offer moments of connection as well as exasperation. O’Flynn’s brush strokes can be broad—one-dimensional supporting characters; obvious symbolism, such as when Dermot saves Eamonn from drowning. Nevertheless, her gentle portrait of ordinary folk crossing borders, struggling for connection, has moments of understated empathy and charm.
A low-key vignette of family life, appealing but not memorable.