Echoes of Rocky in a sweet-natured tale of golf and small-town Ireland.
Young Larry Lynch, of tiny, insular Trabane, suddenly finds himself broke, debt-ridden and head of his family when Da takes off for greener pastures. True enough, there's this harvest of hay the family farm has yielded, a cash crop except that it’s likely to molder in the barn because Larry and Ma don't have what it costs to transport it to market. Hurling, Ireland's ancient and most beloved sport, is Larry's buoy in a sea of troubles—until that, too, is wrenched from him during the annual grudge match between Trabane and neighboring Isberg. He suffers a “small bit of a bruise” that nevertheless puts an end to his season. Exit hurling, enter golf, and a dramatic improvement in Larry's fortunes. Almost by accident he discovers a natural bent for the grand old game. A gifted athlete, he’s able to convert the arm action central to hurling into a golf swing so sweet and powerful that in a remarkably short period he becomes Trabane's leading amateur. As a result, he's selected to represent the Trabane Golf Club in the Atlantic Trophy, a prestigious tournament played over the storied course at Ballykissane. Unknown, undervalued, a nobody from nowhere, Larry is expected to lose in a hurry, but this is not that kind of story. Supported by a reprobate of a caddy who happens to be a golfing genius, plus a bit of “old ways” magic, he takes on the heavily favored American and the titled Englishman, defeats both in stirring matches, earning in the process a great job, a gorgeous girl, and a golf-bag full of life’s other glittering prizes.
Binchy’s third (after Fireballs, 1994, etc.) is a dead-solid hit with cousin Maeve (“I . . . love this book!”), which is not surprising since it’s Binchyesque to the core.