Irish comedian Norton casts a gimlet eye on relationships in this fourth novel set in the land of his birth.
Norton’s absorbing novels blend domestic strife and intriguing tragedies, and in his latest, he excavates the lengths to which people allow themselves to be manipulated in order to get along. English teacher Carol Crottie loses her husband to a French teacher, and years pass before she falls in love again. No one understands what she sees in Declan Barry, an older man whose wife went missing years before. When the never-divorced Declan is later diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, his children, Killian and Sally, move him into a care home and then callously kick unemployed, 48-year-old Carol out of the lovely house she and Declan shared and put it on the market. This emotionally propulsive novel then veers into mystery territory as Carol, prodded by her pushy mother, discovers the truth about Declan’s missing wife and why his children treat her so cruelly. She also discovers the lengths to which her mother will go to hide a secret. With sensitivity and a knack for understanding people’s feelings and motivations, Norton also examines the discord in Killian’s marriage as he and husband Colin await the birth of their daughter through surrogacy, as well as Sally’s inability to form relationships outside the realm of social media and why her once-close relationship with Carol turned ugly. Norton’s sometimes-charming, sometimes-sinister novel, set in the fictional Irish village of Ballytoor, gently leads Carol toward a painful yet revelatory examination of her relationships with Declan, his children, and her own son, Craig. Perfect for fans of Maeve Binchy’s Ireland-set works of fiction and Alexander McCall Smith’s quirky, character-driven comic novels.
A heartfelt look at how family members make and break each other.