In his debut novel, Mc Glynn tells an elegiac, haunting story exploring the ramifications of past actions on the present.
This vividly told novel takes place in the Irish countryside, and its story has two major sections: In the first, set in 2001, Seanie recalls his search for his father as he struggled with his own identity; in the second, set in the 1930s and ’40s, the story focuses on his mother, Annie, and how she became pregnant with Seanie. Seanie’s first-person sections will likely keep readers turning pages; as the plot unfolds, Mc Glynn works to keep readers engaged with the young man’s difficulties and the question of who Seanie’s father is. However, the novel switches points of view as it progresses, moving from Seanie to Annie to other characters (whose stories are told in third person). These switches awkwardly disrupt the plot, and some readers may occasionally be disconcerted for a moment as they shift perspective. However, these narrative devices may appeal to readers who are comfortable with sophisticated forms. The author also often provides vivid descriptions; at one of the novel’s climactic points, Mc Glynn refrains from explicitly describing what is happening, yet presents a disturbing scene that almost reads like poetry: “Warmth brushed against Annie’s cheeks and caressed her forehead. Her eyelids fluttered briefly and were still again.” Throughout the novel, the author effectively depicts the thoughts and experiences of his three-dimensional characters as he brings them to life for readers.
A challenging, startling tale of a mother and son.