Reading in the Dark is set during the troubled times of Ireland, between 1945 and 1961. The story is told through the eyes of a young boy growing up within the violence, under strict Catholic parents. The unnamed boy has to deal with family secrets, and his mother becoming unable to cope with it all. Religious beliefs and superstitions play a big part in his childhood, and his innocence means that he is often left bewildered.
It is similar to Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha in many respects, but much I found it much easier to read. This is because it lacks the stream of consciousness prose found in Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha and the plot is easier to follow.
The main fault I found with the book is that it is very depressing. There is the odd glimmer of happiness occasionally, but it is quickly stamped out where-ever it tries to occur. This led to a book which I didn’t find enjoyable to read. The plot seemed to move from one tragedy to the next and there never seemed to be any hope.
I didn’t really connect with the main character because he just seemed too caught up in his own emotions and a bit weak – I prefer my characters to have a bit of feistiness!
If you enjoyed Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha then I think you’ll love this, but it just wasn’t for me.
I think Angela’s Ashes is my favourite book set in Ireland. What is yours?