2009 Booker Prize

Love and Summer – William Trevor

 Long Listed for the Booker Prize 2009

Love and Summer begins with a funeral. A mysterious stranger arrives and starts to photograph the mourners. A few of the guests spot him and are wary, especially because the deceased is said to own half the town. The plot builds slowly, through the observations of several members of the village.

I’m afraid that this was another one of those gentle books which failed to grab my attention. The character observations were amusing in places, but lacked the emotion I need to enjoy this sort of book. It was all too ordinary for me.

Unhurried in the wood, not wanting to hurry, Ellie reached out for these crowding memories. Cloonhill was gone now, closed down three years ago, the nuns gone back to the convent in Templeross. But you didn’t lose touch with a place when it wasn’t there any more; you didn’t lose touch with yourself as you were when you were part of it, with your childhood, with your simplicity then.

This book came across more as a portrait of an Irish village, than the story of any one person. There were a large number of characters, which further distanced me from each one.

The ending was quite satisfying, but the journey there was too slow and meandering.

There are a lot of similarities between this book and Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, also long listed for the Booker Prize this year. I am sure that if you enjoy reading one, then you will love the other. Both books are observations of Irish life and leave more unsaid than is described on the page.

I know that a lot of people will love this book, but it just wasn’t for me.



Do you enjoy William Trevor’s writing?

Have you read any of his other books?

2009 Booker Prize

Brooklyn – Colm Tóibín

 Long listed for the Booker prize 2009

Brooklyn is a gentle story about a young woman emigrating from a small town in Ireland to Brooklyn in the 1950s.

The writing is very simple and the plot basic, but this meant it could be read very quickly. The book captures the nostalgia of someone who leaves their home and the culture-shock they encounter when moving to a new country.

I found the book too gentle for my tastes, but I can see that it would appeal to a lot of people. The story is one I’ve heard many times before and although the writing is carefully controlled it didn’t offer anything that I hadn’t seen before.

The characterisation was also a bit flat for me. The central character, Eilis, didn’t display any strong emotions. The story was revealed through her observations and she just seemed to be pulled along by the plot rather than taking an active part in it. I prefer my characters to display a bit more strength or emotion than she did.

Overall I was a bit under-whelmed by this book and would only recommend it to those who enjoy books with a gentle plot.


I have heard great things about Colm Tóibín, but this is the first of his books which I have read.

Have you read any of his other books?

Are they written in a similar way to this?

Booker Prize

Reading in the Dark – Seamus Deane

Short Listed for the Booker Prize 1996

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?

Booker Prize

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha – Roddy Doyle

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha won the Booker Prize in 1993. It is the first Roddy Doyle book I have read, so I didn’t really know what to expect. 

It follows Paddy Clarke, as he grows up in 1960’s Dublin, witnessing the break down of his parent’s marriage

He has a real talent for being able to describe the thoughts and feelings of a ten year old boy:

I prefer magnifying glasses to matches. We spent afternoons burning little piles of cut grass. I loved watching the grass change colour. I loved it when the flame began to race through the grass. You had more control with a magnifying glass. It was easier but it took more skill.

I found some scenes touching, and I managed to read the whole book fairly quickly, but the plot meandered about a bit too much for me, so I didn’t get drawn into it fully. His childhood had very little in common with mine, so this may be another reason I was not as enthralled with this book as others seem to be. I was only born in 1978, so have no nostalgia for the 60s, and I was never a little boy, who had fights and played jokes on my teachers!

It was OK, but I think I’d only recommend it to older people, who would be able to fully appreciate the nostalgia this book has to offer.